Recent alum is Emory's first winner of prestigious scholarship to study for two years in France

By April Hunt | Emory Report | Sept. 18, 2019

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Jacob Kasel will pursue a master’s degree in France as the first Emory winner of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship, awarded to a single student each year from applicants from 30 top U.S. institutions.

Jacob Kasel 18C will study for two years in France as the first Emory University winner of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship.

The scholarship selects a single student each year from applicants from 30 top U.S. institutions. Valued at $80,000, it fully funds the two-year master’s degree program at the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies or “Sciences Po.”

Kasel graduated with highest honors with a double major in Spanish and Portuguese and comparative literature from Emory College of Arts and Sciences in December 2018.

Following graduation, he worked in Brazil as an educational consultant helping students who want to pursue college careers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

The scholarship, he says, is an opportunity to further his passion for studying political and social issues, particularly those related to urbanization and the legacy of colonialism, and how they affect the Portuguese-speaking world. 

The scholarship also presents an opportunity for Kasel, who has family in the Czech Republic, to examine the impact of the Soviet Union’s legacy on the relationships between eastern and western Europe.

“The focus of this program, on the theory of international development and its practice in the private and public sectors, is completely in line with my passion for the cultural and economic analysis of politics,” he says.

Kasel also plans to enroll in French language courses during his time in Paris. He notably went from beginner to near-fluency in Portuguese in a single school year at Emory. He also served as an IDEAS Fellow promoting liberal arts experiences and learning to students and conducted independent research.

During his undergraduate career, Kasel researched governance and funding sources of countries in Central America and Africa as an intern with The Carter Center. He twice worked with Brazilian researchers to propose solutions to urban challenges in researching the Zika virus. 

Megan Friddle, Emory College director of national scholarships and fellowships, says Kasel’s experience in research, law and economics, as well as his authentic commitment to cultural immersion, made him an ideal candidate for the scholarship, which is based in part on academic excellence, leadership, multiculturalism and high achievement.

“He is poised to become a thought leader at the international level, and the master in international development at Sciences Po will be an important step in his progress along that path,” she says.

The Sciences Po is a highly selective research university with a unique academic model that combines human and social sciences, multidisciplinary study and a professional grounding to educate students to tackle the challenges of contemporary society.