December 14, 2009

KSAS alum to study at Oxford as 2010 Marshall Scholar


Nabiha Syed

Nabiha Syed, who earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and anthropology from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences in 2007, has been named a 2010 Marshall Scholar, an honor awarded to just 40 American students each year. Funded by the British government, the scholarship offers the opportunity to study at any British university for two to three years, covering university fees and living expenses as well as travel fare to and from the United States.

As a Marshall Scholar, Syed, 24, will continue in her advocacy for women’s rights and freedom of the press in repressive regimes such as her native Pakistan by pursuing a master’s degree in legal research through the Program in Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford University, where she spent a semester abroad as an undergraduate.

She describes her plans to write and conduct research among some of the world’s foremost media scholars as “breathtakingly exciting.”

“I’ll be looking at how communities access and exercise freedom of information laws across different contexts—a perfect synthesis of my Hopkins-fueled love of international relations and anthropology and my recent interests in the law,” she said. “I hope to advocate for international press freedom and accountability in general, probably initially through litigation but ultimately through policy work.”

As an undergraduate, Syed was an active and energetic student leader, well-known for her social justice work as the co-founder of the student group Vision XChange, which raises money and awareness for various causes through fun programs such as Hopkins Idol and Top Model competitions.

Since earning her degree from Johns Hopkins, Syed has been at Yale Law School, where she expects to earn her degree in spring 2010. While at Yale, she wrote Replicating Dreams: Examining the Grameen Bank and Kashf Foundation (Oxford University Press, May 2009); worked in an anti-corruption unit at the World Bank; became active in the Balancing Civil Liberties and National Security After 9/11 Clinic, examining and pursuing accountability for abuses rendered in the pursuit of national security; and started the Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum, with the support of the Information Society Project at Yale Law and the Knight Foundation, that works through litigation to ensure that the press continues to effectively contribute to a well-informed public sphere.

Although she’s currently at Yale, Syed worked with John Bader, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the Krieger School and national scholarships adviser, and his staff to apply and prepare for the Marshall Scholarship.

“Nabiha is an amazing woman and the kind of alumna we celebrate,” Bader said. “I have known her for many years, and I am especially proud that she won the Marshall. She has been a leader for social justice, women’s rights and freedom of the press in Pakistan, and she has built on her Hopkins education to enjoy great success at Yale Law School.”

It’s not unusual for Bader to assist alumni—even those studying at other institutions in other cities—in pursuit of scholarships.

“[Nabiha] could have applied through Yale, but she wanted to play for the Blue Jays,” Bader said. “She also shows that alumni can successfully apply for national grants, and my office is happy to support those who do. That she was not in Baltimore was no barrier; we talked by phone, exchanged e-mails, and I critiqued her essays she sent electronically. There are some scholarships, like the Fulbright, Luce and Mitchell, that are especially well-suited to those who have some professional or other experiences, so I hope we get more applicants like Nabiha in the future.”

Johns Hopkins has a strong track record in the Marshall Scholarship program, with students and alumni winning seven scholarships in the last eight years, including two last year.

Current students and alumni interested in working with John Bader can reach him at or 410-516-8212.