Ogden Honors Senior Makes History as LSU's First Schwarzman Scholar

December 07, 2023

Harper Doerr

Ogden Honors College senior Harper Doerr has been named a Schwarzman Scholar, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships. He has made history at LSU by becoming the first recipient of this distinguished award. The Baton Rouge native is a senior triple majoring in political science, philosophy, and sociology with a concentration in criminology. 

Doerr and the other 149 Schwarzman Scholars, representing 43 countries and 114 universities from around the world, will receive the opportunity to attend a one-year, fully-funded master’s degree program in global affairs at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

“What a terrific opportunity for Harper, and a great honor for our college,” said LSU Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “I can’t wait to hear what he learns in the program.

Reflecting on his decision to apply for the Schwarzman Scholarship, Doerr acknowledged the competitive nature of the program and the initial skepticism about his chances but embraced the opportunity to take a chance on something that could significantly benefit his future goals. 

The unique aspect that drew Doerr to the Schwarzman program was its specific goal of decreasing global tensions between the United States and China. While recognizing the monumental challenge, he has a desire to make a difference on a smaller scale by contributing to his own community and fostering understanding. He was also intrigued by the fact that the program closely aligned with his personal philosophy of putting others first, highlighting the impact of caring for and trying to create better outcomes for people, and learning from other cultures to do that.

Having never left the United States except for a brief trip to Canada in eighth grade, Doerr is excited and aware of the challenges awaiting him in Beijing. “There's going to be a language barrier, there's going to be a culture barrier. But one of my motivating factors is that I know I become greater when I surround myself with things that I'm not used to,” he said. “We get close-minded when we view life through the lens of our own experiences. The more we learn, the more we can turn arguments into constructive discussions.” 

Doerr credits the Ogden Honors College for providing a challenging and diverse academic environment, where interaction with classmates and professors has significantly contributed to his personal and intellectual growth. Currently working on an honors thesis with sociology professor Danielle Thomas, Doerr is taking an analytical approach to studying African-American black athletes in sports from 2000 to 2019, particularly focusing on media portrayals and shifting narratives.

Doerr's leadership extends far beyond the confines of the classroom, with notable contributions within his fraternity, Sigma Nu, serving as a cornerstone in his leadership journey. Within this fraternity, he developed a strong belief that strategic goal-setting, assembling the right team, and meticulous planning significantly enhance the prospects of success. Taking on the role of president during his junior year, Doerr spearheaded the creation of the impactful Rock for Reclaimed event. In its inaugural year, this initiative successfully raised over $44,000 for the Reclaimed Project—a philanthropic organization based in Mississippi, with a special focus on Africa. The project's endeavors include the construction of centers for children and markets, fostering economic empowerment within communities.

In addition to his fraternity involvement, Doerr is the founder of DebateLSU, an organization committed to amplifying students' voices in political discourse, where he has played a pivotal role in fostering civic engagement on campus. His impressive list of accolades speaks volumes about his commitment and achievements, including recognition as a Louisiana Governor's Fellow, a distinguished member of the Tiger Twelve Class of 2023, Greek Leader of the Year, and the esteemed recipient of the Ross Willis Memorial Award for Sociology. These honors underscore Doerr's multifaceted contributions, from philanthropy and community engagement to his dedication to political discourse and academic excellence.

As Doerr prepares for an enriching experience in Beijing, his story serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring leaders and a reminder of the transformative power of education, service, and community engagement.