Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program

The Helen Firstbrook Franklin Scholarship Program





A native of New Jersey, Helen Firstbrook Franklin (‘37) received her BA in Journalism at a time when the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism was one of only three in the nation. After a stint in public relations, Franklin joined the staff of the Reader’s Digest as a research librarian, beginning a thirty-eight-year career with the magazine. She traveled extensively on assignment in Latin America, learning Spanish and establishing contacts. Until her retirement in 1978, she worked with offices in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and several other Latin American countries, contributing articles and photos to the English, Spanish, and Portuguese editions of the Digest. Franklin’s bequest establishes an endowed professorship and two distinguished graduate fellowships in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, plus two distinguished graduate fellowships with the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS). The Franklin funds are matched by the Graduate School’s Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowship Program, which includes a waiver of the out-of-state portion of the tuition. The grant award includes in-state tuition, stipend, fringe benefits, and flexible funds.




The Helen Firstbrook Franklin Scholarship Program (HFFS) enables top entering graduate students with Latin American, Caribbean, or Iberian commitments to focus on their studies during their first academic year at the University of Wisconsin.


“Latin American, Caribbean, or Iberian commitments” are understood to mean (1) a primary commitment to area studies as such, or (2) a substantial research component or comparativist component within a curriculum that has professional goals outside area studies.


1. Applications are by departmental nomination and should include:


a. a departmental letter of nomination signed by the Chair;

b. two outside letters of recommendation (can be from the student's graduate school application);

c. student's updated c.v. (can be from the student's graduate school application);

d. and a statement of purpose (can be from the student's graduate school application).


2. Completed applications are due the second Friday of February each year. Please complete the application here.


3. Applications will be considered by the LACIS Fellowships and Scholarships Committee. A decision should be announced by mid-March.


4. Applicants selected to receive the Helen Firstbrook Franklin Scholarship have until April 15th to notify LACIS of their intent to accept or decline the award.