Seven Harvard students were named Schwarzman scholars this year, granting them a one-year, fully-paid master's degree opportunity at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The students selected for the prestigious scholarship include current College students Christian D. Abney ’23, Monica Chang ’23, Joyce Zhou ’23, Jonathan Zhuyuan Zhang ’23, College alum Kunho Kim ’17, Zayan Faiyad ’18, and Harvard Medical School student Claire Jiaqi Jiang.
The Schwarzman Scholarship aims to promote studies in global affairs and leadership development. This year, the program selected 143 students from various universities around the world.
Stephen A. Schwarzman, billionaire and co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone Group, created the program in 2016 after being inspired by the Rhodes scholarship.
Monica Chang ’23 said she was conducting interviews for her senior thesis when she received the call about her award.
“I saw that it was from someone from the Schwarzman Scholars. Either they're calling me to reject me over a phone call, which is very cruel,” she said. “Or maybe this is an acceptance, so I immediately called back and heard the news.”
“I was honestly very surprised and shocked, but also very grateful,” Chang added.
Jonathan Zhuyuan Zhang ’23 said he plans to “enrich and deepen” his bonds with friends and family after graduation and before going off to Beijing.
“Harvard expects a lot out of people, and not often enough do we give ourselves the time to take a step back to rest and recuperate and to relax,” he said. “This will be a time to truly reflect upon my time in Harvard the past four years, the amazing opportunities I've had, and I hope to be able to travel and enrich and deepen some of these bonds that I have with my friends currently.”
Graduating students will have the upcoming summer to themselves before their one-year commitment to Tsinghua University.
Christian D. Abney ’23, who plans to work in affordable housing development, said he applied to the Schwarzman Scholarship for its leadership development curriculum and geographical location.
“It would be beneficial for me to learn from other leaders and cultivate those relationships that would later allow me to succeed in sort of an entrepreneurial enterprise like I plan,” he said.
Abney said that China “offers a really interesting perspective” on affordable housing development.
“They've been the most successful country in lifting the most people out of poverty over a fairly rapid amount of time,” he added.
Kunho Kim ’17 said he applied to the program because he has always had an interest in studying East Asia.
“I am from Korea, but grew up in Vietnam and went to college in Boston,” he said. “I thought that it would be a great place to get to know more about Asia.”
“I actually thought about applying to Schwarzman [right] after college, but I didn't apply because I wanted to have some more experience,” he said. “I guess just getting back to the school mode, thinking-wise, was a little challenging because I've been out of school for six years now.”
Others said they knew right away that the Schwarzman Scholarship was the correct fit for them.
Claire Jiaqi Jiang, a Harvard Medical School student interested in responding to health disparities, said she knew the Schwarzman Scholarship was exactly what she wanted.
“I wouldn't say that any of it was super easy, except the fact that knowing that this is exactly what I want, and this would be very beneficial in terms of my future career plan,” she said.
“I was lacking a more comprehensive perspective, especially in perspective and politics, so I think the Schwarzman program is the perfect opportunity for me,” she added.
Joyce Zhou ’22-’23 wrote in an email that the program is important to bridge “complex global relationships.”
“The Schwarzman Scholarship cultivates a catalytic environment for collaboration,” she said. “To me, that means not only exploring the world's most pressing issues but also broadening my understanding of how people from diverse backgrounds can work together to solve them.”
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu contributed reporting.
—Staff writer Dekyi T. Tsotsong can be reached at email@example.com.