After a four-month selection process, five current or former Yale students have been named to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars, a program founded by Stephen Schwarzman ’69 in 2013.
Through the program, Kyle Hutzler ’14, Nina Russell ’15, Zahra Baitie ’15, Hui Kay Teo ’16 and Corey Meyer LAW ’18 will receive full funding to pursue a one-year Master’s degree in either public policy, economics and business or international studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. This fall, the students will enroll at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, a residential college similar to those at Yale that is being constructed specially for the program. The Schwarzman Scholars program, which is inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, is intended to equip future leaders with an understanding of China’s history, culture and economy to foster greater collaboration among China and other nations.
“The caliber of this first class of Schwarzman Scholars is truly exceptional,” Schwarzman said in a statement. “Each Scholar has demonstrated tremendous leadership potential at a young age and differentiated themselves through a myriad of academic and non-academic pursuits.”
One hundred and eleven students worldwide were selected from a pool of over 3,000 applicants, for an overall acceptance rate of 3.7 percent, according to a Jan. 11 press release from the organization. Of those selected, 44 percent are from the United States, 21 percent are from China and 35 percent hail from the rest of the world.
Yale’s winners are diverse in their interests, which range from neuroscience to law, politics to economics. The selected students said they are each pursuing goals that revolve around a detailed understanding of the region. Teo, for example, hopes to bridge relations between the Eastern and Western worlds by learning about how Japanese ideas will be interpreted in various cultures.
The selections committee — composed of CEOs, heads of state and university presidents, among others — evaluated factors including academic ability, leadership potential, ability to anticipate emerging trends and a desire to explore other cultures.
New major fellowships like Schwarzman Scholars do not arise very often. Though only in its first year of operation, the acceptance rate for Schwarzman Scholars rivals those of more established national fellowships like the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships, which have both existed for decades. However, the program is set to expand significantly to accommodate around 200 scholars in subsequent years, which could reduce the scholarship’s competitiveness depending on changes in the applicant pool.
Schwarzman’s name has been especially well known on campus since he donated $150 million to Yale last May to transform Commons into a state of the art student center. Last spring, he visited Yale to give a presentation on Schwarzman Scholars. This past fall, when fellowship applications were due, Director of National Fellowships Kate Dailinger told the News in October that Schwarzman’s visit helped generate interest in the nascent scholarship among the student body.
In addition to his philanthropy with Yale, Schwarzman donated $100 million in 2008 toward the expansion of the New York Public Library.