Three Yale students and alumni — Zachary Young ’17, Joshua Feinzig ’16 and Benjamin Fleischacker ’17 — have been awarded prestigious postgraduate fellowships for study or work abroad.
The first Yalie to win since 2012 and the third Yale winner overall, Young was named the 2017 Michel David-Weill Scholarship recipient; Feinzig and Fleischacker have been named Luce Scholars.
The Michel David-Weill Scholarship is awarded to one American student per year and draws on an applicant pool of students from 30 top U.S. universities. The bursary allows the awardee to pursue a two-year master’s degree in public policy at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs in Paris. The Luce Scholars Program, meanwhile, provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15 to 18 scholars every year.
Young, an Ethics, Politics & Economics major from Cincinnati, said he was delighted and surprised upon hearing about his win. Having never studied outside the U.S., Young said that he was particularly excited for the opportunity to study overseas.
At Yale, Young was president of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program and competed as a member of the Yale Debate Association. A freshman counselor in Silliman College and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Young has also interned at The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
In Paris, Young said he intends to pursue a two-year master’s degree program with an emphasis on the relationship between free speech and new communications technologies.
Young said he will take the theoretical background he has gained from the EP&E major and explore potential civic and statutory applications.
“In the long term, I want to put one foot in the world of action and another foot in the world of ideas,” Young said. “I will look for opportunities to engage myself intellectually and pragmatically and try to make meaningful, enduring contributions.”
Young added that he could see these ambitions taking the form of law school and a career in appellate law or the judiciary.
Feinzig, also an Ethics, Politics & Economics major at Yale and a South Florida native, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminology at Cambridge as a Gates-Cambridge Scholar. He said the news about the Luce Scholarship left him excited and “immensely grateful.”
A summa cum laude graduate from Yale and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Feinzig said the scholarship was a testament to the support and guidance he received from professors and mentors in college. At Yale, Feinzig co-founded Project Youth Court, a regional alternative juvenile justice system that tasks high school volunteers with trying second-time juvenile misdemeanor-offense suits in New Haven.
Some of Feinzig’s most important work has been investigative in nature: The results of his study on discriminatory prison practices were written up in Newsweek and have played a role in ongoing class-action lawsuits, according to his profile on the Luce Scholars website.
Feinzig said that while on the Luce scholarship, he hopes to work on either criminal justice and penal reform or on problems pertaining to the rights and protections of refugees.
“It will be interesting to explore culturally how a new country’s criminal justice paradigm reflects and even shapes how its citizens think about wrongdoing and criminality,” Feinzig said. “Because criminology scholarship and criminal justice research is geographically imbalanced and heavily focused on American and European contexts, I’m excited to look at things from new and relatively unexplored angles.”
After the one-year Luce scholarship, Feinzig hopes to attend either law school or pursue further graduate work. He added that, after the course of the scholarship, he could see himself working at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, focusing on the situation of the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar, which he characterized as “dire and tragic.” Feinzig added that a further possibility could be working with a government’s ministry of justice.
Fleischacker was on a train back to New Haven from the interviews when he received a call from the director of the Luce scholarships informing him of his selection. Immediately after, he called his parents and sister to give them the news.
At Yale, Fleischacker performed as the principal cellist for the Yale Symphony Orchestra and as a member of the all-cello rock group Low Strung, for which he arranged pieces and served as the business manager. Since graduating, he has been engaged in researching the national music education program in Costa Rica.
“At Yale, I focused on the effects of classical music education on marginalized groups in Latin America, and I hope to globalize my understanding of that issue,” Fleischacker said. “I see the Luce scholarship as an opportunity to gain the cultural and linguistic literacy to continue my research in China.”
Fleischacker said that he would not have a confirmed placement through the Luce Foundation until May but expressed interest in the idea of a position related to ethnomusicology and history in Shanghai or rural China.
Yale Director of Fellowships Rebekah Westphal said she would encourage others to apply for these fellowships in the future, emphasizing that the Michel David-Weill Scholarship is particularly well-suited to students interested in graduate study in the fields of public policy or economics.