Yale News

Four Yale graduates — Seth Kolker ’15, Anthony Kayruz ’17, Charles Stone ’14 and Zachary Young ’17 — are among the second cohort of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, the largest graduate scholarship program in the world.

This year, the scholarship, which provides funding for the first three years of graduate study at Stanford University, was offered to 69 students from 19 different countries. For graduate programs that last more than three years, each student’s department will pay for the rest of their degree. The Yale winners are civic-minded alumni who are interested in pursuing graduate education, according to a March 14 Yale press release.

“We are impressed and humbled by what this new cohort of scholars has already achieved and inspired by their deeply rooted commitment to effect positive and lasting change in the world,” said John L. Hennessy, the Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, in a March 5 press release by the program.

Kolker, who studied ethics, politics and economics at Yale, said he was inspired to return to school to pursue a joint Juris Doctor in law and a master’s degree in education because of his past teaching experience. He told the News that he taught at a low-income public high school in Rhode Island, where he “saw too many kids who were plenty smart to go to a place like Yale, but who never got the chance to do it.”

“I decided to go back to school and spend some more time figuring out how to make these systems work better,” he said.

Still, Kolker said that he hopes to continue learning the “nuts and bolts of making the U.S. education system work better for our kids.” He added that he hopes to either work in school systems, go into policy and politics or chart a more unique path with social entrepreneurship and litigation.

“I’m honored and grateful that the program took a gamble on me,” he wrote in a statement to the News. “I feel like it provides a healthy pressure: It’s now up to me to put this opportunity to the best use I can. You do your best to earn it going forward. I want to keep that in mind every day.”

Kayruz, who also majored in ethics, politics and economics and currently works at NBC News, said that he hopes to make his recently deceased father proud. He plans to attend Stanford Law to advocate for human rights through law, multimedia journalism and public policy, according to a March 14 Yale press release.

“How I wish [my dad and I] could’ve celebrated the amazing news together,” he wrote in an email to the News. “He would’ve been so proud. As I enter this next, exciting phase of my life, I will strive to honor my dad’s memory.”

Kayruz recently helped launch “NBC News Now,” a streaming network which targets its material to millennials.

Stone, who majored in mechanical engineering and global affairs at Yale and hails from Hong Kong, plans to study business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He hopes to use his degree to run a technology company that solves “critical issues for underserved groups, with strong interests in clean energy, infrastructure development, and social services,” according to the Yale press release.

“I’m thrilled and incredibly grateful to have been selected to join the second cohort of Knight-Hennessy scholars,” he said.

The other Yale winner, Young, plans to study law at Stanford. He did not respond to requests for comment.

“We had a huge number of applicants for the Knight-Hennessy this year and I am thrilled for our four scholars,” said Rebekah Westphal, the director of the Yale Office of Fellowship Programs.

The program is named for Hennessy, the chair of Alphabet Inc., and Phil Knight SOM ’62, a co-founder of Nike.

Skakel McCooey | skakel.mccooey@yale.edu