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Six Harvard Affiliates Win Schwarzman Scholarships

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Six University affiliates – including three Harvard seniors – learned Thursday they will have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in Beijing next year through the Schwarzman Scholars program.

Seniors Anirudh Suresh ’20, Christopher M. Vassallo ’20, and Kangrong “Allison” Zhang ’20 each received the scholarship alongside Sara S. Surani ’18, Jullian A. Duran ’18, and Christopher Li ’18. They form part of the program’s fifth class.

This year's applicant pool included 4,700 applicants from 41 countries and 108 universities. Beginning in the fall of 2019, the 145 Schwarzman Scholars will study at Beijing’s Tsinghua University for one academic year, graduating with a master’s degree in Global Affairs.

Scholars can concentrate in public policy, international studies, or economics, and they accompany their classroom studies with hands-on experience in their fields of interest. Students also study Mandarin during their year abroad. CEO and co-founder of financial firm Blackstone Stephen A. Schwarzman founded the scholars program.

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Several of the scholars said they were attracted to the scholarship because it afforded them the opportunity to learn in a different environment.

Zhang, a joint concentrator in applied math and history, said her time growing up in China and the U.S. initially sparked her interest.

“Having grown up in both Beijing and California, I’ve been interested in China and its changing relationship with the rest of the world,” she said.

She said she hopes to ultimately live in China full-time.

“Personally, because I hope to explore the possibility of working in China in the long term, Schwarzman Scholars will also be a great way to begin reintegrating myself into Chinese society,” Zhang said.

Vassallo, who studies history at Harvard, plans to study U.S. foreign policy “from a Chinese perspective.” He added that he one day hopes to work on the state department’s policy planning staff or on the National Security Council.

“These are settings where policymakers hash out key decisions that ultimately shape the relationship between the world’s superpowers,” Vassallo said.

Vassallo added that the scholarship will allow him to take the “first step towards cultivating a unique, authoritative voice on US-China relations.”

“A year as a Schwarzman Scholar will allow me to transition from careful observer to active participant in the debate that is reshaping foreign policy,” he said.

Suresh, a mathematics concentrator, said he is most interested in exploring themes of “artificial intelligence” and “general technology.”

He said he also hopes to learn about “political and social issues” in China and to learn Mandarin.

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