Seven Yalies will study in Beijing as Schwarzman Scholars

A Yale College senior and six alumni are among the 142 individuals who have been selected Schwarzman Scholars.

They will study for their master’s degrees at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s premier institutions.

The seven Schwarzman Scholars from Yale are senior Lionel Jin ’18, Reid Magdanz ’12, William Drexel ’16, Seth Kolker ’15, Joseph Kim ’16, Junrong Chen ’17, and and Andi Wang ’17.

The Schwarzman Scholar Class of 2019 was selected from over 4,000 applicants. It is comprised of students from 39 countries and 97 universities, with 41% from the United States, 20% from China, and 39% from the rest of the world. The winners will enroll at Schwarzman College on the Tsinghua University campus in August 2018. They will have a year of cultural immersion during their period of study, and will attend lectures, travel, and develop a better understanding of China. Expenses for each scholar are fully funded by the Schwarzman Scholar program.

This class represents the growth of the Schwarzman Scholars network. It has been incredible to see the program expand to 13 new countries and 51 new universities included in the Class of 2019. Meeting these people from all over the world, who at such a young age have already started to make an impact in their respective fields, has been truly inspiring,” said founder Stephen A. Schwarzman ’69.

All scholars will study and reside in Schwarzman College, a LEED GOLD state-of-the-art building at Tsinghua University that was designed to encourage cross-cultural connections and intellectual exchange.

The program’s academic curriculum was crafted by leaders from global universities including Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Oxford, and Tsinghua. In addition to a core curriculum, Schwarzman Scholars will focus on one of three academic disciplines: public policy, economics and business, or international studies. The program has recruited a group of leading professors from Tsinghua University as well as visiting faculty members from leading institutions around the world.

All of our scholars have outstanding achievements and aspirations. At Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, they will begin a new chapter of their lives and be given the opportunity to explore China on the global stage,” said Youqiang Wang, dean of Schwarzman Scholars.

Biographies of the Yale winners follow:

Lionel Jin ’18 will graduate from Yale College in May with a B.S./M.S. in molecular biology and a double major in computer science. He received the Hart Lyman Prize, the highest award in the Yale junior class for character and achievement, and was inducted to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. He was editor-in-chief of the Yale Scientific Magazine, and served as treasurer of European Horizons, a student-led think tank. Jin plans to work in the tech industry and build products “that will transform the way we live.” He is 24 years old and from Singapore.

Junrong Chen ’17 graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He is interested in studying China’s political system and macroeconomic policies. He has conducted research into the impact of local government debts on the land prices in multiple provinces in China. He has acquired first-hand experience on grassroot government entities during an internship in a Communist Party of China’s county committee. He has most recently worked as an intern analyst at the head office of China Development Bank. He is 23 years old and from China.

William Drexel16 is currently a master’s student at the University of Cambridge. He studies the intellectual history of political religion, and has conducted research across Israel, Palestine, and India. Devoted to the rights of the displaced, Drexel served as president of the Yale Refugee Project, and has worked in emergency search and rescue operations in Mediterranean and Aegean migration crises. He hopes to examine the complexities of governance, society, and religion in China, and eventually aims to work in diplomacy. He is 24 years old and from the United States.

Seth Kolker ’15 graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a degree in ethics, politics, & economics. He worked for a social enterprise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a waste pickers’ union in Delhi, and a think tank in Washington before becoming an educator. For the last three years, Kolker taught math at a low-income public high school, where he co-founded a ninth-grade academy and a course on “How to Change the World.” As a Schwarzman Scholar, he plans to focus on how to better prepare Americans for 21st-century global citizenship. He is 25 years old and from the United States.

Joseph Kim ’16 received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Yale. During his time on campus, he was selected from the U.S. Northeast region to present his research on bulk metallic glass at ASME's International Mechanical Engineering Science Symposium in Montreal. As a Light Fellow abroad in China and Korea, he worked with the North Korea Strategy Center to develop new technologies that would increase outside media viewership in North Korea. He won the senior department prize for his project on on-demand energy consumption visualization. Kim continues his work in energy efficiency as the lead production engineer at Oracle Utilities Global Business Unit, which has saved enough energy to take the entire city of Pittsburg off the grid for a year. Through the Schwarzman Scholars program, he hopes to learn how to harness technology to solve social problems of the 21st century. He is 24 years old and from the United States.

Reid Magdanz ’12 focused his Yale studies on natural resource policy and management. After graduation, he worked with hydropower development projects as a Luce Scholar in Vientiane, Laos. Reid then interned for the Obama White House before returning to Alaska, where he has spent most of the last five years staffing for a member of the Alaska House of Representatives. Magdanz is concerned about the challenges rural people face in a global economy, indigenous language revitalization, transitioning to renewable energy, and promoting humility-based, fact-oriented politics. He is 27 years old and from the United States.

Andi Wang ’17 graduated from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. He is a believes in harnessing the power of rigorous economic theories and econometric tools to promote social welfare. During college, he interned as a loan officer at CFPA Microfinance, China’s largest microfinance NPO, and studied the theories of microfinance in school. After college, he worked as a research associate at the finance unit of Harvard Business School. His current research interests include pension design and asset pricing. He is 23 years old and from China.

Stephen Schwarzman is the chair, CEO, and founder of Blackstone. The Schwarzman Scholars program was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace. 

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