Yale senior and an alumna to study in China as Schwarzman Scholars

Senior Clara Ma ’19 and 2016 Yale College graduate Seyoung Lee are among the 147 individuals named Schwarzman Scholars, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships.

The Schwarzman Scholar Class of 2020 was selected from over 2,800 applicants. It is comprised of students from 38 countries and 119 universities, with 40% originating from the United States, 20% from China, and 40% from the rest of the world. The Class of 2020 will enroll in August 2019.

Our newest class includes a diverse group of future leaders from around the world. They join a global network of scholars who have committed themselves to being a force for change, regardless of where their professional or personal passions take them. My hope is that a year in Beijing will inspire and challenge these students in ways they haven’t even imagined. I look forward to seeing how this new class will leave its mark,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder, chair and CEO of Blackstone, and chair of Schwarzman Scholars.

The Class of 2020 includes a medical doctor who founded a science policy think tank in partnership with London City Hall and the European Commission; a documentary filmmaker; a captain of the British Army Taekwondo team; the first Muslim elected official in Jersey City history; a classically trained opera singer who was also named Trinity College Dublin’s business student of the year; an activist who successfully petitioned the Obama White House to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States; and a first-generation college student who went on to become a NASCAR driver. 

Senior Clara Ma ’19
Senior Clara Ma ’19

Ma studies geology & geophysics and political science at Yale, with concentrations in aerosol physics and U.S.-Chinese-Russian relations. A climate scientist, she has conducted research in air quality and climate change at the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and most recently at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where she contributed to the development of the cutting-edge DOE Energy Exascale Earth System Model. After winning a nationwide essay contest at age 12 to name the Mars Science Laboratory rover, “Curiosity,” she worked closely with NASA to promote youth engagement in science and space exploration. A former TEDxYouth speaker, her writing has been featured in Mashable, Highlights Magazine for Children, and in the 50-year time capsule marking the 50th anniversary of the City of Cape Canaveral, Florida. At Yale, she served as president of Undergraduate Women in STEM, treasurer of the Student Environmental Coalition, and as an instructor for the largest class of the Evolutions afterschool program at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Seyoung Lee ’16
Seyoung Lee ’16

Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics. At Yale, she founded Open Doors, an organization helping undocumented students to access higher education. After graduating, she worked as the program manager of SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator, scouting promising startups in Asia. Currently, she works as an analyst at Sagamore Investments in Hong Kong, investing in Chinese startups in the FinTech and AI sectors. Lee is passionate about how technology enables financial inclusion. Through the Schwarzman Scholars program, she hopes to dive deeper into the Chinese startup ecosystem and research the applicability of Chinese startup business models in emerging economies.

The Schwarzman Scholars were selected through a rigorous application process designed to evaluate academic ability, as well as leadership potential and strength of character. The selection process relied on readers from different regions and backgrounds who provided insights to identify the highest level of leadership and academic excellence across the world. More than 400 semi-finalists were invited to interview in either Beijing, Bangkok, London, or New York, and went before panels of distinguished figures comprised of CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, non-profit executives, journalists and other leaders from around the world.

Media Contact

Susan Gonzalez: susan.gonzalez@yale.edu,