Five visionary Yalies are named Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford

A soon-to-be Yale graduate and four alumni will study at Stanford University as Knight-Hennessy Scholars.
Henry Zhang, Araba Koomson, Jean Wang, Lydia Burleson and David Jiang

First row: Henry Zhang, Araba Koomson, and Jean Wang. Second row: Lydia Burleson and David Jiang

One graduating senior and four Yale alumni are among 70 students from around the world who have been named Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University. They have been selected based on demonstration of their independent thought, purposeful leadership, and civic-mindedness.

The 2022 Knight-Hennessy Scholars from Yale are Jean Wang ’22, who will pursue a Ph.D. in physics at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences; Lydia Burleson ’21, who will pursue a Ph.D. in English; David H. Jiang, who is studying toward a J.D. degree at Stanford Law School; Araba Koomson ’17, who is working toward a master’s degree in business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business; and Henry Zhang, who is also pursuing a J.D. at Stanford Law School.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cultivates and supports a multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students and prepares them, through a collection of educational experiences, to address complex global challenges. The scholars participate in the King Global Leadership Program and receive up to three years of financial support to pursue a graduate degree program in any of Stanford’s seven graduate schools.

It is a joy to work with the scholars, who come from around the world and across the university, as they build a community that is dedicate to contributing to the greater good,” said Tina Seelig, executive director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars.

Jean Wang, who will graduate from Yale this month with a double major in physics, and mathematics and philosophy, hopes to gain a theoretical understanding of quantum information sciences and apply it in furthering our knowledge of fundamental physics. At Yale, she worked on quantum information theory and dark matter experimental research. She also interned at the Max Plank Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany to develop numerical tools for stellarator optimization. She served as president of Bulldogs Racing and built a Formula Hybrid electric race car with the Yale team. She has been a developmental editor for Distilled Periodical, an annual publication that features pieces on issues of societal relevance, co-founded the ReDirected Studies initiative to explore multicultural perspectives in the study of Western canonical works, and was a violinist in the Berkeley College Orchestra. She is from Shenzhen, China.

Lydia Burleson graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration on nonfiction writing. In her scholarship and writing she advocates for a more inclusive social reality by understanding and representing marginal identity through literature. She aspires to be both a professor and writer, using public humanities to share her research with the communities it aims to serve. At Yale, where she was a QuestBridge Scholar, she was awarded the Jonathan Edwards Creative Writing Prize for her essays on her rural impoverished upbringing with mentally and physically disabled parents. At Dwight Hall at Yale: Center for Public Service and Social Justice, Burleson promoted diverse voices by launching a student magazine and creating communications channels with student and community leaders. She has worked with New Haven nonprofits and with the Yale Admissions Office to increase access to higher education for first-generation, low-income students. She hails from Sulphur Springs, Texas.

David Jiang, who majored in global affairs and political science at Yale, seeks to make healthcare more accessible and affordable by reforming regulation, insurance, and care delivery. He is a published health policy academic at Mayo Clinic, where his research interests range from long COVID to medical AI device regulation. His work has appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiologists, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and the BMJ Open. Jiang is an adviser for the Minnesota Department of Health and was appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to serve on the state’s Board of Nursing. He co-founded Oraculi, a nonprofit science education and mentorship program for underserved communities in Minnesota. He is from Rochester, Minnesota.

Araba Koomson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in global affairs at Yale, is interested in leveraging technology for sustainable African development, with the aim of helping entrepreneurs transform ideas into products with positive impact across the content. At Yale, she focused on inclusive development, working while an undergraduate with the Media Development Investment Fund to protect free media in sub-Saharan Africa, researching public health in Honduras, and interning with a global policy team at Facebook. After graduating, Koomson returned to Facebook (now Meta), where she partnered closely with the Meta Africa team, eventually leading Meta’s Africa Business Week programming in Cape Town. In New York, she led the company’s Black Employee Resource Group, creating service partnerships with organizations including the Lower Eastside Girls Club and Enza Academy. She is from Bethesda, Maryland.

Henry Zhang, who earned a bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics at Yale, aspires to grow technology enterprises and contribute to policy frameworks for innovation. At McKinsey & Company, he advised governments, nonprofits, and companies on their technology strategy. He is the founder of a data analytics startup that was acquired by a venture-backed competitor. He serves on the board of the Rikes Debate Project and, as president of the Yale Debate Association, won the Pan-American Championship, the North American Championship, and the American Parliamentary Debate Association’s Team of the Year award. He was a commentator for ABC’s coverage of the 2016 presidential debates, and also was a contestant on season 30 of the reality television show “The Amazing Race.” He is from Los Angeles, California.

Since 2018, when the first cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars were announced, 339 individuals have received scholarship awards.

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