Two Yale alumni to hone leadership skills as Knight-Hennessy Scholars

The Knight-Hennessey Scholars receive up to three years of financial support for graduate study at Stanford University.
Gretchen Knaut and Winston Huynh.

Gretchen Knaut ’20 and Winston Huynh ’19

Two Yale College alumni — Winston Huynh ’19 and Gretchen Knaut ’20 — are among 85 scholars from 29 countries to be named Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University.  The scholars were selected for their independent thought, leadership, and civic-mindedness.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars is a multidisciplinary, multicultural graduate scholarship program that helps develop future leaders. The scholars receive up to three years of financial support to pursue graduate studies at Stanford while also engaging in experiences that prepare them to tackle global challenges.

Huynh will pursue an M.B.A. in business at Stanford, and Knaut will earn a J.D. in law. They were selected from 7,119 applicants.

In a world that continues to grow more complex, Knight-Hennessy Scholars are building the knowledge, skills, and community needed to address our biggest challenges, from climate change to immigration to equity in health care and education — and so much more,” said John . L. Hennessy, Stanford University president emeritus and the Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. “I believe these scholars will help build a better future for all of us.”

A core part of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars’ experience is the King Global Leadership Program, which offers a wide range of workshops, lectures, projects, and other engagements that complement scholars’ graduate school education, helping to prepare them as leaders.

I am inspired by our scholars every  day,” said Tina Seelig, executive director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. “Their diversity is our strength. During their time with us, Knight-Hennessy Scholars build an incredible community that expands their world and their potential for impact.”

Winston Huynh, who is from San Jose, California, graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 2019, earning both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biomedical engineering with a focus on deep learning for image processing and analysis. While at Yale, he was the recipient of the university’s Henry Prentiss Becton Prize for exceptional achievement in research. A first-generation college graduate and son of refugees, he aspires to use his engineering and investing backgrounds to empower socioeconomically disadvantaged communities by improving the efficacy and accessibility of diagnostic imaging. Before Stanford, Huynh was a senior investment associate at Partners Capital, where he managed the multi-asset-class portfolios for charitable institutions and helped establish the company’s West Coast business. He has also worked at the Yale Investments Office and led a project with Rotary International to improve health care access for Syrian refugees in Turkey. He co-authored a publication in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Gretchen Knaut, from Golden, Colorado, graduated magna cum laude from Yale with a double major in global affairs and Russian and East European studies. She aspires to strengthen and protect democratic institutions in the United States and globally, leveraging her legal education to amplify voices and votes on behalf of vulnerable communities worldwide. She co-founded and served on the board of the State Democracy Defenders PAC, an organization dedicated to supporting U.S. state parties and their voter protection functionalities, and simultaneously was the research director for a pro bono firm focused on democratic protection and voting rights. She has worked with McLarty Associates, an international strategy company, and interned for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and Tbilisi, Georgia. She authored an award-winning essay on post-Soviet LGBTQ-I activism based on interviews she conducted in Moldova and Georgia.

Founded in 2016, Knight-Hennessy Scholars is named for philanthropist and Nike Inc. co-founder Phil Knight, who earned his M.B.A. from Stanford in 1962., and Stanford’s President Emeritus John Hennessy, chair of Alphabet Inc. It is the largest fully endowed graduate fellowship in the world.

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