The highly competitive program is the leaders of a 21st century global landscape in which China plays a pivotal role.
Lea Thome ’22, a double major in International Relations and Political Science at the college, and Haosong Zheng ’21, a master’s degree candidate in Business Analytics at Simon Business School, are among 151 students and young leaders around the world selected to be the 2022-23 Scholars of the Year Schwarzman.
Nearly 3,000 applicants competed for admission to the prestigious programme, which is now in its seventh year. Created by investor and philanthropist Stephen Schwarzman, the program prepares future leaders by offering an immersive experience in China within an international community of thinkers and leaders in business, politics, and society. Schwarzman scholars pursue a master’s degree in global affairs (in English), study Chinese, take training courses, personal mentorship, high-level speakers, field seminars, and travel to different regions of China.
Four Rochester students and recent alumni have previously been selected for the scholarship: Beauclaire Mbanya ’20, Suman Kumar ’19 (2020-21), Beixi Li ’19M (MPH) (2019-20), and Jintian (Jay) Li ’12 (2016– 17). Thome is the first Schwarzman scholar from the university to be selected when he was still an undergraduate.
“I hope that the two Rochester students from around the world being chosen again for the Schwarzman Scholars Program will inspire more of them to consider this unparalleled opportunity for success-impact,” says Belinda Redden, Director of the Fellowships Office in Arts, Sciences and Engineering. Academic and experiential learning in a country is critical to a more peaceful and connected world.”
Redden, who advises applicants for competitive scholarship and fellowship programs, adds, “We need ambitious and optimistic young people like Thome and Zheng to participate in this fundamental work of intercultural understanding, regardless of how they ultimately choose to use their talents.”
Lea Thomey 22
Thome from Duisburg, Germany, sister city of Wuhan, China. Raised in a family committed to politics, she developed an early and keen interest in current affairs as she monitored and discussed political news and events with her father. While a student at Liv Academy – a high school in Bratislava, Slovakia, designed to prepare future leaders in Central Europe – Tommy trained in the Slovak Parliament, participated in the European Parliament Model in Slovakia, and went on a three-month cultural exchange program in Wuhan.
In Rochester, she became president of the International Student Association. Then, on July 6, 2020, when the Department of Homeland Security announced that international students on M-1 or F-1 visas would not be allowed to take a full course online and remain in the United States, Thome – who will soon become the first to earn a degree A college student in her family – she founded an advocacy site called International Student Action and launched a Change.org petition that has received over 400,000 signatures. Thome’s online activity was part of a widespread backlash in the higher education community that ended with the revocation of the federal directive.
In October 2020, Thom led the three-student Rochester team in the Schumann Challenge 2020, a program of the European Union delegation to the United States. Twenty-nine US college and university teams competed to answer the question, “How should the European Union and the United States respond to China’s alternative models of governance?” Thom explains that the team, which received an honorable mention, “focused on using advanced technologies, such as smart city technology developed by companies like Huawei, to deploy alternative models of governance.”
Her initial interest in technology and international relations came when she attended parts of the 2019 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Science and Technology Summit in Vienna, Austria. She then says, “After participating in the Schumann Challenge, I was inspired to explore the study of other advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition, electronic warfare, and smart city technology. I have been exploring this interest recently through independent coursework and research on China’s rise in international relations.” Modern under the supervision of Professor [Hein] Goemans. “
Recalling her first study abroad experience, in Wuhan, Thom says: “My city sent me to study Chinese language and culture for a semester in our partner city among other selected international students. I am so excited to return to the country that inspired me to continue my search for education abroad” .
Haosong Zheng ’21, ’22S (MS)
Zheng from Beijing, China. While an undergraduate with a double major in Business and Data Science, he established himself as a pioneer in cultural exchange, the arts, and finance.
Towards the end of his first semester in Rochester, Cheng became president of the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, a group that provides mutual support to Chinese students as they adjust to living and studying in the United States. During his four years as president – a position he still holds – he has not only done the usual work of organizing student events, but has also held conferences in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing to help strengthen the university’s Chinese alumni network.
He brought the same dynamic leadership to the Chinese Drama Club, where, as director of a 40-person organization, he grew audiences while simultaneously directing and performing in several club productions.
Since the end of his first year in Rochester, Zheng has spent summers working in Beijing in multiple roles in finance, including the Department of Finance, China Galaxy Securities, and China International Capital Corporation.
Rochester wasn’t Zheng’s first experience with studying abroad; He earned his IB degree from TASIS, the American school in Switzerland, which attracts students from all over the world. There he developed what he described as his long-standing interest in “trying to connect people . . . and giving people the opportunity to get to know and learn from each other.
“I’ve noticed that many Chinese students don’t adjust to the new environment and the local culture very well,” he says. In response, he joined the Student Council and served as a cultural ambassador, planning events designed to be fun, welcoming and educational, for students to learn more about each other, the new academic environment, and the local culture.
Zeng says the Schwarzman Scholars program will be a “precious opportunity for me to understand more about China from new perspectives” as well as, he expects, an opportunity for scholars from other countries to develop an “accurate” understanding of China to replace cultural misunderstandings, adding that it has accompanied the nation’s rapid access as a power This “undermines our bonds as global citizens and as human beings.”
“Countries can cooperate and benefit from their competencies to help in the development of other countries,” he says.
category: student life