The recently founded Schwarzman Scholarship program was modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship but seeks to prepare students for a changing geopolitical landscape. Schwarzman Scholars study leadership skills and the Chinese language and culture while pursuing master’s degrees through Tsinghua University in Beijing. “A win-win relationship of mutual respect and understanding between China and the West is vital to continued global peace and prosperity,” said program founder Stephen Schwarzman at the scholars’ 2016 convocation. Schwarzman is chairman and CEO of global investment firm Blackstone Group.
The inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars included SigEp member Jake Gaba, Dartmouth ’16. Of the 57 U.S. students selected for the program’s second year, three are SigEps: Clay Garner, Stanford ’17; Riley Shearer, Montana State ’17; and Paul Wasserman, Yale ’14.
Clay Garner, a student of East Asian studies, is interested in the Chinese party-state system and the global aspirations of Chinese corporations. He has gained practical experience with security issues in the Asia-Pacific region as a research assistant to former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.
Garner’s interest in China is also cultural. He has built a following as a pop musician and TV personality in China, and received a 2014 fellowship that enabled him to work at a TV station in Taiwan. He has also co-hosted nearly 30 episodes of the Beijing talk show “Beijingke.” “I am passionate about contributing to international understanding and peacebuilding,” said Garner. “My goal is to become a positive leader in media production and U.S. foreign policy.”
Fellow Schwarzman Scholar Paul Wasserman has also gained critical experience as a research assistant. He is currently working in the office of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Wasserman graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in history and a focus on Russian and East European studies. He was the recipient of a 2012 SigEp Study Abroad Scholarship and later a Fulbright fellowship, which allowed him to study in Russia for a year. During his time in China, he plans to study the country’s economic initiative, “One Belt, One Road,” and its impact on Central Asia as well as its geostrategic implications for Russia and the United States.
Reflecting on SigEp’s impact on his academic and career interests, Wasserman said, “SigEp helped expose me to new ideas and diverse cultures. I am fortunate to have met several SigEp alumni, both from Yale and elsewhere, who have provided insight and advice as I have navigated the foreign policy world.”
SigEp’s third Schwarzman Scholar this year, Riley Shearer, is pursuing a career in international health policy and hopes to address global health inequalities. His undergraduate work combined degrees in economics, chemical engineering and biochemistry. He has also designed and implemented sanitation systems in Kenya through Engineers Without Borders. In addition to his global affairs and public policy coursework at Tsinghua University, he will have the opportunity to observe and participate in conversations about China’s current health care reform.
Shearer is a 2017 SigEp Zollinger Senior and has held several leadership positions within the Fraternity, including Student Director and chapter officer roles. “The continuing support of undergraduates and alumni, as well as national leadership programming, has made me a more confident and able leader,” he said.