Jose Luna (SFS ’15) studied International Economics with a concentration in International Finance and Commerce at Georgetown. Jose is a 2017 Schwarzman Scholar.
As a China person since freshman year of high school, after graduating from Georgetown SFS in 2015, I knew I wanted to eventually find my way back to China. I had heard about the Schwarzman Scholars Program before graduating and I also knew I would apply as soon as the applications for the first cohort were open. As a completely new program, Schwarzman was and continues to be wrapped in an air of mystery and ambiguity. Many people, myself included, thought that Schwarzman was ideal for candidates with previous China experience, a certain level of Mandarin and/or a desire to live and work in China. The program’s leadership refers to it as the Rhodes of China and emphasizes that it is not a “China person” program. At the same time, many others still haven’t even heard of it. Regardless of where you stand, I will take this opportunity to share with you all what, at least from my experience, Schwarzman is really about.
First of all, Schwarzman is truly for all backgrounds, and it gains a lot from its diversity. In terms of language, nationality, field, interests, etc, my cohort at Schwarzman was very diverse (and I understand the second and third cohorts even more so). This program is really not for just one or two archetypes of students, it’s really for anyone with leadership potential and an idea of how China will be important in their careers. So don’t be discouraged if you think you aren’t competitive because you don’t know Chinese or you haven’t been to China before — in many ways, this could even work in your favor!
Secondly, Schwarzman, combined with Tsinghua University, is a platform. Given the diversity of backgrounds and interests as well as the duration of the program, it’s hard to make Schwarzman very academically specialized. You are offered a wide variety of good academic options, of course, but you’re also given the flexibility and time to go do whatever it is that you are in China to do. Regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur, a policy expert, a mechanical engineer, a doctor, etc., Schwarzman and Tsinghua combined provide a highly effective platform that can open many otherwise difficult-to-open doors. Even though Schwarzman is still a young program and some may still not know of it, Tsinghua is arguably the best university in China and quickly climbing in global rankings. Being a Tsinghua Student in China is a huge deal…add on top of that the Schwarzman element and this “platform” can become very powerful, it’s up to every Scholar’s own initiative to make the best of it.
Lastly and most importantly, Schwarzman is a life-changing experience. It’s a time to get out of your comfort zone, explore, learn, reassess and make great friendships. The College is a beautiful building with tremendous facilities and a great community of fellow scholars; nonetheless, it’s combining the experiences inside the College with leaving the College that is most impactful: an internship somewhere in Beijing, a trip to remote parts of China with other scholars, sharing your country’s food with the Tsinghua community, a Mexican Christmas party in the college. These are all examples of what I did during my year in China and I can confidently say these were the experiences that I enjoyed immensely and cherish to this day.
Today, Schwarzman provides not only a home every time I go to Beijing, but also a home in every place where Schwarzman Scholars live. Just like the Hoya alumni network allows me to share this reflection with you today, the Schwarzman network is very active and it allows me to keep in touch with members of my class and subsequent classes as well. Just yesterday 30-35 current scholars visited me in Shanghai, where I currently work and live.
I hope you will all consider applying, there are currently only two Hoya Schwarzman Scholars, so we need more! Please reach out with any questions and let me know if you’re ever in Shanghai!
Jose with other Schwarzman Scholars