Stanford students among winners of new scholarship for study in China

Two Stanford students are among the 100 students from around the world named 2016 Schwarzman Scholars. The program provides scholarships for a one-year master's degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The program is inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship.

Stanford students Alina Luk and Jordan Shapiro have won 2016 Schwarzman Scholarships for graduate study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a leading university in China known for its scientific and technological research.

Luk, a senior majoring in science, technology and society, and Shapiro, who recently earned a master’s degree in management science and engineering, are among 111 students from around the world who were recently named to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars.

The scholars were chosen through a rigorous application process designed to evaluate intellectual and academic talent, as well as leadership potential, strength of character, ability to anticipate emerging trends and desire to understand other cultures.

Scholars chosen for the highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling and developing a better understanding of China. The program, which attracted 3,000 applicants from 135 countries, was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace.

The scholars will live and study together at Schwarzman College, a state-of-the art facility – with residences, an auditorium and a library – built for the program on Tsinghua’s campus. Each scholar will earn a master’s degree in global affairs, with a concentration in one of three disciplines: public policy, international studies, or economics and business. All of the classes will be taught in English.

During the program, students will have the opportunity to interact with Chinese and world leaders through lectures, internships, mentorships and intensive, in-depth travel seminars.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, a global investment firm, founded the program. He donated $100 million to launch Schwarzman Scholars and is leading a campaign to raise an additional $350 million more to fully endow the program. The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 scholars annually from the United States, China and around the world.

Alina Luk

Luk, 21, plans to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs with a concentration in economics and business at Tsinghua.

Alina Luk

Alina Luk (Image credit: Courtesy Alina Luk)

“I’m a strong believer in the vision of the scholarship, and think that understanding China and its role on the global stage will be essential to future leaders,” she said. “The Schwarzman Scholars program will have a long-lasting impact for future leaders from nations around the world, and I’m so thankful for the chance to be part of that community.”

In her application for the Schwarzman Scholarship, Luk, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, described herself as a “bicultural American Chinese citizen” who wants to engage both cultures and countries in her future professional career.

Luk said she would cherish the opportunity to learn more about technology entrepreneurship in Beijing’s Zhongguancun Science Park, which is often referred to as “China’s Silicon Valley.”

“I hope to spend this time to not only learn and identify possible synergies that could be established, but to also better understand the differences between Chinese and American entrepreneurship in order to bridge the two together,” Luk said.

At Stanford, Luk co-founded the nonprofit organization QRist, which is working with 20 mobile clinics in rural Thailand to set up seamlessly accessible electronic medical records for more than 5,000 patients, a project that has received sponsorship and support from several organizations, including the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, the Father Ray Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Luk said her future professional goal is to design, engineer and transfer culturally compatible technologies.

“Inspired by my Chinese grandmother, I am currently working on building a ‘wearable’ for the elderly, anticipating the needs of the aging population in China,” she said. “I see how the emergence of China is changing the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. I want to be part of that change. I hope to shape that change by designing technologies, bridging U.S.-China cross-border innovation, and leading entrepreneurially.”

Jordan Shapiro

Shapiro, 22, plans to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs with a concentration in economics and business at Tsinghua.

Jordan Shapiro

Jordan Shapiro (Image credit: Courtesy Jordan Shapiro)

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to join the first class of Schwarzman Scholars in Beijing and to help define the relationships that scholars will have with each other and the world at large,” Shapiro said. “I’ve known since the day the program was announced three years ago that I would one day be applying and am grateful to everyone at Stanford and at the Schwarzman Scholars team who has made this milestone possible.”

Shapiro, who earned a master’s degree in management science and engineering in December 2015, also earned a bachelor’s degree at Stanford. He graduated in June 2015 with a degree in bioengineering and a minor in modern languages (Spanish and Mandarin).

In his scholarship application, Shapiro described himself as a “combiner” who is passionate about finding ideas and opportunities at the intersection of seemingly disparate studies.

“My interests vary across a broad spectrum, and I have dedicated my undergraduate and master’s years to satiating my academic curiosity well beyond my core area of study, propelling me to continue learning inside and outside the classroom,” Shapiro said.

“I have used my skills as a combiner to advance my career goal of pursuing international biotechnical business in a manner that enhances the way people live. The Schwarzman Scholars Program will equip me with a deep understanding of Chinese cultural and business practices that will allow me to be an international thought leader, uniting biotechnical advances and diverse marketplaces worldwide.”

At Stanford, Shapiro was named a 2014 Mayfield Fellow. The nine-month program, which includes a paid internship at a Silicon Valley startup, offers students the opportunity to develop the theoretical understanding, practical knowledge and leadership skills needed for starting and growing technology companies.

From 2013 to 2015, Shapiro was the editor-in-chief of Intersect: The Stanford Journal of Science, Technology & Society. He served as class president of the Class of 2015, and as executive chief of staff for the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) for a year – from 2014 to 2015.

Shapiro was the student speaker at the 2015 Opening Convocation Ceremony, an annual event that welcomes incoming freshmen to Stanford and opens the academic year. His speech was titled, “Finding Your Place.”

If Stanford students are interested in overseas scholarships or if Stanford faculty are interested in nominating students for such awards, they may contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center, at, or John Pearson, director of the Bechtel International Center, at