Stanford senior and alumna named 2017 Schwarzman Scholars

A student and an alumna are among the 129 students from 30 countries named 2017 Schwarzman Scholars. The program provides scholarships for one-year master’s degree programs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Stanford senior Clayton Garner and alumna Kimberly Diane Chang have won 2017 Schwarzman Scholarships for graduate study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a leading university in China known for its scientific and technological research.

Garner, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree with honors in East Asian Studies, and Chang, who earned a master’s degree in management science and engineering in 2016, are among the 129 students from 30 countries who were named Schwarzman Scholars.

The program’s curriculum bridges the academic and professional worlds to educate students about leadership and about China’s expanding role in the world.

The Schwarzman Scholars will spend a year immersed in an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society at Tsinghua. They will live and study together at Schwarzman College, a state-of-the-art facility – with residences, an auditorium and library – built for the program on the university’s campus.

Each scholar will earn a master’s degree in global affairs with a focus in one of three disciplines: public policy, economics and business, or international studies. All classes are taught in English. The program was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace.

Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder of Blackstone, a global investment firm, founded the program. He contributed $100 million to launch the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources 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.

Clayton ‘Clay’ Garner

Garner, 22, plans to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs, with a focus on economics and business, at Tsinghua. He said he was “humbled and excited” to receive the scholarship.

“Now more than ever, it is crucial that student leaders around the world seek opportunities to build mutual understanding and respect between different peoples and cultures,” he said. “As one of the few East Asian studies majors at Stanford, I have had the opportunity to explore my passion for studying China while being immersed in the wonderfully interdisciplinary environment that Stanford offers.”

Clay Garner portrait photo

Clay Garner (Image credit: Courtesy Schwarzman Scholars)

In his application for the scholarship, Garner said he hoped to better understand the global aspirations and unique challenges of the Chinese digital media industry and its relationship with the party-state system.

“Digital media companies like Youku and iQiyi have captured huge audiences in China, but could they ever compete in international markets? Through Schwarzman courses such as Global Media and Communication: Theories, Practices and Trends, I would immerse myself in a Chinese academic setting while maintaining a broader global media vision.”

Currently, Garner is completing his honors thesis, “The Evolution of Cyber Neo-Maoism,” which investigates the implications of grassroots neo-Maoist rhetoric on the Chinese internet. He is also working as a research assistant to Karl Eikenberry, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, at the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, a project of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford.

He is also a 2016-2017 Student Fellow of the Georgetown University U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues, which hosts bilateral conferences in Washington, D.C., and Beijing.

Andrew G. Walder, a professor of sociology and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford, said Garner was “uniquely qualified” for the scholarship because of his academic and language skills and his ability to reach out across cultures.

“Clay is a superb student academically,” Walder said. “His Chinese is already fluent and he’s doing research in Chinese sources for his honors thesis,” he said. “More interesting is that he has become something of a media personality in China, starting with posting recordings of himself singing Chinese language songs on the internet back when he was in high school. He has also appeared on local talk shows.”

In 2012, Garner became a pop star in China when his homemade Mandarin music videos – covers and original songs – went viral on Chinese social media websites. Later that year, he performed at Youku’s TV gala in Beijing. In 2014, he performed on China Central Television and the Taiwanese talent show Superstar, and in 2015, he filmed nearly 30 episodes as assistant host on the Beijing TV talk show Beijingke, which aims to build cross-cultural dialogue and understanding between Chinese youth and visitors to Beijing.

As a rising sophomore, he spent a summer as the 2014 Stanford Taiwan Democracy Project Fellow, where he interned on the most popular evening news TV program in the country and conducted research on the Taiwanese media environment.

Garner is passionate about promoting bilateral student dialogue between Americans and Chinese. From 2014 to 2015, he was a student delegate to the Forum for American-Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES).

Garner formerly served as co-president of the Stanford Association for International Development, a student group dedicated to promoting awareness of international development by connecting students with the scholars and leaders in the field.

Kimberly Diane Chang

Chang, 27, plans to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs with a focus in public policy as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University. She said she was “thrilled and very grateful” to have been selected for the program.

“I am thankful to Stanford for giving me the freedom to take classes outside of my department and for giving me access to professors with amazing life experiences who are able and willing to teach about the intricacies of international relations, public policy, entrepreneurialism and the influence of technology on all three,” she said.

Kimberly Diane Chang portrait photo

Kimberly Diane Chang (Image credit: Courtesy Schwarzman Scholars)

“Few other places could offer students access to as great a depth of related knowledge and experience as Stanford. I am especially grateful to the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and the departments of Management Science & Engineering, East Asian Languages & Cultures, and International Policy Studies.”

Currently, Chang is working as the global supply manager for products produced by Nest Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., which is also the parent company for Google. Nest Labs, a home automation company located in Palo Alto, produces programmable, self-learning, sensor-driven, WiFi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, and indoor and outdoor security cameras.

In her Schwarzman Scholarship application, Chang said her professional life has been based around interests in mechanical hardware, global supply chains, logistics and a desire “to be where change is happening fast.” She said her graduate studies at Stanford allowed her to study different methods of problem solving, and to venture beyond engineering to take classes on cybersecurity policy and U.S. security relations in northeast Asia.

“At Stanford, I was exposed to public policy as a field for the first time and was intrigued,” she said in her application. “I became aware of the need for more people with technical backgrounds to take up public policy, and of the potential for people with different approaches to problem solving to provide new perspectives on how to address intractable issues of great importance.”

Chang is interested in how people with technical backgrounds can engage with the policy process to help develop more effective and technically sound policies.

At Stanford, Chang was the lead course assistant for the inaugural class of Hacking for Defense: Solving National Security Issues with the Lean Launchpad. She launched an extensive marketing campaign to recruit students, created a course website, managed four course assistants and coordinated the activities of five instructors, 10 military mentors, eight governments sponsors and more than 20 industry mentors.

In 2016, Chang was named a Draper Fisher Jurvetson Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. She was one of 12 master’s students chosen for the program, which helps students develop entrepreneurial skills through mentorship, coursework and experiential learning.

Tom Byers, a professor (teaching) of management science and engineering, and faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, said Chang’s selection as a Schwarzman Scholar was extremely well deserved.

“Kim has demonstrated a fantastic ability to bridge both engineering and social science disciplines as well as academic theory and practical applications,” he said.

International scholarships

Stanford students interested in learning more about the Schwarzman Scholarship – and Stanford faculty and staff wishing to nominate students – should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center, at; or John Pearson, director emeritus of the Bechtel International Center, at