Stanford senior Riya Verma is the recipient of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship, which provides funding for two years of graduate study at Sciences Po in Paris, France. Verma is the first Stanford student to receive the prestigious award.

Senior Riya Verma is the first Stanford student to receive the Michel David-Weill Scholarship. (Image credit: Courtesy Riya Verma)

“I have been studying French for 13 years, so I am excited to live in France,” Verma said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, as well as for the support the Overseas Resource Center, my professors, mentors and friends at Stanford, my parents and my brother have given me to get to this point.”

The Michel David-Weill Scholarship provides $80,000 for exceptional American college students to pursue graduate degrees at Sciences Po, an international research university that specializes in the social sciences and offers multidisciplinary programs taught in French and English. This fall, Verma will move to Paris where she will begin a master’s program in international development.

This spring, Verma, who is from Westchester, New York, will graduate from Stanford with bachelor’s degrees in computer science and French. During her Stanford career, she has been active on many academic and professional fronts, both on campus and internationally.

Verma served as co-president of the group Engineers for a Sustainable World, a program in the Haas Center for Public Service that aims to address challenges of global poverty and sustainability through engineering. She was also the Community Engaged Learning Coordinator for the course Engineering & Sustainable Development, which teaches ethics in international engineering and service projects. She interned at an educational non-profit in India through the King Center for Global Development, worked with a health nongovernmental organization in Madagascar through the Stanford Graduate School of Business course Design for Extreme Affordability and completed an Engineering in Service fellowship at a clean energy initiative in Indonesia through the Global Engineering Program. Verma recently returned to the United States from Berlin, Germany, where she spent winter quarter studying through the Bing Overseas Studies Program.

She is also a professionally trained cake decorator and sugar artist and is looking forward to engaging with the Parisian culinary scene.

Verma said the David-Weill Scholarship will compliment her Stanford education by helping her gain more experience working on large-scale international development projects.

“Most of my projects at Stanford were focused on engineering products to contribute to sustainable development goals. In these projects I realized that even though I had the engineering and design skill sets, I didn’t have the contextual knowledge to work on an international development project,” she said. “I’m excited about this master’s program because I’ll learn about the international development ecosystem as a whole, with an emphasis on economics and project design.”

The scholarship is named for Michel David-Weill, a Science Po alumnus and former chairman of Lazard Frères, a leading financial advisory and asset management firm. The scholarship is awarded each year to one American student who exemplifies the core values embodied by Michel David-Weill – academic excellence, leadership, multiculturalism, tolerance and high achievement.

Stanford students interested in overseas scholarships and Stanford faculty interested in nominating students for such awards should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at of the Bechtel International Center.