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Northwestern graduates headed to China for scholarship

Recent grads David Harris and Ye Yuan named Schwarzman Scholars for 2017-18
Northwestern University alumni Ye Yuan (left) and David Harris have been named Schwarzman Scholars for 2017-18. Credit: Northwestern Office of Fellowships

Two Northwestern University graduates have been named to the 2018 class of Schwarzman Scholars, a new scholarship program praised by global leaders from Michelle Obama to Mark Zuckerberg.

 David Harris, a 2014 graduate of the McCormick School of Engineering, and Ye Yuan, a 2011 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, were named Schwarzman Scholars Thursday, Dec. 1.

They will join 127 other students to form the second class of scholars for a year-long master’s program at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, a century-old institution that is one of China’s premier research universities.

Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship, the Schwarzman program is a fully-funded, globally immersive experience designed for future leaders committed to developing an understanding of China and confronting challenges of the 21st century.

“We know that the challenges of the coming century will require each of us, and especially our future leaders, to put aside our differences, reach across borders and face our common challenges with a common resolve,” First Lady Obama said at the program’s convocation in September. “With the education and experience that you all get as Schwarzman Scholars, I know that you’ll be more than ready to meet this moment.”

Scholars live and study public policy, economics, business and international studies at Schwarzman College, an academic and residential building on Tsinghua’s campus built exclusively for the program. The Class of 2018 includes scholars from 30 countries and 75 universities, including 45 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China and 35 percent from elsewhere.

Scholarship winners were chosen via a rigorous selection process. Semi-finalists were interviewed in-person by a distinguished team of reviewers from around the world, including current and formal world government leaders, CEOs and journalists.

The scholarship was created in 2015 by business magnate Stephen Schwarzman with a personal contribution of $100 million. 

David Harris

Harris, who studied industrial engineering and management science, has previously worked at the Department of Energy in the U.S. Embassy of Beijing. Based in Malaysia, he is a consultant in the Energy Insights group at McKinsey & Company, focusing on solving challenges faced by energy companies in Southeast Asia. The 26-year-old said he plans to leverage the Schwarzman Scholars experience to drive change in the energy industry.

Ye Yuan

Yuan, 28, works as a portfolio manager in fixed income at BlackRock, where he focuses on credit and macro investing. Upon completion of Schwarzman Scholars, Yuan said he hopes to pursue a career in China’s pension industry, as the country faces the challenge of serving an aging population. At Northwestern, Yuan double-majored in economics and mathematics.

Stephen Schwarzman

“I am overjoyed with the caliber of students who will make up the second class of Schwarzman Scholars,” said Schwarzman, program founder and chairman and co-founder of Blackstone, a leading global investment firm.

“It has been truly inspiring for me to meet these people, who at such a young age have already started to make an impact on the world,” he said. “Clearly their journey is just beginning, but it is our hope that the scholars will leave Schwarzman College with a better understanding of how to foster friendship, cooperation and collaboration among the peoples of the world.”

Zuckerberg on Schwarzman Scholars

“I had a chance to visit Tsinghua University last year and meet with the students, faculty and staff there,” said Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook. “I can’t think of a better place to study and learn about China and work together to build a better global community.”

Read the full announcement here. Applications for the 2018-19 class of Schwarzman Scholars open in March. To learn more, visit the Northwestern Office of Fellowships or email Amy Kehoe at