Jacob Gaba '16 and Jordyn Turner '16 selected as Schwarzman Scholars

by Noah Goldstein | 1/12/16 7:42pm

Jacob Gaba ’16 and Jordyn Turner ‘16 were announced as part of the inaugural 111-member Schwarzman scholar class on Monday. As scholars, they will participate in a one-year fully funded master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The scholars were selected from a pool of 3,054 applicants, giving the program a 3.7 percent acceptance rate, global director of admissions Robert Garris said.

Gaba, a computer science modified with digital arts major, initially heard about the program from an email as well as flyers that were put up around campus.

He said that his experience in China on a language study abroad program served as part of his reason for applying for the scholarship.

Gaba said that the LinkedIn profiles of the other selected students made him feel intimidated, but that he is looking forward to interacting with them in addition to the opportunity to advance his fluency in Mandarin.

Gaba, who is known for his viral music video for the song “Happy” by Pharell Williams, said he aims to stay abroad after the program ends and will continue to make films and videos.

Turner, a government and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies double major, said she heard about the opportunity from assistant dean for scholarship advising Jessica Smolin and decided that the opportunity fit well with her interests in post-graduate opportunities and in China.

The first part of the interview process consisted of three essays, Gaba said. Applicants wrote one personal statement on why they chose to apply, another on a leadership experience and the final essay on a current affairs topic.

A reader familiar with each applicants home country goes over the application first, Garris said.

Out of the initial applicant pool, he said that 300 students were selected for interviews, which took place in Beijing, Bangkok, London and New York.

For the interview process, Turner said she went to New York City. The interviews consisted of questions from a variety of experts on global affairs such as former CIA director David Petraeus.

Turner said the experience of answering interview questions from a panel of experts was intense.

She said it was intimidating to speak in front of the panel, especially when the founder of the program walked into the room to observe.

Turner said that she is looking forward to working with the other students while also learning from them and getting to travel back to China. At the same time, she said she is nervous about being so far away from home for a long period of time.

Garris said that the program was looking for students who will be in leadership roles in the future in a variety of ventures.

Garris said that the candidates were evaluated on the following selection criteria: strong intelligence, which Garris described as someone with “a mindset that lets them anticipate trends that are coming and understand their options for addressing those trends,” ; an ability to inspire those around them and character, demonstrated by a sense of determination to finish what you start and a good decision-making process.

Ninety-five percent of the applicants who were accepted will participate in the program, Blackstone senior vice president of global affairs Paula Chirhart wrote in an email to the Dartmouth.

Garris said the program received applications from 135 different countries.

The selected students come from 32 different countries and 75 universities

The countries with the highest number of applications, in order, were the United States, China, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, Garris said. He said the admissions goal was to have 45 percent of the students be from the United States, 20 percent from China and 35 percent from the rest of the world.

The first part of the program, which will begin in the fall, is course-based in order to give the students, each of whom have a different background, a shared knowledge about China and its position in the world, Garris said.

Over the year the students will branch out more with individualized experiences, in which they will take concentration courses among three areas of specialization: international studies, public policy and business and economics.

The last part of the program focuses on an internship-like experience that will take place in Beijing and throughout China, where the students will be connected with mentors in their fields, Garris said.

The Schwarzman program aims to create a $450 million endowment to fund up to 200 students each year to go to China.

Out of the $450 million, $375 million has already been raised from corporations and private individuals, Garris said.

The program was founded by the chairman, CEO and co-founder of the Blackstone Group Stephen Schwarzman, who donated the initial $100 million to the endowment, Garris said.

Schwarzman got the inspiration for the program from his own work at Blackstone, where he saw the large influence China had in global finance and the complexity of deals with China, Garris said. Schwarzman had the idea to connect future leaders from around the world with those in China, which led to the creation of the scholarship. He gathered a variety of academic specialists on China in the form of the academic advisory board in order to design the program itself.

“Say you’re an aspiring minister of health from Brazil, you should know who the future health experts in China are because you met them through Schwarzman scholars,” Garris said.