Applying to the is often a journey of self-discovery. Before applying to the program, I thought about the best way to tell my story inside the Schwarzman application. Knowing that this experience can be complex and often challenging, I wanted to take the time to offer a few insights about applying to the program. Going through this process is your first step to joining the Schwarzman community. Take a deep breath, enjoy the moment, and honestly think about who you are and your why for Schwarzman.

My Journey to Schwarzman

Young Me in Shanghai, China

If you are thinking about applying to the program and reading this blog post, I do not doubt that you are already an exceptional individual. The Schwarzman Scholarship attracts the best and the brightest every year to study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. For me, China has been a part of my life ever since traveling to Shanghai, China, for the first time in 2016. My moments in China always stuck with me. Eventually, this encouraged me to experience other places in Asia (sharing this experience in a future blog post) and compelled me to apply to Schwarzman.

Shanghai, China

1. Schwarzman Community

For each scholar, the journey to Schwarzman and their why for China is vastly different. I’m a huge believer in collecting data points on everything you desire. Information is king, whether it’s a job, a course, or a vacation. In the early days of sculpting my application, I reached out to as many Schwarzman Scholars as humanly possible. Schwarzman is truly a community. The best way to learn about the program is to ask questions and engage. Take notes, get inspired, and build your community network. I promise after every conversation, you will slowly connect the dots on how you should develop your application. The Schwarzman Scholars community is always willing to lend a helping hand, so don’t be shy. Make sure to reach out!

2. Tell Your Story

After going down the path of collecting data points on the program, your next move should be to connect with your Career Services or your Scholarships department at your University. At Columbia, my Career Services Advisor helped me shape my essays. I believe in this process; It’s always good to have a second opinion. This doesn’t have to be someone at your University (for those applying post-undergrad). It can be anyone as long they understand you, your personality, and your career aspirations. However, in your essays, you must show your voice and no one else’s. Tell your story the way you want to tell it.

Going through my process, I only had a few people read my essays and kept a tight-knit group because I never wanted to feel pressure about completely changing my story, which would have made it inauthentic to me. Authenticity is a huge component of producing a winning application, and never sell yourself short. The best way to join the program is to be the best YOU possible. That could be you describing how you led a club at your University, founded an organization in your community, or facilitated educational opportunities for youth. The list can go on and on. Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes, so use your authentic self to tell that story.

3. Determine Your Why for China

Once you have nailed down the story of who you are, the next step would be to connect it to a why for China. Combining these pieces of your application is critically important. It builds a strong foundation for your application and helps articulate a clear vision of what you want to achieve by going to China and joining the Schwarzman Scholarship program. For example, I connected my experience leading innovation and entrepreneurship programs for the to my passion for investing in underrepresented communities. My why for China concluded with me wanting to study the Venture Capital ecosystem in China and deep dive into emerging technologies while studying at Tsinghua University.

China’s Venture Ecosystem is massive, and strategically I want to study how to replicate China’s funding model in places in the world that are undercapitalized. As an African American, this has always been important to me. Having seen diverse founders from undercapitalized communities struggle to get the capital needed to build successful ventures. This has pushed me to build solutions to solve these systematic problems.

Hopefully, you can see how I constructed my application and implemented my voice in my essays. I examined my past experiences, incorporated my passions, and explained how living and studying China would help shape my future. This is a winning formula but not the only formula to shape a competitive application. As I mentioned, the more scholars you chat with, you will quickly realize there are multiple strategies, so either find one that works better for you or utilize mine. I’m sure either will serve you well, so no pressure.

Conclusion

I only add that it’s essential to enjoy this process of self-discovery. I know I benefited tremendously from going through the Schwarzman application process, so enjoy the moment and be kind to yourself. Telling your story is never easy, and reflecting on yourself can be challenging. Still, going through the process, you will become a stronger person no matter the result of your Schwarzman application.

If you have any additional questions about the application, want help thinking through your narrative, or wish to chat about my experience in the Schwarzman Scholars program. I’m always available to chat. Many individuals took the time to help me apply to the program, so it’s only fitting to pay it forward. Feel free to reach out, and again don’t be shy! I would also recommend getting in touch with a Schwarzman Admissions Counselor. They are a great resource and are genuinely there to support you. Be brave, be bold, and be you.

From the time of me writing this, there are exactly 131 days until the application deadline for the 8th cohort. Best of luck and may Schwarzman be in your future. —

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