Five Columbians, including two College students and a College alumnus, have been named Class of 2024 Schwarzman Scholars. Kewen Kong CC’23, Rory Madigan CC’20 and Charlie Wallace CC’23 will attend Tsinghua University in Beijing next year for a one-year master’s program in global affairs.
Inspired by the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, the Schwarzman Scholars program selects recipients for their leadership potential, intellect and strength of character. This year’s 151 recipients — hailing from 36 countries and 121 universities — were selected from an applicant pool of nearly 3,000.
The Schwarzman Scholars program’s mission is to allow participants to deepen their understanding of China’s changing role in the world and the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to its growing influence as a global power. The program also seeks to promote international understanding, peace and collaboration. Beyond the classroom, scholars learn about China by spending the year traveling within the country, and gain access to professional networks through internships, mentorships, high-profile speakers and engaged faculty members.
Columbia’s other Schwarzman Scholars for the Class of 2024 are David Chen GS’22 and Vish Rao SEAS’23.
Meet Columbia College’s Scholars
Kewen Kong CC’23
Kong is a senior studying comparative literature and Italian studies. Born in Italy and raised in China, he was president of the Hong Kong Students and Scholars Society and a member of the AAPI Rights Board and Columbia Cultural Exchange. He has produced and published several short stories as well as a film about wealth disparity in Hong Kong.
A firm believer in storytelling’s power to overcome political division, Kong says he wishes to institute an international platform that promotes conversation among global leaders who aspire to dissolve cultural borders. Through the Schwarzman Scholars program, he hopes to gain the skills “to foster healthier and more genuine communications between cultures that emphasize our fundamental similarities, rather than exaggerate our minute differences.”
Kong’s advice for prospective applicants: “Reach out to current scholars and learn about their stories. Their advice helped me a lot in my application.”
Rory Madigan CC’20
Originally from New Jersey, Madigan studied political science at the College. His favorite extracurricular activity was playing for the soccer team. “There was a great sense of camaraderie; I still live with some of my teammates,” Madigan says. After graduating, he spent a year teaching English in Taiwan through a Fulbright scholarship, and is now a venture capital associate at Crane Partners.
Through the Schwarzman program, Madigan hopes to study Chinese private markets in conjunction with healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship. He aims to “link Chinese, Korean and U.S. leaders in finance and healthcare to advance digital health across the two continents.”
Madigan’s advice for prospective applicants: “Start early!”
Charlie Wallace CC’23
Wallace, who is from Denver, is double majoring in political science and East Asian languages and culture. He is the current Columbia College Student Council president, a Columbia Admissions tour guide and a Columbia Political Review senior editor. He has served as a legislative intern focusing on foreign policy for two U.S. senators.
Prior to matriculating at the College, Wallace studied for a year in China, including a semester at Tsinghua University. There, he says, “I heard from faculty about the amazing attributes of the [Schwarzman Scholars] program, and it had been at the forefront of my mind ever since.” Wallace ultimately plans to attend law school, with the goal of working in public service, combining his interest in U.S. law and U.S.-China relations.
Wallace’s advice for prospective applicants: “Don't be nervous if the interviewers don’t react to your answers. I had been told that my interviewers would be fairly stoic, and it was interesting not being able to gauge how I was being perceived.”
Current students and alumni can learn more about the Schwarzman Scholars program and other fellowship offerings through the Undergraduate Research and Fellowships office.