McGill student Jasmine Wang has won a coveted Schwarzman scholarship. The undergraduate, who will hold a BA in with a major in computer science and a minor in philosophy, was one of 3,600 applicants from around the world to the Schwarzman Scholars program at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Of those, 400 were interviewed and 154 were chosen who “demonstrate academic excellence … exceptional results in their field and outstanding leadership qualities.”
The program provides a one-year, fully-funded master’s program at Tsinghua University, “designed to build a global community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world.” Two other McGill University students, Jordan-Nicolas Matte and Jonathan Lopez Naranjo, won the prestigious scholarships in 2017.
Jasmine Wang and the Class of 2022 cohort will begin their Master’s programs next August at the research university. Tsinghua alumni include some of China’s most influential leaders, including current and former presidents, Xi Jinping and Hu Jintao – not to mention Wang’s own father, who became the first in his family to attend university, and later emigrated to Edmonton.
Wang said from her family home in Edmonton that she is fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI), but has not yet picked the courses she’ll take in Beijing.
“The syllabus has not been released yet, but I’ll likely be in the policy stream or the communications and culture stream.”
Scientist, builder, artist
Wang describes herself as “a scientist by training, builder by obligation and artist at heart.” Despite not having graduated yet, her CV includes stints at three tech firms in California’s Silicon Valley, and another at the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute (MILA). She has co-founded an AI company, obtained a piano performance degree equivalent, received a $9,000 Fulbright Foundation award to the University of Washington – plus a $100,000-scholarship and another $35,000-scholarship from two Ontario universities. And obtained a research fellowship to Oxford University last summer. She also attended two “incredibly fun summer schools,” studying philosophy at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.
“I’ve reached out to the two previous McGill winners,” said Wang, “and another alumnus I know sent me the syllabus for the courses he took, so I’m excited about that.”
“I’m very interested in meeting business leaders in Beijing, as well as policy and academic leaders.”
Wang is also 80,000 words into writing a novel, in which China-U.S relations play a central role, “so my primary focus in Beijing, outside of my classes, will be on my novel.”
“People of consequence in their generation”
Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University, the comprehensive Schwarzman program offers tuition and fees, room and board, travel expenses, in-country tours, a stipend, books and supplies and insurance. Stephen Schwarzman, the New York billionaire investor who launched the program in 2014, said in a statement: “I am confident these individuals will become people of consequence in their generation: leading intelligently, acting with integrity, and addressing the most pressing global challenges of the 21st century.”
Wang was interviewed for the program on Zoom by “a panel of eight or nine business, non-profit and academic leaders, mostly deans and CEOs.” She and the other winners met Schwarzman in a group meeting, also on Zoom.
A first-generation Canadian who speaks Mandarin at home, Wang has travelled to China five times before, but for short visits.
“I’m very excited to live in China for a year, and understand the country better.”