Six Princeton seniors awarded Schwarzman Scholarships for study in Beijing

Princeton seniors Jacob Cannon, Preston Lim, Samuel Maron, Emery Real Bird, Molly Reiner and Kevin Wong have been named Schwarzman Scholars. The Schwarzman Scholarship covers the cost of graduate study and living toward a one-year master's program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

For its second class, 129 scholars were selected from around the world. The scholars will study economics and business, international studies, and public policy. The courses will be taught in English by professors from Tsinghua as well as visiting scholars and will start in August. Cultural immersion and travel also are key elements of the scholarship. Blackstone investment firm co-founder Stephen Schwarzman founded the scholarship program, and the scholars will be housed on the Schwarzman College on the Tsinghua campus.

Jacob Cannon

Jacob Cannon (Photo courtesy of Jacob Cannon)

Jacob Cannon, a concentrator in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs who is from Scarsdale, New York, will focus his studies on public policy.

Cannon first experienced a curiosity about Chinese affairs when he tried to learn Mandarin from friends in high school. He has since pursued a certificate in Chinese language and culture and, in the summer of 2014, participated in the Princeton in Beijing program, completing two semesters of Mandarin study. In the fall of 2016, he participated in a Wilson School seminar focused on the rule of law in China, inspiring him to pursue a career in U.S.-China relations.

Cannon, a member of Whitman College, has served for two years as a member of the executive committee of the Undergraduate Student Government and was also a member of the University's Special Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

"I first met Jacob on a diversity task force created to respond to the demands for more equity and inclusion on campus," said Carolyn Rouse, professor of anthropology and chair of the Department of Anthropology. "I was deeply impressed by his efforts to bridge communication between those cynical and openly hostile to the student protests of 2015 and those fighting to make Princeton a more inclusive campus. Jacob is a compassionate and skilled leader."

Cannon had an internship at PayPal in Israel in the summer of 2015 and served in the White House Internship Program in the summer of 2016. In the long term, he hopes to become U.S. ambassador to China or a member of the National Security Council.

"The Schwarzman program offers the immersive experience that I need to begin my journey with China and the world," Cannon wrote in his application. "With its network of academia, speaker series, internships and travel seminars, I will be developing the cultural know-how and network to transform the U.S.-China relationship, one too often marred by skepticisms and misperceptions. And on my end, I hope to build lasting connections and community within the program as well as promote a genuine enthusiasm for learning about Chinese society, all within a group of aspiring leaders seeking to change the world."

Preston Lim

Preston Lim (Photo courtesy of Preston Lim)

Preston Lim, a major in Near Eastern studies, experienced China's growing international reach while participating in a PIIRS Global Seminar in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the summer of 2014.

There Lim got to interact with Azerbaijani and American officials. But he also took lessons from everyday life, listening to the different Chinese dialects spoken by engineers, miners and logistics specialists filling an eatery in the capital of a nation where China now sends more exports than the United States.

"While visiting Azerbaijan, I saw firsthand how China isn't just the future of the Near East; it's very much part of the present," Lim wrote in his application. "As a Schwarzman Scholar, I hope to gain a much deeper understanding of China's growing influence and power beyond its borders, focusing in particular on China's pivot toward what many of its diplomats term the 'Near West.'"

Lim, who is pursuing a certificate in history and the practice of diplomacy, has held internships at law firms in Hong Kong and Beijing. He also spent two months in Turkey during the summer after his sophomore year.

On campus, he has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was a recipient of the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence after his sophomore year. Lim also received the F.O. Kelsey Prize for best junior paper in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He is founder and editor-in-chief of of the Princeton Historical Review, an academic journal highlighting University undergraduates' independent work. Lim, a member of Rockefeller College, has also served as president of the Princeton University Orchestra.

Lim, who hails from Vancouver, Canada, hopes to pursue a career as a foreign service officer for the Canadian government.

"Preston is exceptionally intelligent, and his self-discipline exceeds anything that I have witnessed in my time at Princeton," said Michael Reynolds, associate professor of Near Eastern studies. "But what I cherish in Preston no less than his drive and raw talent is his inveterate good cheer, earnestness and modesty. He has the makings of both a first-rate scholar and a dedicated public servant."

Samuel Maron

Samuel Maron (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications)

Samuel Maron, a concentrator in neuroscience from Petersham, Massachusetts, wants to combine his passions for health care and entrepreneurship to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of health care in emerging markets.

With his goal of creating an innovative health care company in mind, Maron has charted a path that will take him next to Beijing as part of the Schwarzman program and then to medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, which serves a sizable population of patients with roots in China.

Maron expects his experience in Beijing to give him valuable insights into Chinese culture, language, government and business. He expects these lessons to play a significant role in his ability to think innovatively about his time at Mount Sinai. 

"The Schwarzman will provide me with the international business and political exposure to understand how I can take my experience in medical school and apply it to scaling a health-care company globally," Maron wrote in his application.

Maron, a member of Rockefeller College, has pursued coursework in high-tech entrepreneurship, macroeconomics, international diplomacy and religions of China. He was awarded the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence following his sophomore year. In November 2015, he participated in Silicon Valley Tiger Trek as one of 20 Princeton students selected to be part of a delegation to meet with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He has experienced a wide range of health care settings as a volunteer, intern and researcher in Boston, Massachusetts, Israel and India. Maron participated in stem-cell research for medical applications in the United Kingdom as part of the the International Internship Program. In addition, he conducts strategic research for a health care startup called Zipdrug.

"I first met Sam on the Silicon Valley Tiger Trek, where he impressed everyone with his deep knowledge of neuroscience and his fascination with entrepreneurship as a platform for impact," said Chris Kuenne, lecturer in electrical engineering and the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. "Later in that same year, I had the pleasure of having Sam in my class, 'High Tech Entrepreneurship,' where he continued to inspire his classmates and me with his soulful desire to make a difference — a hallmark of our great institution and one I know he will carry with him into this prestigious program."

Emery Real Bird

Emery Real Bird (Photo courtesy of Emery Real Bird)

Emery Real Bird, of Hon-dah, Arizona, is a concentrator in politics who is also pursuing a certificate in East Asian studies.

A member of the N'dee (Apache) and Apsáalooke (Crow) tribes of Arizona and Montana, respectively, Real Bird was inspired to study the ethnic minorities in Yunnan, China, for Princeton's Bridge Year Program — a gap-year program that provides incoming first-year students the opportunity to pursue a year of community-based service abroad. During his time in Yunnan, he volunteered with the World Wide Fund for Nature studying the Upper Mekong River ecosystem and also helped Tibetan minorities rebuild a hydropower watermill with the rest of the Bridge Year group. Real Bird also participated in the Princeton in Beijing summer program after his first year at Princeton.

After the Schwarzman, Real Bird hopes to pursue his interest in sustainable business and economic development and to "further study ethnic minorities in China that have a stake in development of water resources," he wrote in his application. "I believe understanding how China balances their rich heritage and ethnic minority concerns with economic and infrastructure development will help other countries, like the U.S., manage these concerns as well."

At Princeton, Real Bird has pursued coursework in macroeconomics, Mandarin Chinese and Chinese financial markets, and spent summers in internships at the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., and the Seven Post Investment Office in San Francisco.

Outside the classroom, Real Bird, a member of Whitman College, re-organized Princeton's Native student organization — renaming the group Natives at Princeton in order "to create a space where Natives and those interested in indigenous culture from around the world could gather," he wrote in his application. He worked with the Carl A. Fields Center for Diversity and Inclusion to create Native American programming on campus, and a sustainable recruiting and retention plan for the club. During his tenure, the organization grew from three to over 50 members, representing a diverse and engaged group of Princetonians.

"Emery is a student leader who truly prizes service. From his Bridge Year experience, to his activism on behalf of Native peoples at Princeton, to his scholarly work on the ethnic minorities in China, he has demonstrated an eagerness to explore the complex interactions between public policies and the everyday life of indigenous populations," said Sandra Bermann, the Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and professor of comparative literature, who also is the head of Whitman College.

"Emery is curious, brilliant, compassionate and already adept at cross-cultural communication," Bermann said. "The Schwarzman Scholarship will be a perfect opportunity for him to hone his skills and prepare for a life of public service in a global context."

Molly Reiner

Molly Reiner (Photo courtesy of Molly Reiner)

Molly Reiner, of Potomac, Maryland, a Wilson School major, is also pursuing a certificate in Chinese language and culture.

"I believe that the most promising avenue for sustainable cooperation between the U.S. and China is through commerce and trade," Reiner wrote in her application. In summer 2015, she participated in Princeton's International Internship Program, working as a reporter for the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, Taiwan, with support from a Ferris Grant for Student Internships in Journalism. "In my interviews with some of Taiwan's business leaders, I got a firsthand look at the power of business interactions to stabilize diplomatic relationships," she wrote.

At Princeton, she has pursued coursework in Chinese, microeconomics, international relations, Chinese politics, Asian capital markets and international development.

Outside the classroom, Reiner, a member of Butler College, was editor-in-chief of American Foreign Policy magazine from fall 2014 through spring 2016 and president of Tigers for Israel during fall 2015.

In spring 2016, as a research assistant to Rory Truex, assistant professor of politics and public affairs in the Wilson School, Reiner helped categorize Chinese laws for a project about authoritarian legislative gridlock in China's National People's Congress.

"Molly is a thought leader on the Princeton campus, and she seems destined to be a thought leader on issues of American foreign policy in her post-Princeton career," said Truex. "This intellectualism is paired with a capacity to manage others and reform organizations, which is a very powerful package. She represents the very best of a rising generation of China experts."

Kevin Wong

Kevin Wong (Photo courtesy of Kevin Wong)

Kevin Wong, a concentrator in philosophy, is fascinated by the intersection of philosophy and policy and the interaction of theory and practice.

For Wong, these ideas have come together in the cinderblock rooms of a New Jersey prison, where he co-teaches a weekly course on philosophy. Under the classroom’s fluorescent lights, Princetonians and prisoners grapple with history's most provocative questions in the Prison Electives Project. Wong co-founded the initiative, which develops and delivers humanities courses in New Jersey state prisons.

"These conversations have impressed upon me the urgency of a moral perspective," Wong wrote in his application. "I want to spend my career at the crossroads of policy and ethics, using philosophy's piercing reason to motivate our moral duties, and the powerful tools of policy to turn our convictions into action. For both, I cannot think of training grounds better than the Schwarzman."

Wong wrote that China represents a unique opportunity for the movement known as effective altruism, which seems to redress the world's gravest inequities through evidence-based giving. China's political system creates special challenges to widespread adoption of effective altruism there, he said.

Wong, a graduate of the Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Victoria, British Columbia, and a Davis UWC Scholar, has been a captain of Princeton Mock Trial and is chair of the Representatives to the Princeton Honor Committee, which advocates for students called before disciplinary tribunals. Wong also participated in Princeton's study abroad program at Oxford and the International Internship Program in the United Kingdom.

"I've had the joy of having Kevin in three of my courses," said Christy Wampole, assistant professor of French and Italian. "In each course, Kevin's contributions to our discussions were incredibly well-informed and convincing. Not only is Kevin's French impeccable, his argumentation is sharp — he clearly has the mind and method of a philosopher — and he has a keen understanding of rhetorical nuance and persuasion."

In the long term, Wong, who is from Toronto, plans to either pursue a Ph.D. or a career in Canada's civil service, with the goal of establishing a prison education program in Ontario.