José Miguel Luna (SFS ’15) has been selected as a member of the first class of Schwarzman Scholars, a program that will send 111 students from 35 countries to pursue a Masters degree in either public policy, economics and business or international studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
The program, which was founded by Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone asset management and advisory firm with an initial $100 million endowment, offers scholars from around the world the opportunity to study for a year at one of the top-ranked schools in China.
While at Tsinghua University, Schwarzman scholars pursue a core curriculum through the winter, followed by study in concentrations of economics and business, public policy or international studies. The scholars are also expected to have internships in the spring and opportunities for travel.
Luna’s pursuit of the program was the result of both his desire to learn more about China, a region he studied greatly while at Georgetown, as well as coincidence.
“The program fit my interests really well, almost unbelievably well,” Luna said. “I didn’t know about this program, it wasn’t like I was planning this program for a while … I got the email, I thought it was incredible [so] I did some more reading.”
While abroad, Luna hopes to form a deeper understanding of China’s role in the world.
“I really want to use this year to get a more concrete idea of how China is going to continue to become such a key player specifically in international economics, trade and finance,” Luna said.
While at Georgetown, Luna was founder and president of the Mexican Student Association and was a general manager at Hoya Snaxa. He graduated with a major in International Economics with a concentration in International Finance and Commerce and a certificate in International Development.
Assistant dean in the School of Foreign Service Polly Robey wrote in an email to The Hoya that Luna has the character traits necessary to be a successful scholar.
“José has such a wonderful and warm personality and he is the kind of person that inspires others to get involved and do great things. I have no doubt that he will represent Georgetown extremely well,” Robey wrote.
According to Global Admissions Director for the Schwarzman Scholars Robert Garris, the program was created with the intention of developing leaders with a better understanding of China.
“Steve Schwarzman, when he created the program really had the ambition of building over time a global network of people who are in leadership roles in business and government and the non-profit sector who are more effective at their work because they have a deeper understanding of China,” Garris said.
Applicants from around the world must submit a written application and semi-finalists must attend an interview with politicians, businesspeople and academics. This year, internationally renowned figures such as General David Petraeus, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, participated in certain interviews.
This year the program received 3054 applications and interviewed 300 applicants, before selecting the final 111 scholars.
The program has a 3.7 percent acceptance rate. The Rhodes Scholarship has a .4 percent acceptance rate, while the Marshall Scholarship has a 3.4 percent acceptance rate.
Garris said that the program hopes to develop the same level of prestige as the Rhodes Scholarship.
“I think everyone or almost everyone is aware that Bill Clinton for example is a Rhodes Scholar and we hope that in some point in the future a Prime Minister of Brazil or Thailand or Japan or a President of the United States was a Schwarzman Scholar and everyone points that out,” Garris said.
According to Luna, the Schwarzman Scholars will not only help the scholars who participate, but it will also help improve relations between China and the rest of the world.
“If you take a step back it’s a big necessary process in my opinion for the substantial and thorough forging of the relationship between China and the US, and really China and the rest of the world in general because it’s a global program,” Luna said.