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Jason Heo ’15 Named to First Class of Schwarzman Scholars

Jason Heo '15 presents his Lang Scholar project, the anti-hunger app Farepath that he co-created with his brother, Yongjun '09, in March.


Jason Heo ’15 is one of just 100 students from around the world selected for the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars.

Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, Schwarzman Scholars offers a one-year master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Its mission: “to prepare the next generation of global leaders for the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.”

“China is a major part of our increasingly global world,” says Heo, who graduated with a degree in economics and political science in May. “This is a special opportunity to study its culture and society and government and its role in the global economy, in a pretty unique way.”

The academic program consists of business, public policy, and international relations study. But it also stresses student life and provides scholars with mentor-guided internships and week-long travel seminars to grasp the issues facing particular cities and provinces.

“There’s nothing like immersing yourself in this world,” says Heo.

Scholars will enroll at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, the dedicated, state-of-the-art academic and residential building constructed for this program. They will spend the year “immersed in international community of thinkers,” within an “environment of intellectual engagement, professional development, and cultural exchange.”

“We look forward to having an inaugural cohort of exceptionally talented, diverse and passionate scholars joining our dynamic learning community,” says Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong.

Schwarzman Scholars, which announced its first class today, drew more than 3,000 applications from 135 countries. It invited 300 semifinalists to interview with a panel of CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, and other international leaders in November, before whittling the field to 100.

Because he wasn’t sure what exactly Schwarzman Scholars was looking for or how he stacked up with the competition, Heo considered his chances “a bit of a shot in the dark.” He was back at Swarthmore visiting friends when he found out he made the cut — which was fitting, he says.

“Beyond the excitement and gratitude, it wasn’t lost on me how important that my experiences at Swarthmore were to me attaining something like this.”

As a Lang Scholar, resident assistant, student government co-president, track and field captain, and anti-hunger app co-creator, Heo displayed the leadership skills that Schwarzman Scholars valued.

“Those experiences were so helpful,” he says, “on top of being things I loved and was fortunate to be able to do.”

Another Swarthmore experience Heo recalls is presenting group information sessions for the admissions office. Toward the end, prospective students would hear that within five years, 80 percent of Swarthmore alumni would return to school. At the time, Heo didn’t see the allure of that prospect.

“But now I totally get that,” he says. “I missed being in a classroom, the structured learning environment. I’m pretty young, too, so what better time to go explore?”

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