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William Li ’24 to Explore Global Affairs in China as Schwarzman Scholar

William Li

Reflecting on his time at the College, William Li ’24 pinpoints what makes Swarthmore special.

“It’s the commitment to community as the foundation of learning,” says the Honors economics and political science major from Ellicott City, Md.

Li is determined to bring that commitment to Tsinghua University in China next year, when he explores global affairs through a prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship. He was one of 150 students selected from a pool of thousands of applicants from around the world.

The scholarship was established in 2015 to help “build a community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world.” The scholars pursue a one-year master’s in global affairs at Tsinghua.

Li has long been eyeing and working toward the scholarship. The program speaks to his academic interest in international relations and connects him with people invested in the relationship between the U.S. and China.

“It also gives me the chance to explore the other half of my Chinese American identity,” he says. “Studying in a city, in another country, will be a pretty big adjustment, but I think it’ll be exciting.”

Li expressed gratitude toward Richter Professor of Political Science Tyrene White for supporting him throughout the application process, and for enriching his understanding of political science.

“Now I'm interested in exploring perspectives in political science that I haven't been exposed to,” he says. “I want to spend time at American companies investing in China to learn how they manage community relations in such a different cultural context.”

The scholars will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion — attending lectures, traveling around the region, and developing a better understanding of China. 

“I'm really excited about the diverse people I'll meet,” says Li.

Though less than 10 years old, the Schwarzman Scholars program has become known as one of the world’s most selective graduate and fellowship programs. Tsinghua University is viewed as an indispensable base for China’s political, business, and technological leadership.

Li is the second Swarthmorean to attain the honor, says Fellowships and Prizes Advisor Melissa Mandos, following Jason Heo ’15, now a policy advisor for Governor Wes Moore of Maryland.

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