Two Stanford students named 2018 Schwarzman Scholars

Dec. 7, 2016, 7:07 p.m.
(Courtesy of Jordan Shapiro)
(Courtesy of Jordan Shapiro)

Clayton Garner ’17 and Kimberly Diane Chang M.S. ’16 were named 2018 Schwarzman Scholars, earning the opportunity to study in China for their master’s degrees. Garner and Chang were selected for the scholarship program along with 127 other students from 30 countries with a program acceptance rate of less than four percent.

Garner is pursuing a bachelor’s degree with honors in East Asian Studies, while Chang earned her master’s degree in Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) last year. As Schwarzman Scholars, Garner and Chang will spend a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing, studying innovation, business, politics and culture.

Two Stanford alumni, Alina Luk ’16 and Jordan Shapiro ’15 M.S. ’16, were named 2017 Schwarzman Scholars last year, receiving the inaugural Schwarzman Scholarship. Luk earned a bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology and Society (STS), working on a number of startups and prototyping a wearable device for the elderly. Shapiro graduated as an undergraduate with a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering and a minor in Modern Languages and earned his master’s in MS&E.

The Daily spoke with both Garner and Shapiro regarding their paths to the Schwarzman Scholarship while studying at Stanford, one student’s rise to fame as a Chinese pop star and another’s ambition to use biotechnology to change lives.

Clayton Garner

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Can you tell us a little bit more about the Schwarzman Scholars program?

Clayton Garner (CG): The program is a one-year master’s degree at a university in Beijing. I’ll be doing a master’s in global affairs trying to meet as many Chinese people as possible and expanding my knowledge of China, international relations and how the Chinese society works.

TSD: What made you pursue applying to be a Schwarzman Scholar?

CG: I’ve always been really interested in China. Prior to Stanford, I had a music career in China for a while and always thought it would be a good place to study. I want to learn how China interacts with other countries and the United States.

TSD: How did your music career in China start?

CG: In high school, I started learning Chinese, and I was always a singer-songwriter. I decided to combine both interests and made a bunch of videos that went viral in China, and companies over there started to contact me. I was doing that for a couple years, so I spent a lot of time going back and forth from China. In 2014, I went to Taiwan and did a show there. I also studied abroad last year in Beijing and was the co-host for a TV show, on the main TV station in Beijing, which is more of a talk show for youth in Beijing with a lot of guests coming on the show to talk about cultural traditions. I was one of the assistant hosts and got to ask the guests questions. It’s kind of surreal; I have attention going on the other side of the world, but I got to experience being a normal high school student coupled with learning about their culture.

TSD: How has Stanford shaped your passions?

CG: Just by the nature of Stanford being focused on tech and having the Silicon Valley right here, it’s easy to focus on other things besides internal relations and focus on how all things interact. This has pushed me outside of my own academic interests. A lot of extra-curricular activities here, like FACES, also taught me how important it is for young people to have dialogue and build respect for other people’s views.

TSD: What are your goals following your time in Beijing with Schwarzman Scholars?

CG: Eventually, I want to start a media company that bridges America and China. It would be cool to see what kind of cultural experimentation might be possible if we had more collaboration in entertainment. [My music career] guided me into that direction. Media is a very important tool, especially in politics. There’s so much influence it has in terms of culture and understanding other people, it’s a natural path for me. It’s also a way to be creative and engage in strategic thinking.

TSD: What is it about China that fascinates you so much?

CG: I’ve always really liked languages — in high school I took Spanish and loved it. My high school offered Chinese, so I started taking it. It’s such a foreign place at first. The more you study it, the more you realize the similarities between the U.S. and China. The more you study the culture and language, the more you see how we’re not that different. Studying China, in a lot of ways, is like trying to piece together a puzzle.

TSD: Do you have advice for students looking to pursue similar programs?

CG: I would say follow your interests to the fullest extent possible. I was passionate about China, so I jumped into that at Stanford so I could learn as much as possible in those areas. Teachers and other people start to offer suggestions when they see your passions. Be honest about what you’re interested in and pursue those passions to the greatest extent you can.

Jordan Shapiro

The Stanford Daily (TSD): What are some of your interests that led you to pursue becoming a Schwarzman Scholar?

Jordan Shapiro (JS): I have diverse interests, from biotechnology and entrepreneurship to languages, communication and theater. I’d studied abroad four times at Stanford: one summer in the Stanford Chinese Summer Language program, one [Bing Overseas Study Program] (BOSP) seminar in Madagascar, one BOSP quarter in Madrid and TA-ing a BOSP seminar in Tasmania. When I came back from my freshman summer studying Chinese intensively in Beijing, I continued studying Chinese at Stanford and decided to carry on with the language beyond the requirements of my minor. Just that quarter, the Schwarzman Scholars program was announced, and I knew then that I would one day be applying to the inaugural class.

TSD: Has the program lived up to what experiences you thought it might provide when it was announced?

JS: The program has certainly delivered. Not only am I be able to enhance my linguistic and cultural understanding, but I’m also able to study bioengineering, innovation, leadership, business and international affairs in a global context. Doing so with a group of the world’s best students and professors is simultaneously humbling and enthralling.

TSD: How has Stanford shaped your passions?

JS: Stanford has always supported me in pursuing my passions and combining my interests. I remember times when professors and administrators helped me navigate my complicated schedule to fit Chinese or time abroad into my engineering course load. Or long walks with mentors discussing the best ways I could make an impact and merge my studies with my career path. Or the BOSP program, who (along with Professor Bob Siegel) let me miss a day of my TA-ship in Tasmania to deliver the convocation student address to the Class of 2018. Those experiences were definitely unparalleled in shaping who I am today.

TSD: What are your career goals and aspirations following your time in Beijing with Schwarzman Scholars?

JS: I hope to pursue international applications of technology, with a focus on biology, that can enhance the ways humans live our lives. While I have yet to settle on where I will be in the fall, I expect to be immersed in technology, innovation and international collaboration.

TSD: What intrigues you about biotech so much?

JS: Recent advances in biotechnology give humanity more potential than ever to change the world around us. Our understanding of biology and our ability to make use of biological processes is progressing exponentially. Biotechnology and bioengineering also necessitate an interdisciplinary understanding of the world. To be successful, you have to keep learning, whether about biology, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science. The diversity required by the field makes biotechnology challenging, but also really engaging.

TSD: Do you have advice for students looking to pursue similar programs?

JS: For students looking to pursue similar scholarships and in general, I’d say take advantage of every day at Stanford, as the resources around you are incomparable. Spend your time carefully, doing the things that you really love, rather than things you think you need to be doing for a job or scholarship. Build your own path in pursuing your interests.

Cultivate a global mindset, thinking beyond the Stanford bubble. Go abroad and invest in your understanding of international affairs in your field. Get in touch with others who have done those programs, myself included, and the ORC at Stanford as early as possible to get advice and make sure you can make international scholarships work for you.

Contact Arielle Rodriguez at arielle3 ‘at’ and Susannah Meyer  at smeyer7 ‘at’

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