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Shin EharaShin Ehara is a Schwarzman Scholar!

The Schwarzman Scholars Program is a prestigious program that provides a fully-funded master's degree (one year) at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The program is "designed to build a global community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world" (Schwarzman Scholars Org).

Photo: Shin is standing outside the Schwarzman College residential building for Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University.

Major(s): Data science

College: Sixth

UC San Diego graduation year: 2021

How did you hear about the Schwarzman scholarship?I studied abroad for a semester as an exchange student at Peking University in Beijing in 2019. Peking University is right next to Tsinghua University, and I first heard about the Schwarzman Scholars back then.

What interested you in applying for it?Although I was a data science major at UCSD, I was always more interested in the social implementation of technology rather than the technology itself. Through interning/working at a venture capital firm and startups during college, I grew my interest in China’s innovation landscape, which is known for being globally competitive but quite different from the US’s model. As someone who aspires to make my home country Japan’s innovation economy more globally competitive, I thought understanding how China’s innovation system functions is a key to my career and that the Schwarzman Scholars, offering a wide range of courses regarding China, was an excellent opportunity to do so.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at Tsinghua University?I’m excited to get inspired a lot this year, by not only my classmates and professors but also high-profile guest speakers who are global leaders in varying disciplines. The program hosts a series of guest speaker sessions throughout the year, and it is a truly humbling and inspiring experience to learn directly from current leaders who tackle today’s most significant issues in the real world. Outside the classroom setting, I’m thrilled to immerse myself in China as much as possible. The program offers various opportunities to explore China’s government, economy, society, and culture in a real-world setting, in programming like Deep Dive, a one-week themed field trip to regions throughout China. I understand that living in China today as a foreigner is a great privilege, and I hope to make the most of this opportunity.

Are you currently studying at Tsinghua? What is the experience like?I arrived at the Tsinghua campus in mid-September after completing two weeks of quarantine mandated by the Chinese government, so I have been here only for a month. Our Schwarzman program takes place in a beautifully designed building where we have access to our own classrooms, dorm rooms, dining hall, library, gym, etc. Although the Schwarzman Scholars is a small community of around 150 students, I’m surrounded by a group of such talented and well-accomplished classmates. As the building houses the entire cohort under the same roof, it is effortless for us to get to know each other, share knowledge, and learn together. Especially in the dining hall, I every day sit with classmates (or faculties sometimes) and have intellectually stimulating conversations. Although students vary a lot in previous academic and professional experience, we share an interest in China as a strong commonality, which I believe is a distinctive trait of this community.

How was the application process?The application required two essays, three recommendation letters, and one video introduction alongside a resume and academic transcript. One of the two essays was called a Leadership Essay which asked me to demonstrate my unique abilities and potential as a leader. The other essay was a more straightforward statement of purpose. The application was due in late September. After the first round of application review, I was invited to an interview session in late October. I was interviewed by a panel of six interviewers who were all international leaders in their respective fields. After the interview, I was notified of my acceptance by late November.

What advice do you have for others interested in applying for this scholarship (or others)?Prepare early. The program publishes short bios of all the recent scholars on the website. You can quickly learn about their backgrounds, including undergraduate study, professional experience, leadership activity, interest in China, etc. From there, you can probably start thinking about how you could fit into this pool of highly-accomplished students as a potential scholarship recipient. If you have a few years before applying to the program, you should be able to strategically plan your activities to build your leadership profile that suits what the program is looking for.