Published: Dec. 6, 2021
Jessica Yan

CU Boulder alumna Jessica Yan today was named as a Schwarzman Scholar. She will begin a one-year master’s program in global affairs at Beijing’s Tsinghua University next year.

The highly selective Schwarzman Scholarship is modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship. Instead of studying at the University of Oxford, however, students spend a year immersed in Chinese culture.

Yan was chosen as one of approximately 150 scholars out of 3,000 applicants.

“The opportunity to be in Beijing for an entire year to learn more about the ways in which China and the rest of the world interact feels surreal,” said Yan. “The U.S.-China relationship will be one of the most important bilateral relationships in the next century.”

Yan said she originally missed the call, thinking the unknown number was spam. However, she picked up when the Schwarzman representatives tried again several minutes later.

“I started bawling and then I called my family and they started bawling, too,” she said. “It was an incredible moment.”

A native of Westminster, Colorado, Yan graduated Standley Lake High School in 2015 and came to CU Boulder as a Norlin Scholar and Leeds Scholar.

“Being a part of the Norlin Scholars program and the Leeds Scholars program gave me unique opportunities for reflection and leadership that led me to where I am now,” Yan said.

She graduated from CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business as an outstanding graduate in 2019 with a degree in business administration, an emphasis in information analytics and leadership, and a minor in biochemistry. 

Yan developed robust volunteer and leadership experience at CU Boulder. She led the university’s Distinguished Speakers Board as an undergraduate, organizing major events featuring Brené Brown, Anderson Cooper, Viola Davis and Captain Scott Kelly.

Outside of Boulder, Yan completed an internship with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office in 2019, helping to develop health-related communications strategies. She served as a volunteer research assistant at the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities.

Yan was also a Fulbright grant finalist in 2019. 

She is currently working for Redstone, a social sector consulting firm, advising philanthropies on racial justice and health equity strategies. She spearheaded Redstone’s diversity, equity and inclusion ongoing learning work.

“I hope to continue doing equity-centered work after the Schwarzman Scholarship program,” said Yan. “I am very excited to meet other incredible scholars and learn new approaches to advance more equitable health outcomes around the world.”

Yan is CU Boulder’s second Schwarzman Scholar, a well-deserved distinction, said CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore. 

“Jessica showed herself to be an exemplary student and a natural leader here at CU Boulder,” Moore said. “Our university community is honored by her incredible achievement, and excited to see what possibilities she will realize as a Schwarzman Scholar.”

The Schwarzman Scholarship was founded in 2015 and now boasts more than 700 alumni, according to the program’s news release Monday.

“The world needs Schwarzman Scholars now more than ever before,” Steven A. Schwarzman, founding trustee of the Schwarzman Scholarship, said in the release. “We are confident that these extraordinary young people will seize this global opportunity to act with intellect and integrity, address pressing global issues, deepen cross-cultural connections, and fulfill the mission of Schwarzman Scholars: to create a steadfast network of future global leaders.”

CU Boulder students are encouraged to email Office of Top Scholarships Director Deborah Viles to explore scholarship opportunities.