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Three from MIT awarded Schwarzman Fellowships

Two MIT students and an alumna claimed three of the just 111 Schwarzman Fellowships awarded in the program’s inaugural class. The new scholarship’s selection process is extremely competitive: 3,000 student applied.

Annabeth Gellman ’13, Alex Springer ’16, and Kelsey Jamieson ’16 each received a scholarship.

Recipients are chosen based on academic achievement, character, and leadership potential.

Billionaire Stephen Schwarzman founded the scholarship with a $450 million endowment. He told the New York Times he modeled the fellowship after the Rhodes Scholarship.

The scholarship will fully fund each student’s master’s degree at Tsinghua University in China. The fellows will live together in the newly built Schwarzman College.

To narrow down the application pool, the scholarship requires students to complete lengthy applications in which they propose practical solutions to pressing global problems. Each of the 300 applicants who make it through the initial screening are invited to in-person interviews in New York, London, Beijing, or Bangkok.

The interview includes a team competition component in which applicants work together to build Lego towers as well as time for individual scrutiny.

Gellman said she had little interest in fellowships until very recently. When she was a senior at MIT, she was eager to go straight into the workforce.

Eventually, she decided that the application would provide a valuable opportunity for self-reflection. She said her interview was “most intimidating” with the president of Iceland and Schwarzman himself sitting in.

After she finishes the program, Gellman plans to work in the information technology sector. Springer plans to produce technologies to advance the developing world. Jamieson will work on solving the energy crisis and advocate for the environment.

—Scott Perry