Baylor International Studies Graduate Named to Schwarzman Scholars Class of 2021
Prestigious graduate fellowship, inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, will allow Zane Zovak, B.A. ’18, to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China
Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia
WACO, Texas (Dec. 4, 2019) – Baylor University graduate Zane Zovak, B.A. ’18, has been named to the 2021 Class of Schwarzman Scholars, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships located at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship and is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. The vision of Schwarzman Scholars is to bring together the world’s best young minds to explore and understand the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to China’s increasing importance as a global power, so that throughout their careers, they can deepen understanding between China and rest of the world across many different professional fields.
This year, Zovak is one of 145 Schwarzman Scholars who were selected from more than 4,700 applicants and include students from 41 countries and 108 universities. The Class of 2021 will enroll in August 2020.
“It still felt like a pipe dream until I received the official offer, which is really a testament to the many Baylor professors and mentors who helped me with not only the application but also in arranging a mock interview before I traveled to New York City as a finalist,” Zovak said. “I certainly wouldn’t have had this opportunity without them.”
Along with Zovak, the Schwarzman Scholars Class of 2021 comprises a remarkable group of individuals whose talents are as diverse as they are inspirational: a Scholar from Chile who led the launch of the country’s first commercial satellite to prevent wildfires; two new Schwarzman Scholars who hold patents, including one for a process to detect diseases like Alzheimer’s via retinal imaging; an NCAA Division I athlete; a five-time Carnegie Hall pianist; a machinist and welder who built shelters for over 26,000 earthquake victims in Nepal; one of BBC’s Most Inspiring Women of the Year; and the CEO of a company from Syria that provides 3D-printed prosthetics to refugees.
Passion for international affairs
Growing up in Australia and China, Zovak always has had a passion for international affairs, and at Baylor, he majored in international studies and minored in Chinese and political science with the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) program in the Honors College. His extracurricular interests spanned from Baylor’s Model United Nations team, where he won both team and individual awards at the national conference in New York City, to vice president of the Baylor Club Triathlon team to being a member of the Dream Team that trains with Baylor’s national champion women’s basketball team.
After graduation, he served as a Fellow at the John Jay Institute and now works in Washington, D.C., to gain additional foreign policy and national security experience. With help from various Baylor professors, Zovak compiled a list of programs, scholarships and postgraduate degrees that might be able to deepen his understanding of China as well as further his Chinese.
“Schwarzman checked these boxes, and I also heard great things about it from alumni of the scholarship, so it was certainly something I was excited to apply for,” Zovak said. “The online campus walkthrough looked amazing, and the emphasis on building future leaders really stuck out to me as more than just a master’s program. In addition to classes and guest lectures, the program pairs you with mentors, facilitates a weeklong apprenticeship trip and assists with internship placement while you are in Beijing to ensure you get the most out of the experience and are ready to hit the ground running once you return.”
The Scholars were selected through a rigorous and thorough application process designed to identify academic ability, as well as leadership potential and strength of character. More than 400 candidates were invited to interview in Beijing, London, New York or Bangkok, where they went before panels of CEOs, government officials, university presidents, journalists and non-profit executives, among others.
Once admitted, Schwarzman Scholars pursue a master’s degree in global affairs, studying and residing at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University. The core curriculum, which is focused on three pillars of China, global affairs and leadership, was designed by talented academics from some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford and Tsinghua. Scholars are taught by leading international faculty, with frequent guest lectures from prominent global thought leaders.
Faculty mentorship continues past graduation
Zovak counts a number of Baylor faculty and staff who were valuable resources while he was a student as well as many others who act as mentors as he navigates the postgraduate world. They include Carrolle Kamperman, associate dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Steven Jug, Ph.D., who teaches World Cultures in the BIC, as well as Slavic studies, history and Russian; Holly Shi, senior lecturer of Chinese; Daniel A. Barish, Ph.D., assistant professor of global history; Elizabeth Vardaman and Kristen Escobar, Ph.D., in the Office of Engaged Learning, who also served as Zovak’s Ampersand organizers; Rebecca J. Flavin, Ph.D., senior lecturer of political science and Model UN adviser; and Richard Jordan, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science.
“Dr. Jordan’s classes of Fundamentals of International Politics and Grand Strategy were my most memorable while at Baylor as I still draw in the readings and authors in my work now. He has also been a great mentor and someone I can always look up in a field I’m interested in,” Zovak said. “I’m very blessed to have been taught by these various Baylor professors and a large part of the reason why I enjoyed Baylor so much.”
“Zane will be a strong asset to the Schwarzman program,” Jordan said. “He is a man of strong faith. His intellectual gifts, professionalism, gentlemanly attitude and exceptional discipline will set him apart as a natural leader.”
“Students like Zane are rare,” Flavin said. “Zane masterfully weaves together his commitments to faith, academics, athletics and enhancing intercultural understanding and excels in all these areas. His academic achievements alone make him deserving of accolades, but it is his work ethic and servant leadership that sets him apart from the crowd. Zane makes any team is part of better with his selflessness, humility, patience and grace.”
For more information about Schwarzman Scholars, visit www.schwarzmanscholars.org.
For students interested in national and international merit awards:
While the Baylor classroom serves as the cornerstone of academic excellence and a rich undergraduate experience, Baylor undergraduates also are supported by the SPARK (Scholarship Programs, Awards, Research, Knowledge) program, housed within the Engaged Learning Office in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. SPARK faculty and partners mentor students as they pursue national merit awards – such as the Fulbright, Truman, Gates Cambridge, Boren, Goldwater and many others – that will enrich their education. For more information about national and international scholarship opportunities through Baylor, visit www.baylor.edu/SPARK.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT SCHWARZMAN SCHOLARS
Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship and is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. The vision of Schwarzman Scholars is to bring together the world’s best young minds to explore and understand the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to China’s increasing importance as a global power, so that throughout their careers can deepen understanding between China and rest of the world across many different professional fields. Blackstone Chairman, CEO and Co- Founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman, has personally contributed over $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $500 million from others to endow the program in perpetuity. Schwarzman Scholars has already raised $583 million towards this $600 million goal. The endowment will support up to 200 Scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world in earning a one-year Master’s degree in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program have demonstrated exemplary leadership qualities and the potential to bridge and understand cultural and political differences. Learn more at www.schwarzmanscholars.org, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchwarzmanScholars, follow us on Instagram at @SchwarzmanScholars and follow us on Twitter at @SchwarzmanOrg.