Savitri Restrepo Alvarez '16 Chosen As A Member Of The Inaugural Schwarzman Scholars Class

January 12, 2016
Savitri Restrepo Alvarez ’16 Has Been Named A Schwarzman Scholar

Savitri Restrepo Alvarez ‘16 has been named a member of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars, a highly-selective program founded by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group. The inaugural Schwarzman Scholars class comprises 111 students selected from more than 3,000 applicants; the 3.7 percent acceptance rate makes the program one of the most selective in the world.

“The Schwarzman is a visionary fellowship that recognizes the importance of China in addressing global challenges in the 21st century,” said Elizabeth Mandeville, director of fellowship programs for the Center for Work and Service. “In particular, it recognizes and invests in individuals of enormous promise as change-makers, enabling a nuanced and intimate knowledge of China and developing a strong network of young leaders who will collaborate together on the international stage for decades to come.”

The Scholars will take classes and live at the newly constructed Schwarzman College on the Tsinghua University campus in Beijing, all expenses paid. The program is modeled on the Rhodes scholarship, but Schwarzman told the New York Times that his is “global with a bit of a U.S. twist.”

Restrepo Alvarez, who is majoring in international relations-political science with a minor in Chinese Language and Literature, is a native of Colombia, a graduate of the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, and a 2016 Albright Fellow. She will pursue a master’s degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in Public Policy while at Tsinghua.

“Throughout my four years at Wellesley, I have come to understand that a deeper understanding of China’s role in global issues is crucial to foster cooperation globally,” said Restrepo Alvarez. “An essential focus of my career has been the important role that Colombia plays as a strategic nexus between Asia, the United States and the rest of Latin America. After completing my studies in China, I will be equipped with the necessary skills to become a bridge strengthening relations between these three regions.”

Restrepo Alvarez thanked her advisor Christopher Candland, associate professor of political science, Mingwei Song, associate professor of Chinese, and Mandeville for helping and encouraging her throughout the application process. She also noted several projects, internships and experiences "which have prepared [her] to immerse [herself] in an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society.”

Restrepo Alvarez said, “My work with NGOs such as the Clinton Foundation and Social Accountability International has provided me with hands-on experience of how to manage and operate programs around the world with a significant impact on a wide range of issue areas, including economic development, climate change, labor rights, and the empowerment of women and girls.” She aspires to work as an international human rights lawyer.

Schwarzman Scholars will spend a year immersed in an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society. They will learn from one another and pursue their academic disciplines while building their leadership capacities.

In a press release, Schwarzman said that the caliber of this first class is truly exceptional. “Each Scholar has demonstrated tremendous leadership potential at a young age and differentiated themselves through a myriad of academic and non-academic pursuits," he said. "It is my intention that the Schwarzman Scholars will return home and provide leadership in a changing, complex and dynamic world. I have every confidence that this class will be such leaders.”

Mandeville referred to Restrepo Alvarez as “an open-minded, clever and insightful thinker with a track record of making a difference,” adding, “she will carry the Wellesley Effect into her year as a Schwarzman Scholar, bringing her knowledge, advocacy and dynamic ideas to that community now and for years to come.”

Mandeville said, “That a Wellesley woman is among the first Schwarzman Scholars speaks to the college's long history of recognizing and supporting women who will make a difference in the world.” She added that she hopes Restrepo Alvarez will be the first of many Schwarzman Scholars from Wellesley.