NSLS Member Mussab Ali | Photo By Mel Evans, Rutgers Today
By Cynthia Medina and Nora Luongo
A recent Rutgers graduate and two seniors were named today as the university’s first Schwarzman Scholars, a prestigious global program designed to help students develop their leadership skills while pursuing a master’s degree in global affairs at one of the top universities in China.
Rutgers University-New Brunswick senior Nick Pellitta, Haoyang Yu, a 2015 Rutgers-New Brunswick graduate, and Mussab Ali, a senior at Rutgers University-Newark, will spend a year studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The trio is already a standout group. In 2017, Ali became the youngest person ever elected to the Jersey City school board and is also a recipient of the elite Truman scholarship, awarded to students with exceptional leadership potential. Yu, who holds a degree in computer engineering from Rutgers, leads a team at Goldman Sachs as a senior analyst in derivatives processing engineering. Pellitta, who is majoring in both economics and political science, hopes to one day serve in public office and to improve the lives of people in New Jersey.
“It is really exciting to be a recipient of a Schwarzman scholarship and to be part of this growing network of international leaders,’’ Ali said. “I think too often people here focus on American ideas and struggle to understand what other people do. Considering how fast China has risen in the global economy, I am excited to look at the ways they are different from us and what we can learn from them.’’
Pellitta is looking forward to the experience for similar reasons.
“I think one of the most important parts of good governance is being able to understand the perspectives of people who come from very different backgrounds,’’ said Pellitta, a School of Arts and Sciences and Rutgers-New Brunswick Honors College student from Flemington. “Living in China for a year will be a great opportunity to learn about the political, economic, social and cultural life there, and I hope to use those lessons to shape my views on the world and the relationship that the United States will have with China in the future.’’
Ali, Pellitta and Yu are among 147 scholars selected from more than 2,800 applicants. The recipients come from 38 countries and 119 universities – with 40 percent originating from the United States, 20 percent from China and the remaining 40 percent from around the world.
The program, launched in 2016, was created by Blackstone Group Chairman and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman. It provides full scholarships to prepare the next generation of business, political and civil society leaders to create change in the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.
“We are extremely proud that three of our best and brightest students are the first-ever Rutgers recipients of the Schwarzman scholarship,” said Ben. Sifuentes-Jáuregui, vice chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs at Rutgers-New Brunswick. “Their success demonstrates how Rutgers is at the forefront of training the next generation of global leaders.’’
While studying in Beijing, the students will be able to select a concentration in public policy, economics and business, or international studies while learning from the country’s top business leaders. The program offers a year of cultural immersion, opportunities to travel throughout China, work with mentors and participate in leadership training.
Ali, who broke ground as the first Muslim to serve on the Jersey City school board and was recently re-elected to a second term, is looking to start a nonprofit organization to train young people to become more involved civically. He is hoping to use his experience as a Schwarzman Scholar to create more opportunities for youth in Jersey City. “I’m already thinking about ways I can leverage being on a school board and impacting Jersey City education with this international experience. Especially looking at the demographics of Jersey City, most of these kids have never had international experiences.”
Arthur D. Casciato, director for the Office of Distinguished Fellowships within the Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, worked with Ali and Pellitta and praised their skills.
“Right from the beginning, I recognized that these two extraordinarily talented and committed young men, both Jersey boys through and through, would make Rutgers and their home state very proud,” Casciato said.
Yu, who will be leaving Goldman Sachs for the scholarship opportunity, said it was a difficult decision, but his experience at Rutgers taught him that sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
“I want to become an entrepreneur and eventually move back to China, so I had to decide what was most important to me. I need leadership and networking platforms to continue to grow,” said Yu. “In five to 10 years, I hope to build my own company in financial technology. If I stayed here, I could grow step by step, but if I take this risk, I can reach my goals much faster.”
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