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Fourth-year Commerce and Economics major Varun Sharma has been selected for the prestigious graduate Schwarzman Scholars fellowship.
Chosen for his academic ability, exemplary leadership qualities, and strength of character, Sharma will enroll in August 2019 at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing for a year of study, cultural immersion, and travel across China.
Selected from more than 2,800 applicants, Sharma will join two fellow Hoos, Campbell Haynes (Law '19) and politics honors major Ankita Satpathy (A&S '19), to form the postgraduate program’s fourth class with 144 other Schwarzman Scholars from 38 countries and 119 universities. Sharma, a Jefferson Scholar and senior counselor for the University Judiciary Committee, will earn a master’s degree in Global Affairs through the fully funded scholarship. Designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century and make them ready to serve as effective links between China and the rest of the world, Sharma is excited to embark on the unique program.
“I first became interested in China after a Model UN conference in high school. Fascinated by the nation’s long history of innovation and exploration, as well as its recent emergence onto the world stage, I was hooked,” he says. “I spent some time at The University of Chicago taking Mandarin classes after my junior year, and I have continued studying Mandarin here at UVA. Two summers ago, when I lived in China as part of the UVA-in-Shanghai Intensive Chinese Language Program, I discovered an infectious energy and optimism that convinced me I needed to return.”
Sharma, who comes from a family with a strong UVA history, will likely thrive in his postgraduate studies from his rich experiences, which include internships at the U.S. Department of Justice and Ernst & Young. In addition, as co-founder of HooThinks, an organization that provides strategic and operational consulting services to student groups, Sharma’s leadership skills should prove to be an invaluable asset to the 2020 cohort, but the 21-year-old is looking forward to further developing his abilities.
“The Schwarzman Scholars program is an incredible opportunity to help realize that vision and learn from young leaders all across the globe,” Sharma says. “I am incredibly blessed to have the chance to build a broader worldview from Beijing, and I am excited to see how a year abroad helps me grow personally and professionally.”