December 9, 2016

Three Cornellians Honored as Schwarzman Scholars

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Kevin Bassney ’13, Yamini Bhandari ’17 and Xinrong Lu ’16 were among the 129 students across the country named 2018 Schwarzman Scholars, the University announced Dec. 1.

The Schwarzman Scholars program allows students to develop leadership skills and professional networks by pursuing a one-year master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Students live and study on the Schwarzman College campus, where they can attain a degree in public policy, economics and businesses or international studies.

Bassney, who studied industrial and labor relations, is a Fulbright scholar who partnered with the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law in 2014 to conduct an independent study on how Serbian Organized Labor institutions work together to meet the European Union’s accession standards, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Bassney is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School and has served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army since 2013, according to the University. He hopes to pursue a career as a U.S. Foreign Service diplomat.

Bhandari, also an industrial and labor relations student Cornell’s undergraduate student-elected trustee, said she feels “incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity to participate in this program and learn from the other scholars.”

“I hope to learn from the other scholars from around the world with a diverse set of interests,” she said. “I am also excited about the opportunity to learn Chinese and engage with the world leaders that come to speak to the Schwarzman Scholars.”

After the program, Bhandari said she may use her interest in foreign policy and international labor issues to pursue a career at the World Bank or attain a senior ranking position in the State Department.

“[The Schwarzman Scholars program] will give me exposure to China, which is critical to understanding international affairs in the 21st century and will give me a network of other students interested in these issues,” she said.

Lu, an industrial and labor relations alumna who minored in Business and East Asian Studies, called her time at Cornell a “transformative experience” and a major factor in her decision to apply for the Schwarzman Scholarship.

“My ILR education has inspired me to put Chinese labor into a global context and helped me discover my passion for social impact and social justice,” she said. “I believe only a place as diverse as Cornell could have made this possible, and I am more than grateful for that.”

Lu added that she hopes to use the Schwarzman Scholars Program to reconnect to China as an adult and gain a fresh perspective on the country’s contemporary social issues.

“I was born and raised in Shenzhen, China and only left the country when I was 18, so China to me was never anything new or mysterious,” she explained. “However … it was during my time at Cornell when I really started to form my own view on many economic, political and social issues and discovered my passion for business and social impact.”

After the program, Lu said she aims to combine her experience in business and international development to work as a social entrepreneur. She is interested in exploring different ways to engage the private sector in education to help the low-income population.

“I want to explore ways of providing skill training to help migrant workers better cope with technology and the changing economy, as well as providing better primary education for their children so they could enjoy more opportunities in the future,” she said.

Last year, Juliana Batista ’16, Atticus DeProspo ’15 and Andrew Schoen ’12 were named among 2016’s Schwarzman Scholars.