Undergraduate Academic Affairs

December 4, 2019

UW alumna Crysti (Zinan) Chen named Schwarzman Scholar

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

University of Washington alumna Crysti (Zinan) Chen, (’15, B.A. in political science) received the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship. Selected from more than 4,700 applicants, Chen will join 145 Schwarzman Scholars from around the world to make up the program’s fifth cohort. A competitive program, the incoming class was selected through a rigorous application process designed to identify academic ability, as well as leadership potential and strength of character. The program takes place at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where the scholars will immerse themselves in Chinese culture, business and language. At the end of the cross-cultural, year-long program, scholars will have developed an in-depth understanding of China and earned a master’s degree in global affairs.

Crysti Chen

Schwarzman Scholar Crysti Chen.


The core curriculum is focused on three pillars: China, global affairs and leadership. Scholars also have the opportunity to take elective courses from a variety of disciplines at Schwarzman College, as well as from other departments at Tsinghua University. Scholars are taught by a cadre of leading international faculty, with frequent guest lectures from prominent global thought leaders.

Beyond the classroom, Scholars gain exceptional exposure to China and access to important relationships through internships, mentors, high-profile speakers and opportunities to travel throughout China. Scholars are also provided with a range of career development resources to help them to make the most of their time in Beijing and position them for success upon graduation. This unique combination of coursework, cultural immersion and personal and professional development opportunities equip students with a first-hand and well-rounded understanding of China’s changing role in the world, critically important to leadership in any field in the 21st Century.

About Crysti (Zinan) Chen

Chen will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020 with an M.S.Ed. degree in education entrepreneurship. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in political science, with a political economy focus, and minored in international studies from the University of Washington. Chen founded her first nonprofit organization in 2009. She dedicated a decade in promoting education quality, gender equality, and environmental awareness in underprivileged villages in China, Vietnam and Kenya. In 2017, Chen co-founded UniWill Ventures in Silicon Valley. She currently serves as the general partner and leads impact investing into early-stage tech startups. As a Schwarzman Scholar, Chen hopes to explore more effective methods to leverage investment capital with goodwill to create bigger impact on urgent social and environmental issues.

About the Schwarzman Scholars Program

Designed to inspire the next generation of global leaders, Schwarzman Scholars is the most significant program of its kind since the Rhodes Trust was founded in 1902. The Schwarzman Scholars Program is in its fourth year as a new institution at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program’s focus is global leadership and draws students from China, the U.S. and the rest of the world. Over the course of the year, students will spend a quarter immersed in language: Mandarin for non-Chinese students; English for Chinese students. They’ll complete an intensive field study, where they will spend a week in communities throughout China, working with mentors from NGOs, academics and government; receive mentorship from prominent Chinese leaders; attend talks from high-profile speakers; and complete a practical training project, where they take on consulting-style projects. Scholars also have access to career services support to help them make the best of their time in Beijing, and receive ongoing support in the form of alumni events. The Schwarzman Scholars program is dedicated to building a strong alumni network, so that their students can continue to learn from and support one another. Last year, Henry Chan became the UW’s first Schwarzman Scholar.

The Schwarzman Scholarship application process is supported by the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards (OMSFA), a UAA program. OMSFA works with faculty, staff and students to identify and support promising students in developing the skills and personal insights necessary to become strong candidates for this and other prestigious awards.