Han, a senior majoring in biostatistics and mathematics, and Seunik, who graduated in May with a degree in health policy and management, are recipients of the Schwarzman scholarship — a new program paid for by Stephen A. Schwarzman, a Yale graduate and co-founder of investment firm Blackstone.
Mary Floyd-Wilson, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said Han and Seunik exemplify what UNC has to offer.
“I think this is a huge honor,” she said. “I think it speaks to how accomplished our students are, how hardworking they are, how innovative they are. Both Max and Larry are really pushing forward their fields of study.”
Han and Seunik are two of 111 students from around the world who will spend a year in China completing a master’s program in economics and management, public policy or international studies. The students will study at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Seunik plans to enroll in the public policy program and Han is considering economics or public policy.
Han said he is excited for the opportunity to study abroad again — an experience he previously enjoyed when he studied in Singapore.
“I’ve always, as a young kid, wanted to study at an Asian institute of higher learning,” Han said. “That’s what I’m most excited about, is having the opportunity to really dive deeply as a full-time student in China.”
After completing his master’s degree in China, Han hopes to continue his education and research.
“I’m also trying to explore what some people might call hospital management — the reconstruction and reorganization of health care facilities,” he said.
Schwarzman scholarship applicants must complete essays on a variety of topics, submit a thirty-second video and appear before a panel of interviewers including prominent figures such as Jared Cohen of Google Ideas and former U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus.
For Seunik, the application process was exceptionally rigorous. Seunik works for Innovations for Poverty Action, a nonprofit organization that looks at local government accountability. Seunik currently works in Uganda and only found out about the scholarship three weeks before the deadline.
“I just got so wrapped up in work I wasn’t thinking about things to come in the future,” Seunik said. This did not stop him from completing the essays, submitting his video and traveling to London for his interview — all while working 12-hour days with limited access to internet connection and electricity.
Seunik said he is most excited to learn how China influences Africa’s development and how this influence compares with Western influence.
“My focus of my application was looking at how China affects Africa’s trajectory,” he said.
He said the entire process, although intense, was enjoyable and well run, and he’s most excited to spend time with the other Schwarzman scholars.