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Durham University

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Durham student to join Schwarzman Scholars global leaders program

(18 February 2016)

A Durham University student has been selected to join the inaugural class of one of the most selective scholarship programmes in the world: Schwarzman Scholars. 

Tara Subba, who is Indonesian-English-Nepalese, is an undergraduate at St Mary’s College studying Politics and Philosophy. She becomes the youngest of 111 extraordinary students aged 18-28 selected from a pool of more than 3,000 applicants from over 135 countries. 

CEO and founder of Blackstone, Stephen Schwarzman, founded the Schwarzman Scholars program “in order to give the most talented future leaders the power to change the course of history”. The innovative Master’s degree in International Relations, Public Policy and Management has been created in collaboration with leading academic universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, and Tsinghua in Beijing. It is designed to provide scholars with unparalleled learning opportunities and prepare them for the challenges of the future. Whether in politics, business or science, the success of future leaders around the world depends largely upon an understanding of China's role in global trends. In light of this, the inaugural class of Scholars will be based in Beijing to study in the country’s leading institution, Tsinghua University. 

Commenting on the interview process during which she was questioned by a panel that included the President of Iceland, the ex-Chairman of Morgan Stanley International and the Executive Director of Blackstone Charitable Foundation amongst leading academics, she states, “It was a privilege just to be in the same room as them. I kept myself together by remembering that they were just as interested to get to know me and my passions as much as I was excited by their presence. At least that’s what I hoped!” 

Intellectual engagement 

Tara goes on to say that she looks forward to immersing herself in an environment in which she will be intellectually engaged, and where she could develop through travelling opportunities, internships and networking schemes involving the Chinese government, multilateral international agencies and global mentors. “It is surreal to think that I will be working alongside inspirational figures of our time ranging from Henry Kissinger and Condoleeza Rice to Sir James Wolfensohn and Yo-Yo Ma. I think that this list reflects how interrelated the fields that govern our world really are.” Other advisors to Schwarzman Scholars include leading global figures such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Brian Mulroney and Tony Blair.

“Durham has nurtured my capacity for leadership across different areas.” During her time here, Tara has founded the St Mary’s College Freedom Society and is the college representative for Durham Amnesty International. She was also Captain of the Durham University Women’s Football Team III, a Swimmer in the University squad and Treasurer of St Mary’s College Football Club. “I am hugely grateful to Durham University for the incredible opportunities it provides. Above all, being a part of the Choral Society has helped shape my passions for the future. Growing up I felt a deep connection with classical music as I was a violinist in the Ho Chi Minh City National Orchestra, but our conductor Clare Wills is incredible and her enthusiasm has fostered my greater love for choral music and the performing arts in general. During my time in the Schwarzman program and beyond, I would love to work with Yo-Yo Ma as I truly believe that the performing arts can shape the global consciousness needed for sustainable development and a more peaceful 21st century. I’m excited to see how far I can push for its greater role in policy creation in both the national and international spheres. I am humbled by the fact that I will be amongst business leaders/innovators/politicians who have the experience and network that would help translate my vision into reality.”

Successful leadership

Tara’s involvement in promoting infrastructural reconstruction and initiating cross-border humanitarian relief efforts in Nepal has become a catalyst for sustainable development in emerging countries and in their integration into the global community. “I aspire to work in one of the agencies of the United Nations or the World Bank, and eventually in some ministerial capacity for the Government, as I truly believe that successful leadership is characterized by confidence and sensitivity towards differences. An understanding of different cultures and a global vision of the world is key in the creation of international policies that are more universal in their appeal, and by extension, in the pursuit of global peace and stability.” 

Truly exceptional scholars 

Commenting on the announcement, Stephen A. Schwarzman added: “The calibre of this first class of Schwarzman Scholars is truly exceptional. Each Scholar has demonstrated tremendous leadership potential at a young age and differentiated themselves through a myriad of academic and non-academic pursuits. It is my intention that the Schwarzman Scholars will return home and provide leadership in a changing, complex and dynamic world. I have every confidence that this class will be such leaders.”

The programme will start in August 2016.


Find out more about the Schwarzman Scholars program at