Trinity College graduate becomes first Irish recipient of Schwarzman Scholarship

BESS graduate Lara Connaughton wins spot on masters programme in Tsinghua University, Beijing

NEWSLara Connaughton, a Business, Economics and Social Studies (BESS) graduate, has gained a place in the Schwarzman Scholarship programme, making her the first Irish applicant to do so since the programme was founded in 2013. Lara specialised in Business and Economics in her final year, and graduated this year with a first class honours degree.

The Schwarzman Scholarship programme is designed to send an international selection of students to study for a one-year masters programme at Tsinghua University, Beijing. This year saw 2,747 applicants from 119 countries competing for 125 places.

Scholars are chosen based on criteria such as academic capability, leadership skills and perception of long-running trends. The adjudicators are selected from a worldwide pool that includes journalists, university presidents and former heads of state. These adjudicators form international panels that interview semi-finalists in major cities around the world. This year, 300 semi-finalists were invited for interviews in Beijing, Bangkok, London or New York.

Trinity Business School staff praised Lara’s success. BESS course director Dr Michael Wycherly commented that Schwarzman Scholars provides an effective opportunity for students to develop leadership skills, and wished Lara “every success for the future.” Dean of Trinity Business School, Professor Andrew Burke, noted Lara’s achievements which gained her recognition from the scholarship programme. These included her role as auditor of Dublin University Business and Economics Society (DUBES) at Trinity and chairing a session at the Trinity Global Business Forum in May 2016.

Professor Burke added that Lara’s appointment was an encouraging sign for female business students: “At a time when we need more female leaders in Global business and society, we can take great heart to see somebody of Lara’s international calibre getting stellar acknowledgement and development through the Schwarzman Scholarship programme.”

The Schwarzman Scholarship programme was founded by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group. It was launched in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 21 April 2013. The programme aims to foster ties between Tsinghua University and other institutions within China and around the world. Scholarship appointments are concentrated on specific nations, with roughly 45% of scholars coming from the United States, 20% from China, and the remaining 35% from other states.