Selected from nearly 3,000 applicants, Solomon Olshin ’23 and Qingjie (Bob) Zeng ’18 will join the 2023-24 cohort of Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University in Beijing next August.
Schwarzman Scholars pursue a master’s degree in global affairs in the fully-funded program designed to build a global community of leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world. The program, which will host 151 students in its eighth cohort, is considered one of the most highly selective graduate fellowships in the world.
Through the scholarship, Olshin, a double major in science, technology & society and international relations, hopes to develop diplomatic and professional ties, immerse himself in new perspectives, and deepen his connection to China as he pursues a career supporting global renewable energy, sustainable water and regenerative agricultural innovation.
“Being in China studying global affairs with professors from across China and the world will help me develop a more truly global perspective,” says Olshin.
Olshin is the founder and CEO of Shine Technologies, a public-benefit startup that manufactures solar equipment for people transitioning from homelessness. He also co-founded and co-directs Global Youth Entrepreneurs, a former Soviet Union and Middle East-focused diplomatic exchange and entrepreneurship nonprofit. He has worked in the U.S. and Israel as a sustainability consultant intern during his time at Pomona.
Olshin’s interest in China was sparked when an international student from Fuzhou, China, in his first-year sponsor group stayed with his family in Portland, Oregon, for a semester during the COVID-19 pandemic. His friend taught him Chinese while Olshin taught him some Hebrew. They had philosophical conversations, worked together on Olshin’s startup and cooked foods from their cultures together.
“A big part of what I was looking forward to getting out of Pomona was a deep engagement with people who come from backgrounds all over the world, from different socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds,” says Olshin.
After his year in Beijing, Olshin sees himself “starting multiple social impact and environmental impact-oriented companies in the next ten years,” he says. “I love building things and equipping people with the tools they need to meet their needs and achieve their goals.”
Olshin is particularly excited about bringing together innovations, investors, manufacturers and communities in Israel, the Gulf States, China and Latin America to address human and environmental needs. Along the way, he aspires to connect and build understanding with people from across the world.
Qingjie (Bob) Zeng
Zeng came to Pomona from China and majored in international relations. As an undergraduate, he interned at the U.N. in Panama, volunteered in El Salvador and studied abroad in Argentina.
Zeng is especially proud of his participation in Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations during his time at Pomona. He attended the language tables every day and won the perfect attendance award one year. With a passion for learning new languages, he currently speaks six—Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Spanish, French and Portuguese—and is excited to learn more. “I appreciate acquiring a new perspective when I’m using a different language,” he says.
After graduating from Pomona, Zeng joined Jeenie, a mobile app that connects people to live interpreters. Next, through the Princeton in Latin America fellowship, he moved to Mexico City to work at Endeavor, an international NGO that helps accelerate high impact entrepreneurship worldwide. He then joined the Mexico-China Center in Hangzhou, China, where he led a cross-border platform promoting talent exchange, startup acceleration and international trade.
Zeng is currently pursuing a master in management at HEC Paris and works in strategy consulting for international development.
As a Schwarzman Scholar, Zeng looks forward to reconnecting with his roots after living abroad for 11 years. “[China] is a place that gives me hope in terms of how optimistic people are, how we embrace technology and innovation. People are very ambitious,” he says. “This is something that I would like to appreciate and learn about through the program.”
Zeng sees “a huge gap” between China and Latin America and says it is where he can contribute meaningfully.
“There are still lots of misconceptions,” he says, sharing that one of his favorite phrases is, “Está en chino” (it’s in Chinese) in Spanish or “C’est du chinois” in French to describe “something completely unintelligible.” “There’s so much bridgebuilding to be done,” he says.
Rya Jetha ’23 was also selected but declined the award.