Schwarzman Scholar Lydia Haile ’22 Embraces Opportunity to Live and Learn Abroad

Lydia Haile '22 at Commencement

New environments have always fascinated Lydia Haile ’22, a native Coloradan and first-generation college student whose curiosity led her to Pomona College and now is taking her across the globe.

In August, Haile will embark on a transformative journey as a Schwarzman Scholar, pursuing a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University in Beijing.

At Tsinghua in the capital city of China, the 24-year-old will attend lectures, traverse the region and develop a deeper understanding of the world’s second-most populous country.

“I’ve always been interested in living abroad and seeking new opportunities,” Haile says. “I’m excited to immerse myself in an environment I would not find myself in otherwise, and I’m at a stage in life where I can just pack up and move, simply for the sake of learning.”

The one-year, fully-funded Schwarzman Scholars program is designed to build a global community of leaders and is one of the world’s most prestigious and selective graduate fellowships. Haile, a neuroscience major, was one of 150 Scholars chosen from a global applicant pool of 4,200.

Like previous Schwarzman Scholars from Pomona College, Haile’s interest in China stems from professional curiosity. During her undergraduate studies, Haile sought to understand how people operate and interact, particularly in relation to health disparities among various demographics.

“Haile’s interest in medicine, with a specific focus on global health, made her a perfect fit for the Schwarzman Scholarship,” says Nicole Y. Weekes, Harry S. and L. Madge Rice Thatcher Professor of Psychological Science and Professor of Neuroscience.

“Lydia comes from an international background, and she sees the world from this interconnected and global perspective,” Weekes adds. “There is no question in my mind that her time as a Schwarzman Scholar will serve her interests beautifully.”

Since graduating Pomona, Haile has worked full-time as an operations specialist at the Obesity Medicine Association, supporting organizational efficiency and aiding in the delivery of resources to healthcare providers. On weekends, she also serves as a newborn hearing screening technician, educating parents on the significance of early interventions.

In her spare time, Haile is deeply involved with Global Medical Relief for Tigray (GMRT), a nonprofit she helped establish to address urgent healthcare needs in Tigray, Ethiopia's northernmost state. Collaborating with a team of volunteers across North America, Haile works to deliver essential biomedical equipment and medical supplies to vulnerable communities throughout the region.

In partnership with Project C.U.R.E., GMRT’s largest initiative successfully raised tens of thousands of dollars to send a 40-foot container of life-saving medical supplies to a major hospital system that collapsed nearly four years ago in the wake of conflict.

Being of Tigrayan descent herself, Haile views her involvement with GMRT as an opportunity “to utilize my skills to enact long-lasting change.”

As a Schwarzman Scholar, Haile hopes to leverage her diverse knowledge base in global affairs, medicine, technology and language to pioneer interdisciplinary solutions aimed at tackling the challenges of today while preventing those of tomorrow.

“This opportunity is invaluable,” she says, “There’s so much I have yet to experience, and by gaining a broader perspective, I simply can’t lose.”