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WVU graduate awarded international scholarship to study in China

Colin Lopez feature

Colin Lopez.

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Colin Lopez has been selected as West Virginia University’s first Schwarzman Scholar and one of only 142 students worldwide chosen to study at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s premiere institutions.

The Schwarzman Scholars program was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship hosted by Oxford University, but with the goal of confronting the difficult challenges of the 21st century. The students will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures and traveling widely to develop a deep understanding of China, from the language, people and culture to the political and economic realities of the country.

Lopez, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, competed against more than 4,000 candidates from around the world for this highly selective program. Students selected for the one-year master’s degree come from 39 countries and 97 universities, with 41 percent from the United States, 20 percent from China and 39 percent from the rest of the world.

“I am honored to receive this award and I am grateful to the staff of the ASPIRE office for helping me with the application and preparing me for the interview,” Lopez said.

He is currently on a Fulbright Scholarship in Amman, Jordan, working with the United Nations Refugee Agency to evaluate refugee healthcare access in the country. Lopez graduated in May with a degree in International Studies from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. As an undergraduate student, he was a member of the Honors College and studied in Jordan and Morocco on the Boren and Critical Language scholarships. His experience working on food and hunger issues in West Virginia spurred an interest in global health.

“Working with the Food Justice Lab in the WVU Geography Department truly made the difference in preparing me for the Schwarzman program. It is where I first developed my research and policy analysis skills while researching food access in West Virginia,” Lopez said. “I applied these skills to my passion of increasing access to health care by working with WVHEALTHLINK, a project to map and gain insight into the various barriers that exist for health care in West Virginia.”

“This is quite an achievement for both Colin and the University," President Gordon Gee said. "He embodies our 'Go First' mentality, and his involvement in this program is one more way West Virginia University displays to the world the quality of its students and its education. And while he may be the first, I am confident he will not be the last.”

During his year in China, Lopez will be immersed in an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society. The students live and study together at Schwarzman College, the dedicated state-of-the-art academic and residential building built especially for the program.

“I look forward to learning more about global health from leaders in the field from around the world and I’m very excited to learn more about Chinese language and culture,” Lopez said

Provost Joyce McConnell echoed Lopez’s excitement, on his behalf and on behalf of WVU. “We are so proud to have been part of Colin’s journey,” she said, “Like so many of our students and alumni, Colin is committed to making our world a better place, not just now but for the future. We look forward to being part of whatever he does next.” 

Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder of the private equity firm The Blackstone Group, created the Schwarzman Scholarship. He contributed more than $100 million to create the prestigious program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $500 million to endow the program in perpetuity. The scholars were chosen through a rigorous process designed to evaluate leadership experience and potential intellectual and academic ability. Lopez will be a member of the third class of scholars.

Students interested in applying for the Schwarzman Scholarship or other nationally competitive awards can contact the WVU ASPIRE Office at to set up an appointment. Read more about this years Schwarzman scholars



CONTACT: Amy Cyphert, WVU ASPIRE 304.293.4836 

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