A recent Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate has become only the second UT Dallas student — and the first from the Jindal School — accepted into the selective Schwarzman Scholars postgraduate program in Beijing. Carlos Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis, a global business and marketing double major who graduated in December, will join the Class of 2020 scholars in August at Tsinghua University on a fully funded scholarship.
Started in 2016, the Schwarzman Scholars program brings together students representing 119 universities and 38 countries to live and study together. Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis is one of 147 students selected for the next class. The program is designed to prepare the next generation of global leaders while building relationships between China and the world in the current geopolitical landscape.
“I’m excited to be in a community of individuals who are driven to make this world a safer place,” Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis said. “I want to immerse myself in the culture, take it all in and come out on the other side really transformed.”
While this will be Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis’s first time in Beijing, his interest in and desire to explore new places has been evident the last four years. He has studied abroad for a semester in Vienna and participated in the Archer Fellowship Program in Washington D.C., among other travels.
During his time in Vienna, he got involved with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and developed a profound interest in nuclear security and diplomacy, a path he plans to pursue professionally after his year in Beijing.
“It was energizing in Vienna to see that people could come together over such a divisive topic,” Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis said. “Seeing their passion encouraged me to try to push the needle on this. I want to be a bridge builder and help bring others to the table.”
He continued to deepen his desire to pursue public service through internships at the United Nations Information Center and the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs in D.C. Meanwhile, his contributions on campus have been just as significant.
“From his freshman year orientation, he was already outspoken and trying to meet people,” said Hubert Zydorek, director of the BS in Global Business program. “He continued to be a strong voice in the classroom motivating other students.”
In addition to academic success, the Schwarzman Scholars admissions team and interviewers —- comprised of professionals in politics, science, business and journalism — evaluated applicants for leadership potential, character, interest and knowledge in emerging global trends and a desire to understand other cultures.
When talking about why he thinks he stood out to the evaluators during his interview in New York, Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis attributes success to just trying to have fun and be himself. Zydorek, one of his recommenders for the program, takes it further.
“Not many students are engaged in the world at the level Carlos is. He is not a typical student,” Zydorek said. “His networking abilities are amazing. You can give him one opportunity, and he is able to take it to the next level; and I think this is and will be a key element to his success.”
Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis is grateful for professors like Zydorek and others who shaped his college experience and supported his global interests.
“The professors at UT Dallas take the time, have their doors open and are willing to have conversations about broader topics in global affairs that I wouldn’t get elsewhere.”
Rodriguez-Cruz y Celis graduated with major honors from the Jindal School’s DMHP Program and the campus Collegium V Honors Program. He credits his achievements and personal growth to the community he found on campus.
“I’m from a small community in Puerto Rico, and the people in the UT Dallas community welcomed me with open arms and believed in me and gave me the opportunity to grow and explore my personal interests in a way that allowed me to find my path.”
— Caryn Berardi