Among 200 recipients awarded annually worldwide, three NSLI-Y alumni have been named as recipients of the Schwarzman Scholarship. The scholarship selects promising young people from around the world for a one-year master’s in global affairs at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.


Amina Shafeek-Horton, Chinese Summer, 2018

Amina Shafeek-Horton is an alumna of the 2018 Chinese Summer program in Nanjing, China. Amina will graduate this spring from the University of Southern California and the World Bachelor in Business program, a triple degree program allowing her to study in and complete degrees from three universities in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Milan. Amina has been aiming for the Schwarzman scholarship since beginning college and looks forward to returning to the region and preparing for a future career in international policy.

Amina’s interest in diplomacy has been evident in her participation in internships and extracurricular activities. She currently serves as an intern with the Council of Women World Leaders, an independent network of current and former women prime ministers and presidents, where she had the opportunity to travel to Iceland to attend the Reykjavik Global ​Forum. She has also interned at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she led an outreach event designed to introduce more people of color to careers in international affairs. Additionally, she completed two internships while in Hong Kong, with the American Chamber of Commerce and Pfizer.

Amina’s journey with Mandarin has been lifelong. She began learning Mandarin in kindergarten at an immersive elementary school and, after exhausting the coursework available, she applied for NSLI-Y. She refers to NSLI-Y as one of the happiest periods of her life that provided her with significant professional direction. Her NSLI-Y experience solidified her desire to work in China and her continued interest to learn about Chinese perspectives. She appreciated conversing with her host family and understanding their nuanced perspectives on current events. Interactions with locals remain some of her favorite memories of her NSLI-Y program, including getting to know the owners of a wonton shop under her host family’s apartment and playing volleyball with locals on the Nanjing University campus. She looks forward to making more person-to-person connections while in China and continuing to learn from Chinese citizens while sharing her own perspectives.

For those interested in applying for fellowships or scholarships like Schwarzman, she recommends applying for every opportunity that you think would be a good fit. She notes “If you see an opportunity that feels remotely aligned with your interest, go for it. Don’t limit yourself and take your name out of the running by not applying.” She also encourages reaching out to alumni of the programs that interest you. Amina is grateful for the support of Schwarzman alumni through the application process and encourages others to take advantage of alumni as resources for learning about programs, reviewing applications, etc. ​

Addie Mae

Addie Mae Villas, Arabic Summer, 2018

Addie Mae Villas is an alumna of the 2018 Arabic Summer Program in Rabat, Morocco. Growing up in a rural area of the United States, she was drawn to Arabic to try to better understand the Middle East. Shortly after completing her NSLI-Y program, she participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program in Germany. She notes that both experiences allowed her to feel “comfortable embracing discomfort in living in a new place and with an unfamiliar language.” This led her to New York University – Abu Dhabi for her undergraduate degree, where she studies Political Science, Legal Studies, and Arabic. According to Addie Mae, “Being able to communicate and interact with those from different cultural perspectives allowed me to attend NYUAD with confidence and I think it’ll be the same with Schwarzman.” Addie Mae also credits her NSLI-Y experience with “fueling passion for wanting to understand ​firsthand regions and people that are often misunderstood.” She looks forward to continuing to pursue a greater understanding of the world through experiential education as she prepares for the Schwarzman Scholars program. After completing the Schwarzman Scholars program, Addie Mae intends to return to the United States to attend law school specializing in International Criminal Law to explore the cross-section of mass atrocity prevention, refugee rights, and international politics.​

One of Addie Mae’s favorite memories from her NSLI-Y experience was a trip to Fez with her roommate and Arabic teacher. She traveled to interview the director of a school for neurodivergent children in Morocco, as part of her capstone project on perceptions of neurodivergence in the country. She notes that “The trip was enlightening as we learned so much about the resources available and, at the same time, truly saw how much our Arabic has improved!”


Genrietta Churbanova, Chinese Academic Year, 2019-2020

Genrietta Churbanova is an alumna of the 2019-2020 Academic Year program for Mandarin in Beijing. Originally from Little Rock, she is finishing her degree at Princeton University in anthropology with minors in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and Chinese language and culture. Genrietta lived in Moscow until she was six and has returned to the region frequently to visit family. She is interested in combining her knowledge of these two areas of the world and becoming an anthropologist focusing on Sino-Russian relations and U.S. policy. She believes that the cross-cultural communication skills she gained on NSLI-Y will continue to serve her well in her future career.

Genrietta began her study of Chinese in eighth grade, and NSLI-Y cemented her dedication to it. She notes that her NSLI-Y experience showed her how language study struggles were worthwhile; “Language learning is full of peaks and valleys. When learning a language, there are times at which it feels as though you are not making any progress. These 'valleys' can be quite disheartening. But being in Beijing while experiencing the trials and tribulations of language learning served as a constant reminder of why I was learning Chinese in the first place: to build lasting relationships with Chinese people and culture. Upon returning to the U.S. for college, whenever I encounter a 'valley' in my Chinese learning, I think back to my time in Beijing. Memories of conversations I had with my teachers, host family, and friends never fail to motivate me to keep learning.”

For those interested in applying for scholarships or fellowships, Genrietta recommends dedicating yourself to causes you truly care about. She encourages applicants to “think carefully about which pursuits are worthy of your time. Do not take on commitments just to pad your resume. Instead, dedicate your time to causes, activities, and research topics that are important to you. Genuine passion for whatever drives you goes a long way in the fellowship application process (and it makes writing application materials much easier)!​"