Academics and Research

DU undergraduate named to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars

University of Denver senior Cameron Hickert, a double major in physics and international studies, has been named to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars. Hickert, who also serves as president of DU’s Undergraduate Student Government, is one of 111 recipients selected from a pool of 3,000 applicants worldwide and the only student selected from a Colorado institution.

The program was started by Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, with the goal of identifying future global leaders. Scholars were chosen through a rigorous process designed to evaluate intellectual capacity and leadership potential. Three hundred semifinalists were invited for in-person interviews in Beijing, Bangkok, London or New York. The interviews were conducted before distinguished international panels comprised of CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, nonprofit executives, journalists and other leaders.

As a Schwarzman Scholar, Hickert will receive a fully funded scholarship to study at the new Schwarzman College at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing. The program is designed to prepare its graduates to build stronger relationships between China and a rapidly changing world, and to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

Hickert developed an interest in China’s role in the dissemination of peaceful nuclear technologies assisting on-site at the recent Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna as an intern with the U.S. State Department.

“The entire experience was too lucky for me to ever have imagined,” Hickert says. “Standing 30 feet outside of the room where [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif ( an alumnus of DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies) were conducting one-on-one negotiations on the nuclear deal, I redefined my notion of how science and international diplomacy interact. And it was interesting how few diplomats spoke Mandarin. The Chinese delegation would communicate with representatives from other nations in English, but there was rarely, if ever, any reciprocity.”

Hickert credits many of his achievements to the opportunities he has enjoyed while at DU.

“The density of opportunities at DU is incredible, but more importantly, the people here have continually pushed me to pursue them,” says Hickert, who in 2015 was one of 58 students selected from nearly 700 nominees across the nation as a Truman Scholar. “Along the spectrum from debate to research to studying abroad — and everywhere in between — the constant at DU has been staff and faculty who open doors, and friends who drive me to step into those new opportunities. And all the while, these same friends make certain I stay grounded, enjoy the experience and have the right motivations. It’s a pretty amazing place, and I can’t say enough about how lucky I have been to be here.”

After graduation in June, Hickert will head to Washington, D.C., as part of the Truman Scholarship Program’s Summer Institute. In late August, he will move to Beijing as the fall term at Tsinghua University begins.



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