Jacksonville native Katie Dykstra selected for prestigious fellowship


Katie Dykstra, currently a senior computer-science major at Princeton University, has always set her aims on learning Mandarin. When given the opportunity in the fall semester of her junior year, she immediately seized the opportunity, and was inspired to attend a Chinese politics class the next semester.

When the call came to apply to Schwarzman Scholars — a prestigious global fellowship and one-year master’s program hosted in Beijing, China — she couldn’t pass up the chance to fully immerse herself in this interest.

On December 6, 2021, Schwarzman Scholars announced its seventh class. Among the announced recipients of the scholarship was Dykstra, a native of Jacksonville and Chicago.

Dykstra will join a class of 151 Schwarzman Scholars, representing 33 countries and 106 universities. In Beijing, Scholars pursue a one-year master’s degree in global affairs with a core curriculum focused on three pillars: leadership, China and global affairs.

They are taught by leading international and Tsinghua faculty, with frequent guest lectures from prominent global-thought leaders. Beyond the classroom, Scholars gain exceptional exposure to China and access to important relationships through internships, mentors, high-profile speakers and world-renowned faculty members.

Dykstra hopes to combine her interest in Chinese language and politics with a passion for machine learning and sees Schwarzman Scholars as an opportunity to forge a connection between these two increasingly important areas.

“I’m excited to learn about China firsthand,” she said. “It’s tough to really understand it without going there, but China will no doubt factor heavily into the future of AI and machine learning.”

The program, which is hosted at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, conducts one of the world’s most rigorous application processes to identify each class.

From an initial pool of 3,000 competitive applicants, roughly 400 candidates were invited to interview virtually in Beijing, London, New York or Singapore. Candidates from 55 countries spoke with panels of CEOs, government officials, university presidents, journalists and nonprofit executives, among others.

Dykstra and the other 150 recipients of the fellowship were identified and selected because of their intellectual acumen, strength of character and leadership ability and potential.

While at the program, Dykstra is also looking forward to trying different Chinese cuisines, and to travelling around China outside Beijing and throughout Asia.

The class of 2023 will arrive at Schwarzman College in fall 2022.