By Marissa Payne
A University of Iowa alumna will soon head to China on a prestigious scholarship.
UI graduate Rachel Zuckerman, the 2016-17 University of Iowa Student Government president, has been selected as one of 142 Schwarzman Scholars for 2019. As part of the program, Zuckerman will spend a year in China pursuing a master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Zuckerman attributed much of her ability to be competitive for the opportunity to the experiences she had as a student leader.
“I think I was chosen for the Schwarzman because of my experiences and leadership as an undergraduate and the accomplishments that we had,” she said. “… The chance to represent the University of Iowa as the first Schwarzman Scholar is such an honor, and I’m hopeful that I can give one ounce back to the community that it gave me.”
University Counseling Service Director Barry Schreier wrote one of Zuckerman’s recommendation letters for the program’s application. He said Zuckerman found creative ways to change the culture on issues she addressed, acknowledging in particular her proposal to the state Board of Regents for a $12.50 mental-health fee to fund the hiring of eight new counselors.
Zuckerman is only in her seventh month as a college graduate, but Schreier said he is glad to see she has continued to create opportunities for herself beyond her success as a student leader. He believes her emotional intelligence and ability to maintain relationships with others will serve her well in China.
“… She has not struggled at all with leaving campus because she then immediately went out and decided she would start pursuing these scholarships,” he said. “I’m really glad that she is going to take all of the things she did so well here and continue doing them elsewhere.”
Lauren Freeman, a UI graduate who served with Zuckerman as the 2016-17 UISG vice president, said Zuckerman is vocal on issues facing students and brought a vision to UISG to focus the organization on listening to students’ needs.
“In working together, that allowed me to see just how incredibly poised of a leader she is while also being able to reach out to groups across campus and work with them to accomplish our goals,” Freeman said.
UI President Bruce Harreld said in an announcement he is proud of Zuckerman’s achievements and advocacy on campus that have led to this recognition.
“… Having worked with Rachel directly, I saw firsthand how effectively she puts her passion for improving people’s lives to work for those in need,” Harreld said in a statement. “Through her Schwarzman experience, I have no doubt that Rachel will continue to improve people’s lives across the globe and strengthen international ties.”
Zuckerman, a Michigan native, said the months since graduation have affirmed her long-term goal of working in the public sector improving the city of Detroit. She looks forward to being exposed to opportunities to engage with international leaders in a country such as China, given its dominance in global affairs.
As she said she aimed to do as UISG president, Zuckerman hopes the experience in China equips her with the tools to advocate for those who haven’t been granted the opportunities she has been given.
“Whether it’s the Schwarzman, whether it’s the chance to serve as Student Government president, I’m always trying to find a way to use that experience to elevate the voices and the experiences of people who didn’t have same types of access,” she said.and the experiences of people who didn’t have same types of access,” she said.