This month we sat down with Associate Dean for Academics June Qian to hear about her background in education and her experience leading at Schwarzman Scholars.
1. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you first become interested in working in higher education and what drew you to Schwarzman Scholars?
I attended Tsinghua and was asked to stay on as a faculty member after graduating. Later, I served as a faculty member in the School of Economics and Management, and served as the Associate Dean from 2015-2018, while also teaching at Schwarzman Scholars. Amy [Stursberg, CEO of Schwarzman Scholars] was who persuaded me to join the administration. Although my main focus was teaching, I realized I could help provide management expertise and guide incredible young leaders.
2. What about Schwarzman Scholars most excites you?
Before I joined Schwarzman Scholars, I worked with MBA students to prepare future business leaders for China. At Schwarzman Scholars, the potential influence is even bigger in scope and scale—we’re cultivating world leaders. These young leaders come from all over the world, and often go back to their countries after graduating to work and lead in various sectors. They’ll all play such important roles, and that vision excites me. It’s a very meaningful program to be involved in.
3. What would you like prospective applicants and future Scholars to know about academics at Schwarzman Scholars? What makes the curriculum so unique?
There’s so much room to personalize your Schwarzman Scholars academic experience. Of course there are three big parts of the program. We focus on global affairs to create global leaders. We also focus on China—which is mandatory for anybody who wants to understand the world these days. And the curriculum of course emphasizes broad traits of leadership. But there are so many elective courses to serve all kinds of different interests within those categories—everything from history to contemporary challenges in the tech industry. You can also take courses offered by other schools at Tsinghua—everybody can find their own leadership path at Schwarzman Scholars.
4. You spend a lot of time working and speaking with Scholars directly—what qualities do successful Scholars share?
When assessing potential Scholars, I look for those who are willing to spend their time and their lives for the sake of others—those who, after five or ten years, will look to make others’ lives better. They’re true to their word, are appreciative of the support and help around them, and are empathetic in their worldviews. Successful Scholars don’t just have future goals—they’ve already done some preparation towards those goals.
5. Can you share some reading recommendations for anyone interested in learning more about China?
Rana Mitter’s Modern China: A Very Short Introduction is fantastic for anybody looking to get a brief overview of what China is like these days. There are also many novels and films which capture certain time periods well. Yu Hua’s To Live is fantastic in this regard. It was also made into a good film.
6. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to read and drink tea. They’re great to do together. When I have a free weekend, if I have a book in my hands and some tea, I’m good for the day. I also like to travel—to see new places and learn about new cultures.