Greer Roberts (Class of 2018) reflects on the first half of the Schwarzman Scholars program and her most memorable experiences:
The Schwarzman Scholars Program has proven itself to be the gift that keeps on giving. This program has allowed me to form relationships, gain wisdom, and expand my skill set in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to without the program.
The sheer design of the College encourages regular, in-person interactions with my classmates. The beauty of this lies in the fact that casual interactions can turn into memorable moments. This has led to thoughtful conversations about a wide variety of topics, such as the potential of artificial intelligence, how to bridge the political divide in the U.S., and the necessity of regular introspection.
While these conversations sometimes happen by chance, they have also been formalized through platforms such as Steve’s Briefs, which are weekly student-run presentations that happen in the pub. Not only have these presentations taught me about areas of expertise that I have previously had little exposure to, but more importantly, they have helped me to grow even closer with my classmates as they share their passions and past experiences. One of my favorite presentations was done by Jordan Metoyer who talked with us about her experience working in the White House. Her presentation was educational, funny, and inspiring. It is unbelievable to think that just a few years back I was reading, in awe, an Essence magazine article about the powerful African American women in the Obama administration, and now one of those women is my classmate!
I have learned a considerable amount from my peers during these past few months, but of course I have also gained wisdom from the many guest speakers we have had visit the College. From Christine Lagarde to Michael Dell, we have had some of the most senior leaders in the world come by Schwarzman College to speak to us about their career paths, current challenges their respective organizations are facing, and what they hope to see in the future. One of the most relatable speakers was Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. His enthusiasm and charismatic personality got my attention, but his powerful story about challenges he has faced due to different aspects of his identity is what kept my interest. He stated how important it is to take the time to understand others and emphasized the need to seek out perspectives different from our own. He shared so much advice, but the most noteworthy was to lead with moral leadership when it is most difficult. As future global leaders, we will be responsible to shareholders, constituents, and the global community; therefore, leading morally is imperative.
Beyond the classroom, I have had several experiences that I am very thankful for because they have brought me one step closer to fulfilling my professional and personal goal: using the privilege and opportunities I have been given to empower others, particularly through working to end homelessness in the United States.
At the very beginning of the year, I had the opportunity to give an iTalk, which is similar to a TED Talk, to the Tsinghua University international student body. During this presentation I was able to talk about my passion for ending homelessness and what I hope to learn from China in order to do so. That was the first time I had ever advocated for this issue on such a large platform. The exposure I gained from that speech has already enlarged my network. Furthermore, giving the speech itself has increased my sense of confidence when it comes to speaking about important issues to large audiences.
I experienced a similar feeling of satisfaction during our one-week Deep Dive trip to Baoji. When visiting this rural town, I learned about “precision poverty alleviation.” With this relatively new strategy, in each house that receives government assistance, there is a document that states how many people live in the house, the annual household income, any health issues that members in the household have, which government official is responsible for bringing the household out of poverty and the expected timeframe. I found the level of detail fascinating, and I expect to refer back to this model for possible learnings that could be exported to the United States.
Overall, I feel that this program will help launch me into a promising future.
Greer Roberts graduated as Salutatorian from Howard University’s School of Business with a B.A. in International Business and a concentration in Management. During her time at Howard University, Greer studied abroad in Beijing where she taught English to Chinese students, participated in an International Business Negotiation Competition, and volunteered at an orphanage for children with incarcerated parents. Upon completion of Schwarzman Scholars, Greer hopes to leverage her degree and new network to provide support and solutions on a global scale for those who are underrepresented and overlooked.