December 15, 2020
Rick Foristel, Director of Webster University China
2021 Schwarzman Scholar: Ms. Luise Castlunger
Ms. Luise Castlunger has been selected to be one of the 2021 Schwarzman Scholars who will study for a year in Beijing, China. The program was found by Mr. Stephen Schwarzman, who is currently CEO and Chairman of The Blackstone Group, a New York private equity firm. In establishing the program, Mr. Schwarzman said, "Those who will lead the future must understand China."
This is not Ms. Castlunger's first China program. In 2019 she studied in a Webster-Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) joint effort, the Joint Undergraduate Program (JUP). Webster and SUFE have operated the program for more than twenty years. Previously, Ms. Castlunger attended a Hong Kong internship at the end of high school.
“Asia fascinated me, and I knew I wanted to return one day. I started taking Mandarin classes in Milan, where I pursued a BSc at Bocconi University and then applied to the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) for an exchange semester in the fall of 2019,” Ms. Castlunger said. SUFE in Shanghai provides both Chinese language classes and business courses presented in English.
“I was eager to study at a national Chinese university that would help me immerse in the country’s culture. I attended a Corporate Finance class and a Marketing class. I also wanted to use my semester in Shanghai to really work on my Mandarin and thus decided to take private classes for nine hours a week, knowing that language is the best way to connect with a foreign country,” she recounts.
While in Shanghai she biked from one class to another, normally with new Chinese friends from SUFE.
Ms. Castlunger with her Chinese classmates in Shanghai.
In marketing class, she became even more international, working with a Chinese student and three Korean students. “I did not feel like an exchange student but felt integrated and welcomed by the whole student body,” she said.
The second program in China turned out to be the road to the Schwarzman Scholars Program, which, Ms. Castlunger had never heard about before. Here's how it happened: “In Shanghai I met my closest friends, one of them was a Luce Scholar and told me -- look into the Schwarzman Scholars Program. When I learned more about it, I knew it was exactly what I always dreamed of. The Schwarzman Scholars Fellowship Program is a prestigious graduate fellowship that aims to build a global community of future leaders who seek to understand and build relationships with China. " She says that applying was rigorous and long and started at the beginning of COVID 19 and took half a year. "I had to deliver three essays, three letters of recommendation, a CV, and a video introduction,” she reports. I had never worked so hard for an application before, but it was an incredible opportunity and provided. It was worth every second. I was invited to the interview in October and could not have jumped higher and smiled more when I got a phone call with my acceptance in November.”
Starting in January 2021 she will start a Masters in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, the location of the Schwartzman Scholars Program.
The SUFE-Webster cooperation is one of many international partnerships for Webster that include Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Webster's Study Abroad program was one of only 56 out of 1,500 institutions placed on U.S. News & World Report's 2020 ranking. This is the 12th time Webster has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its study abroad programs since 2003.
Ms. Castlunger at the Great Wall, Beijing.