Tech Entrepreneur and Financial Advisor Earns Schwarzman Scholarship to Study in China
Alumni | Dec 16, 2022 | Gabelli School of Business
by Adam Kaufman
Ling (Cheryl) Yang, a 2019 graduate of Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, recently earned a prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The one-year program, which Yang will begin in August 2023, was established in 2013 by Blackstone Group CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman and modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship program.
Yang came to Fordham from China and was part of the first cohort of students to earn a B.S. in global business at the University’s Lincoln Center campus. She did so with a concentration in global finance and business economics and a second major, in interdisciplinary math and economics.
She also co-founded the Consulting Club at Fordham, which she said she was inspired to do by the gender gap she had noticed in the finance world—one in which women’s global representation on executive committees is only 20%, according to Forbes. The club gave Gabelli students, many of them women, a chance to learn from each other and industry experts about “the problem-solving skills needed to effectively pair creativity and opportunity in the consulting world,” Yang said.
As a student, she worked as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley and CIBC Capital Markets, and she is currently a partner and head of advisory services at Coefficient Partners, a financial advising firm. Yang also founded a blockchain project called IconFashion, which functions as what she calls a “dress-up game” for users’ NFT avatars—non-fungible tokens that serve as unique digital identifiers. Like the Fordham Consulting Club, which Yang called “the root of [her]entrepreneurship,” IconFashion came out of what she saw as a lack of female representation, this time in the cryptocurrency and NFT spaces.
A Unique—and Selective—Program
While working and pursuing her own business, Yang knew she wanted to continue her education with graduate studies, and after talking to several friends who were Schwarzman Scholars, she decided to apply.
“It’s something very unique,” Yang said about the Schwarzman program, which had over 3,000 applicants this year. “It’s a very small class—about 150 people this year—and from all different backgrounds.”
Lorna Ronald, Ph.D., director of Fordham’s Office of Prestigious Fellowships, described the Schwarzman award as “the scholarship for studying in China.”
“They’re really intentional about building a leadership community and having the cohort learn from each other,” she said.
One of the goals of the Schwarzman Scholars program is to “build a global network of young leaders that are prepared to confront the pressing challenges facing the world,” according to the press release announcing the Class of 2023–2024. “Scholars are selected based on their leadership qualities and the potential to understand and bridge cultural and political differences.”
Preparation, Research, and Self-Reflection in the Application Process
For Yang—the second Fordham student to be accepted to the program, after Ran Niu, GABELLI ’16—the program will give her the opportunity to deepen her knowledge of global affairs, network with students from diverse backgrounds, and figure out how to continue growing her business. Even just going through the application process, she said, “gave me a chance to take the time and connect the dots between school, work, my business, and what I want for my future.”
Yang’s feelings about the application process echo what Ronald told Fordham News in November, when she said that applying for prestigious awards gives students and alumni “a beautiful opportunity to think about [themselves]and [their]place in the world.” She said she encourages students to apply early in their undergraduate years, as a way to help clarify and pursue their academic and career goals.
After getting to know Yang, Ronald was unsurprised her application to Schwarzman was successful.
“Cheryl is really incredible,” Ronald said. “She is very, very thoughtful and deliberate about her path. I think it’s that leadership—she sees a situation that’s out of whack, and she says, ‘What can I do about it?’”
Yang encouraged Fordham students and alumni thinking about pursuing prestigious fellowships to become as knowledgeable as possible about the opportunities that are best for them.
“Do your own research, and talk to people who have been through the application process,” she said. “Each scholarship process is different. Find the one that really fits your own needs, and then prepare and research.”