Rhodes.2020Zahrah Abdulrauf, Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named a Schwarzman Scholar.

Written by: Karen Templeton

Media contact: Yvonne Taunton

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Zahrah Abdulrauf, a University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences student, has been named one of the 154 Schwarzman Scholars worldwide and the first from UAB. 

Schwarzman Scholars is a fully funded, one-year master’s degree and leadership program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. With rigorous and innovative study of global affairs and hands-on exploration of Chinese culture and commerce, led by world-renowned leaders, the curriculum equips scholars to navigate China’s role in the global economy and global affairs. Participants gain leadership skills in their respective fields through courses, workshops and mentoring by industry experts. 

More than 3,600 candidates applied from around the world; approximately 400 candidates were interviewed, and only 154 Schwarzman Scholars were selected as part of the 2022 class. 

“I’m excited about the opportunity to study at Tsinghua University next fall,” Abdulrauf said. “Studying in Beijing as a Schwarzman Scholar will enable me to learn about the innovative economic development practices that have propelled China to the forefront of global innovation.”

Abdulrauf, who is also an Honors College student, majors in cognitive science and minors in economics, philosophy and media studies — an individually designed course of study. As a UAB student, she has shared her skillset locally and globally. Abdulrauf has served as a communications consultant for the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity and developed communications materials for donor and City Council meetings and large public outreach efforts. She designed the materials for the Birmingham Promise workforce development program, an effort that raised more than $10 million. She also interned virtually with Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide based in Hong Kong, and working remotely she assisted the program’s transition to a digital marketplace-based business model.

As a freelance designer since the age of 11, Abdulrauf uses her communication skills as a student leader on UAB’s campus. At the UAB Spark Lab, she spearheaded the planning and launch of a student-run commercial creative services agency across four departments. Since 2018, she has been a Stanford University Innovation Fellow, serving as a conduit between UAB’s student body and Birmingham’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Abdulrauf has been a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, UAB Undergraduate Student Innovator of the Year, UAB Presidential Summer Fellow and Rhodes Scholar finalist.

“The Schwarzman Scholars Program is highly competitive, and I am so proud of Zahrah,” said Pam Benoit, Ph.D., UAB senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “I am grateful to the supportive team in our university’s National and International Fellowships and Scholarships office who help students navigate the awards process and help them find these life-changing experiences.”