Gillings School student, alumnus among first cohort of Schwarzman Scholars

January 11, 2016

The two UNC recipients of the inaugural Schwarzman Scholars program award both represent the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Larry Han (left) and Max Seunik have been named recipients of the inaugural Schwarzman Scholars program award.

Larry Han (left) and Max Seunik have been named recipients of the inaugural Schwarzman Scholars program award.

Larry Han, a senior, and Max Seunik, a 2015 alumnus, have been awarded the elite China-based scholarship, which is modeled after the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and founded by American financier and Blackstone co-founder and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

This innovative master’s degree program supports the study of public policy, economics and business or international studies at China’s Tsinghua University and bridges the academic and professional worlds to educate students about leadership and China’s expanding global role.

Han and Seunik were selected from more than 3,000 applicants for the award, which provides learning opportunities including high-level interactions at lectures, an internship program, a mentorship network and intensive travel seminars. The public health scholars are Carolina’s first Schwarzman Scholars, and two of only 111 global recipients of the one-year award.

“Larry Han and Max Seunik are gifted leaders and dedicated humanitarians whose respective futures in global health and development are already brilliantly underway, “ said UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I know this opportunity to continue their pursuits as Schwarzman Scholars will only further invigorate their journeys towards changing the world.’’

Han, 21, is from Raleigh, North Carolina. He plans to graduate this May with a major in biostatistics and minors in chemistry and mathematics.

He is a Morehead-Cain Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa member and an Honors Carolina student, and is currently writing his senior honors thesis on malaria vaccine efficacy. He also is a recipient of UNC’s Phillips Ambassador Scholarship and the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

As a nationally-ranked teenage golfer, Han’s love of statistics sprang from his love of the links. When a wrist injury curtailed his ability to play at a higher level, he established a clinic to help golfers improve their game using a formula he devised to chart statistical data of players’ performance. Han spent the summer of 2015 at Wasserman Media Group with the golf consulting division, designing a novel method for assessing PGA Tour event marketability. He also spent three months in Guangzhou, China using biostatics to improve HIV self-testing uptake, which culminated in a presentation at the UNC-Project China Center.

Han hopes to use statistics to help people improve their health outcomes and has already made notable contributions in the treatment of HIV infection and malaria in China and Africa. He plans to pursue the public policy track in the Schwarzman Scholars program and aspires to a career where he can leverage research institutions and industries in the U.S. and China to drive innovative solutions to global problems.

Seunik, 23, is from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He graduated from UNC in May 2015 with a major in health policy and management and a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies.

While at UNC, Seunik was a Morehead-Cain Scholar and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He also completed a senior honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Benjamin Mason Meier entitled, “Human Rights Mainstreaming in the World Health Organization: A Comparative Study of Regional Offices.” His thesis has since been used to guide how the World Health Organization’s Africa office approaches health and human rights in the region.

During a gap year at UNC, Seunik spent six months in Rio de Janeiro researching the effectiveness of domestic violence prevention networks and shadowing senior World Bank leadership. He later presented his research at the 58th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. He has completed fieldwork in Rwanda with Rwandan Minister of Health Dr. Angnès Binagwaho, and in Mali with IntraHealth International. His work yielded three forthcoming co-authored articles, a textbook on global health and social justice and a report on the legal status of discrimination against women in Mali (in partnership with the International Labor Organization).

Seunik currently leads a research team with Innovations for Poverty Action to better understand barriers to local public service delivery and improve government outcomes. He intends to pursue the public policy track in the Schwarzman Scholars program and aspires to more effectively bring together distinct policy actors – like China and the U.S. – to build concerted action on poverty alleviation for the most vulnerable populations.

During their time as Schwarzman Scholars, Han and Seunik will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, surrounded by an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society. In this environment of intellectual engagement, they will gain new skills and connections to further their respective long histories of enacting social change.

This news story was adapted from the original UNC Spotlight article.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu