Ling “Cheryl” Yang, a 2019 graduate of Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, recently earned a  Schwarzman Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. One of the world’s most prestigious graduate scholarships, the Schwarzman Scholarship was established in 2013 by Blackstone Group CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Yang was part of the first cohort of students to earn a B.S. in global business at the University’s Lincoln Center campus. She pursued a concentration in global finance and business economics and a second major, in interdisciplinary math and economics.

Yang also co-founded the Consulting Club at Fordham, after noticing a gender gap in the finance world. According to Forbes, women’s global representation on executive committees is only 20%. 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, Yang 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 the financial advising firm Coefficient Partners. Yang is best known for her blockchain startup IconFashion, which 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 a lack of female representation, this time in the cryptocurrency and NFT spaces.

A Unique—and Selective—Program

“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 since Ran Niu, GABELLI ’16, the Schwarzman Scholarship will be an opportunity to deepen her knowledge of global affairs, to collaborate with students from diverse backgrounds, and to discover innovative ways to continue growing her business. 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 experience with the application process echoes 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. The office supports all students and alumni interested in applying for prestigious fellowships, like the Schwarzman Scholarship.

As for Yang, Ronald said, “Cheryl is really incredible. She is very, very thoughtful and deliberate about her path. 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.”