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Trinity Student awarded first Schwarzman Scholarship for Ireland

Denis O’Brien with Schwarzman Scholar, Lara Connaughton

Trinity College Dublin’s Lara Connaughton is the first Irish recipient of a Schwarzman Scholarship in Tsinghua University, Beijing. Lara studied BESS (Business, Economics and Social Studies) specialising in Business and Economics in her final year and graduated with a first class honors degree.

Denis O’Brien has provided generous funding to the initiative and is keen to ensure that the best and brightest Irish students will have an opportunity to develop their leadership skills through this transformative scholarship opportunity and join the ranks of leaders around the world, in the fields of business, finance, journalism, public service and academia. 

Denis O’Brien is a long-standing supporter of Trinity College Dublin, and has funded a range of initiatives across the University.  He is a Founding Patron of the Trinity Business School.

The Schwarzman Scholars is a highly prestigious prize and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.  It represents a historic effort for Chinese higher education and it is the single largest philanthropic initiative undertaken in China, funded largely by international donors.

Lara’s scholarship will be fully funded for a one year Masters Programme, living and working in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, travelling, and developing a better understanding of China.  In 2016 2,747 candidates from 119 countries competed for just 125 places in the incoming class and Lara will join Scholars from 30 countries and 75 universities at Tsinghua University, one of China’s premier institutions. Tsinghua University is partnered with Trinity College Dublin in student exchange.

On receiving the award Lara noted: "It is a great honour and I am so grateful not only to be representing Trinity and my hometown Galway, but also to be the first Irish scholar chosen for the Schwarzman Programme. I look forward to being immersed in Chinese life, to experience the culture and colour behind the statistics of this influential economy.   At a time when the landscape of current affairs is becoming increasingly polarized, I hope to bring perspectives from an interconnected Ireland when discussing the future of global relations with my international classmates.  I am immensely grateful to Denis O’Brien for his support and contribution to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Dean of Trinity Business School, Professor Andrew Burke added “The Schwarzman program have picked a great scholar in Lara as she will really add so much to their programme.  At a time when we need more female leaders in Global business and society, we can take great heart to see somebody of Lara’s international calibre getting stellar acknowledgement and development through the Schwarzman Scholarship program.  Trinity College greatly appreciates Denis O’Brien’s generosity in supporting high-calibre opportunities for Irish students, both through this scholarship initiative and through his support as one of the founding patrons of Trinity Business School’s new €80m building.”

About Schwarzman Scholars:

Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.   Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity.
The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 Scholars annually from the U.S., China, and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, travelling, and developing a better understanding of China.