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Two Duke Seniors, One DKU Alumnus Earn Schwarzman Scholarship for Graduate Study in China

Schwarzman Scholars Cole Walker, Raghav Rasal and Nicholas Peoples.
Schwarzman Scholars Cole Walker, Raghav Rasal and Nicholas Peoples.

Two Duke University seniors and a Duke Kunshan University alumnus have been named Schwarzman Scholars, a program that funds one year of study in Beijing. 

They are among approximately 150 scholars that will begin the program in August 2023. 

Duke University seniors Raghav Rasal and Cole Walker have been selected for this honor. Nicholas Peoples, a 2018 from the two-year MSc-GH program at Duke Kunshan University, also received the award, one of the world’s most selective and prestigious fellowships.

The scholars develop leadership skills through a funded one-year master’s degree in global affairs, designed to enable future leaders of the 21st century to engage with China. Scholars are selected on the basis of leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to understand other cultures.

Students study at Tsinghua University in Beijing and live in Schwarzman College, a specially built state-of-the-art facility designed to promote community. Classes are taught in English, though all Schwarzman Scholars take instruction in Mandarin. 

Over the course of their one-year scholarship, students will engage in developing a better understanding of China and its place in international affairs by attending lectures, traveling, cultural immersion and a “deep dive” into a topic of their choice.

Rasal, a senior from Mumbai, India, will graduate in May next year with a degree in economics and minors in statistics and Chinese. Rasal has also grown up in Japan, Taiwan and the UAE and has studied Mandarin Chinese for several years.

At Duke, Rasal served as the Trinity ambassador and teaching assistant for the Economics Department as well as co-president of the Duke Economics Student Union. As a Bass Connections researcher, he investigated predatory lending during the subprime mortgage crisis, and has also served as the co-director of Duke Impact Investing Group’s consulting division.

After his Schwarzman term, Rasal aspires to be involved in the growing financial relationships between India and China. 

Walker, a senior from Decatur, Georgia, will graduate with degrees in public policy and Chinese. He has studied Mandarin Chinese for several years, winning both a Critical Language Scholarship in 2021 and a Taiwan Huayu Bilingual Exchange of Selected Talent Program Scholarship in 2022 to further his study. 

At Duke, Walker has served as a research assistant in the Chinese language department, an ambassador at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and as vice president of the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 

He has also served as the outreach coordinator for The Black China Caucus, and as a publicity team member for the Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit. 

Walker aspires to pursue a career focused on the relationship between the United States and China upon completing his Schwarzman experience.

Since graduating from Duke Kunshan, Peoples has continued to make his mark on global health.

As a Global Health Corps Fellow -- another extremely selective global fellowship -- he spent 13 months in Malawi leading various initiatives to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

He has also worked in rural Nepal, where his research on primary healthcare was published in Frontiers in Public Health with him as first-author, one of 11 peer-reviewed papers to his name.

Back in his home city, Peoples serves as executive director of HOMES Clinic, a small clinic based in downtown Houston, Texas, providing free primary healthcare to those who are experiencing homelessness.

On top of that role, Peoples is pursuing an M.D. at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, with the rare distinction of a full-merit scholarship.

“It’s impossible not to be excited,” said the 27-year-old. “I am ready to meet my colleagues at Schwarzman College. They are embracing the challenges of the 21st century as a catalyst for social good.”