Published December 05, 2019 by Rebecca Goldfine

Tennis Champion Jerry Jiang ’19 Is Named Schwarzman Scholar

At Bowdoin, Yangeng "Jerry" Jiang ’19 developed his leadership skills as a star tennis player and team captain. Now he wants to use his sports background to forge ties between China and the world.
Jerry Jiang playing tennis

Jiang is one of 148 college graduates, out of an applicant pool of more than 4,700, to win a Schwarzman Scholarship for the 2020–2021 academic year.

The program supports a year of graduate school at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where students pursue a master's degree in global affairs. It was founded in 2016 by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, with a goal to "prepare young leaders to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world," as "future leaders around the world will depend upon an understanding of China’s role in global trends."

Students in the Schwarzman Scholarship program are an international group, coming from nations around the world. Jiang grew up in Qingdao, China, and moved to the US when he was fourteen to attend high school in New Jersey.

At Bowdoin, he majored in economics and education, and he played varsity tennis all four years. In his first year, the team won its first NCAA Division III Championship. In his senior year, Jiang and his doubles partner were NCAA Division III champions, and Jiang today holds the record for most doubles wins at Bowdoin. 

Doubles tennis requires intricate coordination between partners and mutual improvisation. Jiang wants to use his love of tennis and his athletic background to build relationships between the people of China and other countries, including the US. "As a member of the tennis team, I always believed that sports play a huge role in connecting the world," he said recently on a  call from California, where he is working as an assistant tennis coach for Claremont, Mudd, and Scripps colleges."Sports is such a tool for people of all kinds of backgrounds to come together."

His experience on the Bowdoin tennis team shaped Jiang's ideas about leadership, he said, adding that he was especially inspired by 2016 captains Chase Savage ’16 and Luke Trinka ’16, teammate Kyle Wolfe ’18, and head coach Conor Smith. "We always believed that the team effort is above individual talent," he said. "I also think it is important to bring everyone together and leave no one behind, to foster potential in everybody on the team."

Additionally, Jiang credits Bowdoin with equipping him with independent thinking skills and instilling in him an appreciation for the common good. 

After learning about the Schwarzman Scholarship from a friend who participated in the program, Jiang decided to apply. Part of his interest stemmed from wanting to reconnect with his home country and learn more about it after being away for nine years, and part of it was the connection he saw between the goals of the  Schwarzman program and what he learned at Bowdoin.

"I found the philosophy of the Schwarzman Scholarship program similar to the mission of our college, which motivates me to... explore more possibilities to improve myself and make this world a better place," he said.

(NOTE: Jiang is one of two Bowdoin graduates recently to be awarded prestigious scholarships to study abroad.)