• Valentin Josan, Sachintha Pilapitiya and Addie Mae Villas will join NYU peers Peirong Li and Stéphane Bincheng Mao at Tsinghua University

Abu Dhabi: NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) seniors Valentin Josan, Sachi Pilapitiya and Addie Mae Villas have been selected as the three UAE-based Schwarzman Scholars during the US and Global round of selections. They join NYU peers Peirong Li and Stéphane Bincheng Mao, who were selected in the earlier China process, together giving New York University six out of the 150 Schwarzman Scholars this year.

The Schwarzman Scholarship provides students with a one-year, fully funded Master of Global Affairs degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing and is the first scholarship created to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. Designed to build a global community of future leaders who will serve to deepen understanding between China and the rest of the world, it supports up to 200 Scholars annually from the US, China and the rest of the world. This year alone, it has received over 4,200 applications, the second highest in the program’s history.

Valentin Josan, from the Republic of Moldova,  is currently undertaking a BA in Economics with a Public Policy minor at NYUAD and serves as the Chief of Staff in the university’s Student Government. Josan is a passionate promoter of civic participation and has cofounded the first set of licensed TEDx conferences on education and nationwide MUN conferences in his home country of Moldova. Through an internship at Brunswick Group, Josan developed a strong interest in the relationship between geopolitics and global development and hopes to play a role in boosting international economic cooperation and sustainable growth.

Josan said: “Building resilience is in my view a fundamental mission of Schwarzman Scholars, which corresponds to the current rapid pace of global change. I believe that by addressing resilience, Schwarzman will prepare me to shape a more adaptable future in my area of work and approach problem-solving with a forward-thinking yet flexible mindset.”

Sachintha (Sachi) Pilapitiya, from Sri Lanka, is majoring in Economics and minoring in Political Science and Applied Mathematics at NYUAD. Pilapitiya has advocated for better economic policies through public talks and publications and is a founding member of Default LK, an organization creating civic economic awareness in Sri Lanka. He has refined his interest in policy-making through research at the Institute for Policy Studies in Colombo and at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Pilapitiya is a passionate student of the International Political Economy and hopes to explore China’s potential as an international lender during his time at Tsinghua.

Commenting on the Scholarship, Pilapitiya said: “Understanding the geopolitics of the 21st century is a key objective of the Schwarzman Scholarship, and through my studies in China, I aim to get access to institutions and people that fuel the country’s geopolitical ambitions. My experiences at Tsinghua would then enable me to contribute to both the study and implementation of international financial cooperation.”

Addie Mae Villas, from the US, is studying for a degree in Political Science with minors in Legal Studies and Arabic. She served as President of the Debate Union at NYUAD and co-founded the UAE’s first-ever Conference on Debate and Public Speaking for Women and Girls. As a volunteer with Safe Passage 4 Ukraine, Villas has helped resettle over 800 Ukrainian refugees fleeing war, inspiring her passion for mass atrocity prevention and the need for refugee protection in international law.

Villas added: “The curriculum of the Schwarzman Scholars program would aid my mission to create effective solutions that are applicable and appealing to state actors. My desire to work in atrocity prevention and refugee protection requires the framework and support that the Schwarzman Scholars program provides, while setting the right challenges through intentional coursework on global affairs and leadership in practice, which will allow me to find sustainable policies that protect the most vulnerable and prevent violations of international law.”

Established in the fall of 2015, the Schwarzman Scholarship was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, and is ranked first in Asia as an indispensable base for China’s political, business, and technological leadership. Candidates participate in a rigorous and thorough selection process including a written application and in-person interviews.

About NYU Abu Dhabi


NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective program with majors in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts, and humanities with a world center for advanced research. Its campus enables students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world, and to advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from some 125 countries and speak over 100 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.