Melissa Diamond, a 2015 University of Richmond graduate from Minneapolis, has been selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships. She is the University of Richmond’s first Schwarzman Scholar, a program which originated four years ago.

The Schwarzman Scholarship is a yearlong program where students from around the globe study China's role in the world while pursuing a Masters of Global Affairs at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Diamond is among 147 recipients selected from more than 2,800 applicants. Scholars are selected through a rigorous application process designed to evaluate academic ability, as well as leadership potential and strength of character.

During her time at UR, Diamond majored in Peace and Conflict through the Interdisciplinary Studies program and minored in women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Diamond is executive director of A Global Voice for Autism, a non-profit organization she established while an undergraduate at UR. The organization equips teachers and families in conflict-affected communities with the skills to support the development and success of children with autism and trauma-related behavior challenges in their classrooms, homes, and communities. She has most recently been based in a small village on the Syrian border in northern Jordan.

Diamond speaks English, Spanish, and Syrian Arabic and studied abroad in Nepal, Jordan, and Chile. She holds a master’s degree in Conflict, Security, and Development, and says she applied for this fellowship after realizing how important it is to discuss and understand the role of China as a key player in the world today.

“As I move on in my career, I believe that an in-depth understanding of Chinese culture, economics, and international relations will be invaluable to any initiatives I pursue,” Diamond said.

“The Schwarzman Scholarship is one of the most prestigious international fellowship programs for emerging leaders,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “We hope Melissa will inspire future Spiders to follow in her footsteps.”

The program starts in August 2019. To learn more visit

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Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship and is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. The vision of Schwarzman Scholars is to bring together the world’s best young minds to explore and understand the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to China’s increasing importance as a global power, and to make them more effective as links between China and the rest of the world.

Diamond's Accomplishments

  • Finalist for Forbes “30 under 30” in the Social Entrepreneurship division
  • Finalist for the Grinnell Prize for Social Justice.
  • Resolution Fellow
  • Society for International Development Andrew E. Rice Young Professionals in International Development Award Honorable Mention recipient
  • AMENDS Fellow
  • Boatwright Scholar
  • Rotary Peace Fellow
  • Presented twice at the United Nations Headquarters for World Autism Awareness Day (2014, 2017)
  • Hosted by the Malaysian Government in 2016 as a member of a working group on Education as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Community Summit.
  • Member of Board of Directors of the AMENDS Fellows Network, where she serves as Director of Programming
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