CSI alumna and former Verrazzano School student Fatu Amara ’20 is a finalist for The Schwarzman Scholars Program, one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarship programs.

The program provides full funding for students to earn a one-year master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing, as well as mentoring to develop their leadership skills​. Somewhere between 100 to 200 scholars are selected annually from the U.S., China, and other countries around the world, out of about 3,000 applicants worldwide.

Amara, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone, intends to concentrate in global public health if she is selected, with the eventual goal of taking a leadership role within a public health organization. She cites the death of her best friend from the 2014 Ebola crisis as one of her inspirations to improve public health systems.

Commenting on how she feels to be a Schwartzman finalist, Amara said, “The application process is very extensive, so my first reaction is that I feel extremely blessed to have such a strong support system. [CSI] Fellowship and Scholarship Advisor Michele Callahan and JK Watson Fellowship Director Sara Nolfo were so helpful in giving me essay feedback. From my recommenders to mentors, Schwarzman scholars, and the Watson community, many people helped me get here, and I’m so grateful and appreciative of their support. It feels surreal to get an interview, and this opportunity brings me a step closer to advancing my education to work on global public health issues.”

For her part, Callahan stated, “I am so excited that Fatu has been selected as a finalist in this very competitive application process! I am also very appreciative of the help we have had in preparing Fatu for what will be an extremely challenging interview before a panel of industry leaders. Members of the campus community participated in our mock interview practice, and I am grateful for the insights and feedback of Michael Paris, Mark White, and Stephen Ferst. We even had help from Baruch College’s Deputy Director of National & Prestigious Fellowships Advising, Valeria Hymas, a highly knowledgeable and experienced advisor who has contributed to many students’ success.”

While at CSI, Amara racked up a long list of accomplishments, such as a Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, interning at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the AVSI Foundation in post-genocide Rwanda; and former president of the CSI Student Government and the Psychology Club. After graduating from CSI, Amara joined AmeriCorps, through which she completed ten months of service via the NYC Civic Corps by working at Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) as a Volunteer Project Coordinator. Through CHASI, Amara recruited and managed teams of volunteers to meet the needs of NYC residents and address food insecurity issues during the height of the pandemic.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, with a research focus on the biochemistry of infectious disease, and minors in Psychology and Political Science. Her future goals include completing a Master’s degree[F1] , and working with local governments and community organizations to implement health policies and programs.

The Schwarzman program will make final selections in November 2021.

By Michele Callahan and Terry Mares