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Sophia Bax-Wooten Named Schwarzman Scholar

Spelman Student Sophia Bax-Wooten Named Schwarzman ScholarSophia Bax-Wooten, C’2023, has been named to the eighth class of Schwarzman Scholars, one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships which is awarded to only 100 – 200 applicants per year, worldwide.

Founded by American financier Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Scholars’ experience is anchored in a rigorous and immersive Master of Global Affairs degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Bax-Wooten and her cohort will “Develop connections with leaders from China and around the world in high-level lectures and our mentorship program, and they participate in internships and projects with local businesses and organizations,” according to program organizers.

A Dean's Scholar and member of Spelman's Ethel Waddell Githii Honors Program, Bax-Wooten is a sociology major with a pre-law concentration and double minor in African Diaspora studies and comparative women’s studies. Social justice stands at the core of her work as an advocate and ally within intellectual, professional and personal spheres, she said.

"Holding diverse leadership positions on campus has set me on a trajectory of disruption -- disrupting traditions and trends of hate through DEI initiatives," said the Washington, D.C. native. Upon graduation, Bax-Wooten will use equity conscious frameworks to secure dignity for people within the corporate landscape.

Moving With Intention 

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I am a person who moves with intention. My Schwarzman Scholars candidacy was no different. I understood this prestigious fellowship as a unique opportunity for international scholarship. Their core purpose of preparingLarge Blue Quote Right global leaders espouses an appreciation for change that I recognize in myself. It was Spelman, the college and community, that taught me the value of choosing to change the world. I will carry this consciousness in the classroom and beyond.

Bax-Wooten applied for the Schwarzman program on the platform of "Loving Blackness" and said it was important that this framework be translated with nuance in centering Blackness. "Such nuance underscores themes which ground my emphasis on grace, empathy and peace, she added.

A Community of Excellence

"I thank Dr. Michelle Hite, associate professor of English, Honors Program director, international fellowships and scholarships director, for her mentorship. She helped me identify who I am as a change-maker. I thank my professors across campus for giving me the tools to articulate this identity with conviction, added Bax-Wooten. Lastly, a thank you to my fellow Spelmanites for giving me continuous reasons to love our Blackness."

Box-Wooten encourages students considering Schwarzman Scholars as their next step to apply and do so with full intention. "Be direct in your written and vocal storytelling. Your narrative should tell the committee who you are within personal, professional, and academic spheres. It is your primary job to prove your multidimensional self is set on a trajectory of change," she said.

Spelman Schwarzman Scholars

Naomi Aladekoba, C'2023, international studies major with a concentration in international development and double minor in Spanish and Asian studies, joins Box-Wooten as a 2023-2024 Schwarzman Scholar. This year, nearly 3,000 candidates applied from around the world and close to 400 candidates were interviewed, producing a class of approximately 150 Schwarzman Scholars to take part in this unparalleled program in August of 2023.

Previous scholars from Spelman include Chayla Cassandra Cherry, C’2022,  and Tayler Ulmer who through a combination of coursework and cultural immersion, gained unrivaled exposure to China and a broad network of important relationships through unique internships, mentorship opportunities, high-profile speakers and opportunities to travel throughout the country. The scholars were also given access to career services support that will help prepare them to make the best of their time in Beijing and beyond.


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