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Souleymane Diallo ’24 selected as a Schwarzman Scholar

GOING GLOBAL: Souleymane Diallo has been chosen for the 2024–25 cohort of Schwarzman Scholars, making him the University of Rochester’s seventh recipient since the award was established in 2013. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The Rochester senior is among 150 students from around the world to take part in the prestigious program in China.

Souleymane Diallo ’24, an international relations major from Guinea, West Africa, has been selected as part of the 2024–25 cohort of Schwarzman Scholars. He’ll begin a one-year, fully funded master’s program in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, starting this August.

Established by investor and philanthropist Stephen Schwarzman, the program offers an immersive experience within an international community of thinkers and leaders in business, politics, and society. Schwarzman Scholars study the Chinese language and have access to internships, personalized mentorship, high-profile speakers, and field-based seminars, while visiting different regions of China.

“This is an immense honor for me,” Diallo says. “The program will expand my perspectives, networks, and possibilities. I’m particularly looking forward to learning about China from China’s perspective—and learning about the rest of the world from China’s perspective.”

Diallo is Rochester’s seventh recipient since the award was established in 2013. He is one of 150 scholars from 43 countries and 114 universities chosen for the 2024–25 cohort. The class was selected from more than 4,000 candidates who underwent a demanding application process.

According to Belinda Redden, director of the Student Fellowships Office, “It’s not enough to be an excellent student with an impressive record of leadership and service to emerge from the pack of equally smart and engaged applicants for awards such as the Schwarzman Scholarship. It takes a keen understanding of the why that motivates one to action, a nuanced understanding of potential solutions to the problems of concern, and a well-considered vision for what is needed in one’s own intellectual and practical development to realize the lofty goals. Souleymane has these qualities in spades.”

Diallo is currently studying in Freiburg, Germany, in a University partner program offered through the Center for Education Abroad. He was a co-recipient of a 2022 Projects for Peace grant, hosting a summer entrepreneurial leadership and peace education program in Conakry, Guinea, with Abdoul Rasmane Maiga ’25 for youths representing all regions and religious beliefs called the Stronger Together Initiative. The multifaceted initiative  was developed in response to the country’s recent experience of political instability, violence, and social injustice.

The senior has been active on the River Campus, representing his peers in the Pan-African Students Association, serving as a residential adviser and working as a peer career advisor at the Greene Center for Career Education and Connections. He also was a student fundraiser in the University’s Office of Advancement and served on the presidential advisory board, counseling the Students’ Association president and vice president on numerous issues, including the University’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and international students’ experiences.

Away from Rochester, he gained professional finance experience interning at two leading US firms—PIMCO in 2022 and Goldman Sachs in 2023. He also created a nonprofit called the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative with Maiga and Chernor Diallo ’22 (no relation). Since 2022, the organization has trained about 400 youths in entrepreneurship, peacebuilding, and leadership while hosting more than 10 events, including a national peace conference. “Longterm, I hope to grow GYLI into a university, nurturing ethical leaders to unlock Guinea’s potential through entrepreneurial leadership education,” he says.

Diallo was educated in Ivory Coast and came to Rochester by way of the African Leadership Academy, an educational institution in Johannesburg, South Africa whose mission is to develop the next generation of African leaders. He’s one of nearly 4,000 international students currently studying at Rochester who have been welcomed to the country and the University by the Office of Global Engagement. “We are thrilled for Souleymane’s well-deserved selection as a Schwarzman Scholar,” says Jane Gatewood, vice provost for Global Engagement. “He will continue to excel, just as he has at Rochester.”

A first-generation high school and college student who faced tremendous hurdles in his educational journey, Diallo says his time at Rochester and abroad have shaped his views on leadership and social responsibility. “The people and lessons along the way showed me education’s power to uplift society,” he says. “This motivates me to leave a positive legacy in my country’s education sector and beyond, and I aspire for a career in education.”

Diallo’s electives at Tsinghua will explore Chinese and broader global contexts—spanning finance, business, economics, climate policy, and technology. He’s especially interested in classes focused on nonprofit management, higher education leadership, and social innovation in China.

“I cannot wait to embark on this new learning journey,” he says.

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