For just the second time in history, a Rotman Commerce alum is set to embark on one of academia’s most prestigious graduate fellowships.
Khadija Waseem has been selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, which funds a one-year master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing for a select number of outstanding students worldwide. As a Schwarzman fellow, Waseem will explore the role of digital governance in creating a more democratic and equitable society.
"It’s going to be an adventure that will allow me to pursue my passion for global affairs alongside a diverse group of brilliant individuals,” says Waseem, who emphasizes the importance of building bridges and problem-solving on a global scale through dialogue and innovation.
Waseem graduated in 2021 with an honours bachelor of commerce degree and management specialization as a member of University College. She says she found boundless joy in exploring the fascinating subjects offered by Arts & Science that allowed her to discover multidisciplinary opportunities with astronomy and semiotics being among her favourites.
“These courses shape your perspective especially in the business field, allowing you to have a multidimensional lens when you’re interacting with people from different backgrounds, who all have unique viewpoints,” says Waseem. “An Arts & Science education gives you the resources to make connections with the world around you.”
Many of Waseem’s experiences at U of T were life-changing and critical to promoting growth and self-discovery. While at the St. George Campus, she worked as a teaching assistant and participated in the Summer Abroad program. Waseem also founded Accessibility at Rotman Commerce, the first peer-led centralized navigation program for students outside the classroom.
An Arts & Science education gives you the resources to make connections with the world around you.
Now, reflecting on her Schwarzman honour, Waseem thanks the mentors who inspired her while at U of T, including Douglas Snetsinger.
“I have followed and have been amazed by Khadija Waseem’s path since she was my student. It is quite remarkable,” says Snetsinger, a lecturer with the Rotman School of Management. “She has lived a purpose-driven life to enrich the lives of others while building her capacity to contribute to social issues.”
Another mentor, Michael Khan of Rotman, says Waseem's positive impact on those around her was immediately clear.
“Her animated character and passionate positions were often the spark that set off the entire class to participate,” recalls Khan, an associate professor, teaching stream. “I wish her luck with Schwarzman and beyond. I know she will diligently learn, galvanize those around her with her infectious energy, and build bridges with her penchant for open dialogue.”
At Tsinghua University, Waseem is keen to embark on a rigorous study of global affairs while honing the necessary skills to become a leader in the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.
I believe every opportunity fate sends our way is a privilege allowing us to manifest our potential and live a life of purpose, learning and growth. Sometimes you find yourself on paths beyond what you imagined, and in those moments it’s up to you to be courageous and take the road less travelled.
“As technology rapidly advances, it’s important to engage policymakers and digital partners for a cohesive dialogue and strategy,” she says. “These two groups cannot afford to work in silos, or humans will face the negative repercussions of weak digital infrastructure for generations. I want to build the digital governance infrastructures of tomorrow, today.”
Waseem already has experience advising world leaders. During her undergraduate degree, she worked in the Prime Minister’s Office, having an opportunity to brief the PM personally. She also worked as a special assistant to Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development, working on key social policy initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really exciting for me as a hyphenated Canadian to provide grassroots knowledge of what's happening to young people on the ground — to offices that otherwise wouldn't have been able to hear our voices,” says Waseem.
And Waseem will continue learning how to better amplify the messages and support the issues she cares about when she heads to class this fall as a Schwarzman Scholar.
“I believe every opportunity fate sends our way is a privilege allowing us to manifest our potential and live a life of purpose, learning and growth,” says Waseem.
“Sometimes you find yourself on paths beyond what you imagined, and in those moments it’s up to you to be courageous and take the road less travelled.”