VU engineering alumnus named 2023 Schwarzman Scholar

Aaron Niederman

Aaron Niederman, BS’20, has been named to the 2023 class of Schwarzman Scholars. He is one of 151 scholars chosen from more than 3,000 applicants representing 33 countries and 106 universities.

The Schwarzman Scholars Program, among the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowships, brings together the best minds from around the world to study the economic, political and cultural landscape of China.

Schwarzman Scholars enroll in a one-year master’s program at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing with a core curriculum focused on leadership, China and global affairs. This year’s applicants demonstrated the extent to which young leaders understand the timely importance of fostering peaceful and prosperous relations with China.

“The seventh cohort is an impressive group,” said Stephen A. Schwarzman, founding trustee of the Schwarzman Scholars Program. “The world needs Schwarzman Scholars now more than ever before. We are confident that these extraordinary young people will seize this opportunity to act with intellect and integrity, address pressing global issues, deepen cross-cultural connections, and fulfill the mission of Schwarzman Scholars: to create a steadfast network of future global leaders.”

Niederman grew up in Skokie, Illinois, and pursued double majors in engineering science and philosophy and a minor in engineering management at Vanderbilt, where he linked humanities and STEM research through projects focused on Smart Mobility Readiness and data privacy.  He served as a campus ambassador for Teach for America and in 2018 he interned at, a blockchain-powered investment funds platform.

Niederman worked to create the vice president of diversity and inclusion position on Vanderbilt’s Interfraternity Council. In this role, he directed systemic change in new member education and disciplinary processes, earning him the Top 10 Outstanding Senior honor. During spring and summer 2020, he organized protests against insufficient funding for community resources in Tennessee.

Niederman was named a 2020–21 Fulbright English Teaching Fellow to Taiwan and is currently serving as one of 11 Fulbright Taiwan English teacher trainers for 2021–22. His experiences in Taiwan, specifically teaching and learning from students and colleagues at an indigenous school, inspired him to seek a career in education philosophy and policy.

Niederman said he was drawn to the Schwarzman Scholarship “as an opportunity to build on my experience teaching in Taiwan.”

“As a Fulbright English teaching assistant, I solidified an interest in educational philosophy and policy,” he said. “On top of this, I realized that I am passionate about learning from and integrating knowledge from various societies and the systems they implement.”

Niederman is considering a variety of graduate programs as well as working for a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization, like the United Nations. As a Schwarzman Scholar, he seeks to explore these interests and passions. Building on the experience of being in China and completing his Schwarzman capstone project will be instrumental in determining his next professional and academic steps.

The 2023 scholars were selected through a rigorous application process designed to identify leadership potential, intellect and strength of character. More than 400 candidates from 55 countries interviewed virtually with panels based in Beijing, London, New York and Singapore. The review panelists included CEOs, government officials, university presidents, journalists and nonprofit executives, among others.

Niederman is Vanderbilt’s fifth Schwarzman Scholar, joining current scholar Bryan Stromer, BS’17, and Schwarzman alumni Phillip McGloin, BS’18; Jacqueline (Jami) Cox, BS’18; and Marc Chen, BS’16.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314