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Maxwell Alumna Mallie Prytherch G’19 Named as a 2021-22 Schwarzman Scholar
Mallie Prytherch G’19, an alumna of the master of public administration program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, was named today as a Schwarzman Scholar. She is Syracuse University’s second Schwarzman Scholar; the first, Kyle Rosenblum ’20, was selected last year.
Prytherch is one of 154 scholars selected from more than 3,600 applicants from around the world. The Schwarzman Scholars Program was created in 2016 to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century. The program provides scholars the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and professional networks through a one-year master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Schwarzman Scholars are chosen on the basis of leadership potential, strength of character and academic ability.
Below, Prytherch talks about receiving the scholarship and the value of her Maxwell degree.
Q: You are planning to embark on a career as a staffer in politics. How do you believe your Schwarzman experience will help you prepare for that?
A: The skills and training that I received at Maxwell have given me the best policy background for my planned career; the experience that I will gain as a Schwarzman Scholar will help me put those tools to work.
Q: The vision of Schwarzman Scholars is to bring together the world’s best young minds to explore and understand the economic, political and cultural factors that have contributed to China’s increasing importance as a global power, and train them to become effective links between China and the rest of the world. Why is this so important, particularly at this historic time in our world?
A: I wrote in my Schwarzman application that the world is at a tipping point. We can choose to go one of two ways: The United States can retreat into isolationism because we fear losing our influence, or we can choose to lead the world into a more cooperative era. The United States is backing away from its long-held policies of free trade, international cooperation and economic development, and China is wasting no time in filling the global power vacuum.
The issues that we will face in the 21st century (climate change, human migration, AI, to name a few) are not ones that nation states can tackle individually. The only way our world will survive into the next century is through collaborative governance. This is not an idealistic dream, but the only choice that is pragmatic in the long term. China and the United States must work together on the world stage, but to do this successfully we need to make every effort to understand one another.
Q: You recently served as the campaign manager for Gary Wegman, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District. Can you share some of that experience with us?
A: Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District is special to me; I grew up within its borders. The district is rural and likely unwinnable in the near future for anyone on my side of the aisle, barring an influx of millions of dollars or seismic political shifts. Like many other campaign managers in non-competitive districts, winning was not my only goal. Positive change is possible even in heavily skewed districts, and it begins with holding elected representatives accountable for transparency and results on behalf of their districts. Pennsylvania had over 75 percent voter turnout in 2020, which is an encouraging sign that more people than ever feel that their voices are being heard in the electoral process. I am pleased at what our campaign was able to accomplish, and I hope that this area will continue to get the attention it deserves from its representatives.
Q: You received an M.P.A. degree from the Maxwell School in 2019. How has Maxwell prepared you to make positive change in the world?
When people ask me about my experiences, I always tell them attending Maxwell was the best decision I’ve ever made. I can always turn to any Maxwell alumni to ask a question, request assistance or even just vent. In the cutthroat world of politics, the fact that I have people that I can automatically trust is invaluable.
I also use the skills that I learned at Maxwell all the time. As a campaign manager, I find myself doing a lot of policy work—even when it’s just writing platform points for my candidate. I also still have a lot of the assignments I did and the articles I read when I was at Maxwell, and I reference them when I have questions about the setup of the National Security Council or WIC eligibility!
Q: How did you find out about the Schwarzman Scholars Program? What do you encourage fellow students to do if they are interested in this kind of opportunity?
I found out about the Schwarzman Scholars Program in a roundabout way: I was looking for opportunities to return to China, and I did a Google search. If you are interested in applying for the program, reach out to the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA). They can give you more information, look over your application, and help you prepare for the interview if you become a finalist. I’m also happy to talk further with any interested students—just contact the CFSA and they can put you in touch.
My best advice to anyone interested in applying is to be authentic. The majority of people that apply for the Schwarzman Scholars Program are highly qualified and academically gifted. Academic records and leadership experiences are important, but it’s not going to be those things alone that set you apart. Show the selection committee who you really are and what you believe. In this day and age of curated video and over-prepared interview answers, being authentic is both brave and unusual. You have a story, so tell it. And good luck!
Students interested in applying for national scholarships such as the Schwarzman Scholars Program should complete an “intent to apply” form with CFSA by the end of June 2021, and plan to work with CFSA.