Originally from Cabot, Gairhan graduated cum laude in 2019 with a degree in history, political science, and African and African American studies from the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to further my education at Tsinghua University. My admission into the Schwarzman Scholars program is only possible through the mentorship and guidance of many University of Arkansas faculty and staff. Specifically, I want to thank Dr. Noah Pittman, Dr. Todd Cleveland, Dr. Mary Skinner, Jonathan Langley and Dr. Suzanne McCray.”

Gairhan is a member of the eighth class of Schwarzman Scholars. The master’s degree scholarship program was founded by Blackstone chair, CEO and co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman and is currently awarding its eighth class of scholars.

The scholarships are intended to recognize future leaders in a broad range of disciplines, educating and preparing the world’s most exceptional people to confront the most difficult challenges of the coming century, while also developing an understanding of China that will be essential to leading in the future.

“I am excited by the eighth cohort’s potential,” Schwarzman said. “As the geopolitical landscape grows more complex each day, I am inspired by this year’s selected scholars and their readiness to engage thoughtfully with global issues and drive change. We are confident that this inspiring cohort of young leaders will make the most of this unique opportunity.”

Gairhan plans to pursue a career with the U.S. Agency for International Development as a foreign service officer and focus on projects related to youth development and education.

While on campus, Gairhan served as president of the Associated Student Government and as chair of both the Programs Allocations Board and Distinguished Lectures Committee. He was a Chancellor’s Scholar and also received the Henry Woods Student Leadership Award.

“Congratulations to J.P. Gairhan and to all who supported him,” said Chancellor Charles Robinson. “He is an extraordinary person who is committed to service and to positive change for all. I enjoyed working with him in his role as a student and as a student leader. I have no doubt that he will make a significant difference in the lives of others throughout his career. This is well-deserved recognition, and the program, will help launch a distinguished career.”

Gairhan has worked domestically and internationally in the years following graduation from the U of A. He was a staff assistant in Washington, D.C., for the late Congressman John Lewis, where he managed daily office operations and staffing needs. As an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Sunflower, Mississippi, Gairhan supported the Sunflower County Freedom Project and oversaw their anti-hunger initiative, the Freedom Cafe. Through the Freedom Cafe, he helped make and distribute more than 5,000 nutritious meals to food-insecure families in the Mississippi Delta.

J.P. Gairhan with his community partner in Botswana. Together, they created the Kgalagadi Women’s Empowerment Center.

Selected as one of the first Fulbright English teaching assistants to Botswana, Gairhan taught English literature at a rural secondary school and supported community development projects in Tsabong, Botswana. Working closely with the community, he co-founded the Kgalagadi Women’s Empowerment Centre, which promotes the social, political and economic interests of women in Kgalagadi District, Botswana. His work abroad also includes time with the U.S. Peace Corps in Panauti, Nepal, where Gairhan trained as a full-time service English teacher for Nepali government secondary schools.

The Schwarzman Scholars were selected through a rigorous and thorough selection process designed to evaluate leadership experience and potential, intellectual and academic ability, strength of character and the capacity to understand emerging trends, design solutions and inspire others to a vision.

The applications were reviewed by a team of readers from around the world, with over 400 finalists invited for interviews before international panels composed of CEOs, government officials, university presidents, journalists, non-profit executives and other leaders.

“The accomplishments of the admitted class already are truly outstanding.” said Cordel Faulk, director of global admissions. “We are all very excited to welcome these 151 young leaders into the Schwarzman Scholars community. We are confident they will make excellent contributions in the next year and beyond.”

The scholarship is fully funded for all participants, including travel costs and a personal stipend, and is supported by the program’s endowment. Scholars will live and study together at Schwarzman College, the dedicated state-of-the-art academic and residential building designed exclusively for the program at Tsinghua University.

Scholars will study public policy, economics and business, and international studies, and spend a year immersed in an international community of thinkers, innovators and senior leaders in business, politics and society. They will learn from one another in an environment of intellectual engagement, professional development and cultural exchange, and pursue their academic disciplines while building their leadership capacities. The purpose of the Schwarzman Scholars program is to provide an experience that will expand students’ understanding of the world and create a growing network of global leaders for the future.

About Schwarzman Scholars: Schwarzman Scholars is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and led a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world for a one-year Master’s degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions to the Schwarzman campus opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence in 2016. Danielle Neighbour, a U of A honors civil engineering graduate in 2017, was in the second class of Schwarzman Scholars.

Students interested in applying for the Schwarzman Scholarship or other nationally competitive awards should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at 479-575-3771 or email awards@uark.edu.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among of the few universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.