A Q&A with Cooke and Schwarzman Scholar, Kyle Becerra

Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar Juan Carlos “Kyle” Becerra Jr., a political science major at Stanford University, has been named a Schwarzman Scholar – one of 150 from around the world. Schwarzman Scholars will pursue a fully funded master’s degree in global affairs in Beijing, China at Tsinghua University. In this Q&A, Kyle talks about the process of getting the scholarship, and what he’s most looking forward to in the future.


Q: What drew you to the Schwarzman Scholars program and what was the application process like?

A: There were many factors that drew me to Schwarzman Scholars. Most notably, I was excited about the opportunity to join a community of insanely talented, peace-loving, and forward-thinking leaders already on their way to changing the world. The opportunity to learn so much from the incredible individuals who make up the Schwarzman Scholars community, not just during the program, but throughout the rest of my life, is something I deeply desired.

I was also strongly drawn to the opportunity to gain a deeper, more human understanding of China. I see this as a chance to represent the United States, see with my own eyes what’s really going on, and build genuine human connections to make a difference in the world, especially since I intend to dedicate my life to public service.


Q: What are you most looking forward to about the program?

I’m strongly looking forward to experiencing China. The culture and food, the transportation and cities, meeting new people and living in a completely new society. I’ve never left the United States, it’s all I’ve ever known. So I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone and see what’s out there. A close second is the academics. I especially can’t wait to learn about Chinese philosophy, history, and politics.


Q: What are your ultimate career goals for the future, and how will this program help you get there?

I intend to dedicate my entire life to serving my country as a public servant. I believe I have a duty to people like my parents, to the communities that raised me, and to all individuals in our country who have faced adversity due to unjust policies and political practices, to deliver the promise of America. Ideally, I’d like to serve in the United States Congress.

As a member of Congress, you deal with every single issue our country faces. This even includes foreign affairs and international issues. And I think many Americans today are beginning to understand the importance of having elected political leaders who are fluent in international affairs. I believe Schwarzman Scholars will be a life-long asset to me in my career and help me in accomplishing my mission for the world.


Q: How did your time as a community college student, Stanford University student, and Cooke Scholar prepare you for this adventure?


I feel like I could write a book on this, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. I call community college the factory of second chances because it did just that for me, it gave me a second chance at life and at dreaming. Community college accepted me with open arms. Community college gave me almost-seamless flexibility when I worked two jobs while being a full-time student. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without community college.

Stanford has provided me with such a profound and life-changing education. For as long as I live, I will be passionately curious about democratic theory, politics, political philosophy, etc. Additionally, Stanford is the place where I’ve blossomed into an outspoken, conscientious leader who always stands up for what is most important to them and for what is morally right.

Lastly, being a Cooke Scholar has helped provide me with the strength, courage, and motivation to keep moving forward. Being at Stanford has not been easy for me. But my Cookie Cousins and my Cooke advisers have been supportive and have always believed in me. That has made a big impact on me.


Q: How does it feel knowing you will be moving to China later this year?

It feels surreal. As I mentioned, I’ve never left the United States. When I was 5 years old in kindergarten, I remember practicing reading using a world history textbook. In that textbook, they had a China section and they had a picture of the Great Wall of China. I was so mesmerized by that entire section and had always dreamed of visiting China. In other words, this is a dream come true.


Q: What was your family and friend’s reaction to hearing your big news? What was yours?

I’ll never forget getting that phone call where I found out the good news. I started crying happy tears, just pure happiness. My mom cried happy tears when I told her immediately after the call, and my friends were so elated. Overall, this was the culmination of years of pure hard work and passion, and I wouldn’t have accomplished this if it weren’t for the tremendous support I’ve received throughout my academic journey.


Congratulations, Kyle, on this remarkable achievement! Sign up to be notified about application deadlines and details about the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.