Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, the Schwarzman Scholars program is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century. Touch is one of 147 Schwarzman Scholars who will pursue a Masters in Global Affairs with concentrations in public policy, economics and business, or international studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The program’s fourth cohort is comprised of students from 38 countries and 119 universities, with 40% originating from the United States, 20% from China, and 40% from the rest of the world. Touch was one of 400 semi-finalists who were interviewed in one of four cities around the world by CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, non-profit executives, journalists and other global leaders. The selection process was designed to evaluate academic ability, as well as leadership potential and strength of character.
Although Touch is uOttawa and UBC’s first Schwarzman Scholar, he is also the first Cambodian to be awarded one of the world’s most prestigious graduate fellowship. “I am humbled and honoured to be selected as the first Cambodian Schwarzman Scholar, and delighted to represented both Canada and Cambodia,” said Touch.
Touch is currently completing the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. At uOttawa, Touch graduated from the Joint Honours Bachelor of Social Science in Public Administration and Political Science with COOP (Magna Cumma Laude).
As a Schwarzman Scholar, Touch plans to deepen his understanding of Cambodia and Canada’s bilateral relationship with China in order to support policymakers and decisionmakers in tackling issues of the 21st century: “Given China’s growing presence in Southeast Asia – economically, politically, and socially, and the need for Canada to deepen our relationship with the world’s fastest-growing economy, understanding China will be essential for both these countries in navigating its bilateral relationship with China.”
He attributes his success to his time at uOttawa, “My academic, professional and student-life experience at uOttawa prepared me exceptionally well. As a student in political science and public administration, the opportunities to be engaged and challenged by leading thinkers and practitioners at uOttawa to think of a world better led and governed by good public policy is unparalleled.”
As an undergraduate student, Touch was a research assistant to Dr. Eric Champagne working on policy implementation, and worked with Dr. Luc Turgeon on the representations of francophones and anglophones in the federal public service through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). As a COOP student, Touch gained valuable work experience working for the Government of Canada at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, PRC, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Public Works and Procurement Canada.
Within the uOttawa community, he served two terms as the vice-president of academic affairs - public administration for the International, Political, and Policy Studies Student Association, the representative-body for students in political science, public administration, and international and modern languages. As the vice-president, he founded and chaired the Public Administration Committee, which today is responsible for several flagship student-led initiatives, such as the Public Policy Conference, Networking on the Hill, and Y-Politika.