Santa Clara University alumnus Omar Hamade ’19 has been named one of 154 Schwarzman Scholars, a prestigious program sometimes referred to as the “Chinese Rhodes.” Hamade, Santa Clara’s second Schwarzman winner, will pursue a one-year master's degree and leadership program at Tsinghua University in Beijing starting next year.
Hamade graduated summa cum laude from SCU in only three years with a degree in biology, and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honors society as a junior, an honor achieved by only 10 percent of nominees. He currently works at Genentech, where he provides financial oversight and strategic analysis to increase access of Roche’s medicines to more than 120 million patients worldwide.
“I am incredibly honored to be selected as part of the Schwarzman Scholars’ sixth cohort,” says Hamade, who hopes to learn from China’s “Healthy China 2030” strategy and investigate how the U.S. and China can be partners in global health efforts. “The Schwarzman program is an exciting opportunity to gain an intimate understanding of China and its role in the world, engage with global leaders on the most pressing challenges of our generation, and most importantly, be surrounded by fellow Scholars from a range of backgrounds and experiences, all of whom have the potential to shape the future,” Hamade says.
Born to Syrian and Palestinian refugee immigrant parents, Hamade grew up in Santa Clara. Transforming healthcare for the underprivileged has been a long-time driving passion, and as a junior at SCU, he co-founded a community health clinic in San Jose that garnered $200,000 in grants to support 20 doctors. As a teenager, he was inspired after a visit to his family’s former home in Lebanon to launch a public health study that aimed to evaluate cancer awareness and barriers to medical treatment among Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens. Hamade and his academic partners have co-authored an article on their work in the peer-reviewed Journal of Cancer Education. They are currently working on an international cancer awareness program to increase diagnostic and treatment rates across the Middle East and North Africa region.
At SCU, Hamade was known as an exceptionally bright and insightful student, a “big picture thinker,” and a natural leader.
“A lot of people can say ‘this is what I want to do,’” said SCU biology Professor Brian Bayless, who taught Hamade cell biology in his final year at SCU. “Omar would say, ‘here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I’m going to do it.’.. He is going to do really, really great things.”
While studying at SCU, Hamade interned at Stanford University School of Medicine where he developed a microfluidic sorting device to isolate healthy sperm. He later interned at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals where he facilitated the development of a project and portfolio-management platform. As a sophomore at Santa Clara, he started a free science and math tutoring program for more than 200 low-income middle schoolers.
“Omar is a brilliant scholar and an exemplary and natural leader who is driven by compassion to lift up neglected and disadvantaged populations by his passion for justice and holistic equity,” wrote SCU Office of Fellowships Director Naomi Levy and English lecturer Stephen Carroll in a recent recommendation letter. “His record and his references all agree that he will be a game-changer in the field of healthcare, with his uncanny ability to locate the most promising new technologies and opportunities in genomic medicine and his talent for creatively integrating those breakthroughs into equitable and inclusive healthcare ecosystems that serve more people better at lower costs for all.”
This year’s class of 154 Schwarzman Scholars was selected from more than 3,600 applicants. The 2021-2022 class comprises students from 39 countries and 99 universities, with 42 percent from the United States, 16 percent from China, and 42 percent from the rest of the world. All of the scholars’ expenses are fully funded by the program.
In 2016, Jesse Caemmerer ’14 was chosen for the first cohort of Schwarzman Scholars.