Campus News

UGA’s Zakiyya Ellington named a Schwarzman Scholar

Zakiyya Ellington, a senior from Allen, Texas, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Arabic, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a minor in Spanish, and a master’s degree in business analytics. (Photo by Stephanie Schupska)

The University of Georgia’s Zakiyya Ellington, a senior from Allen, Texas, was one of 154 students selected internationally for the Schwarzman Scholarship, a graduate fellowship designed to prepare the next generation of leaders with an understanding of China’s role in global trends.

Ellington is UGA’s sixth Schwarzman Scholar. The incoming Class of 2022 was narrowed down from more than 3,600 applicants from China, the U.S. and around the world. It includes students from 39 countries and 99 universities.

Six classes of Schwarzman Scholars have been named since the highly competitive program opened to applicants in 2015. Scholars are taught by leading international faculty and pursue a fully funded, yearlong master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Students choose a focus of public policy, economics and business, or international studies.

An Honors student, Foundation Fellow and Stamps Scholar at UGA, Ellington is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Arabic with a minor in Spanish in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences in addition to a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business analytics in the Terry College of Business.

“The University of Georgia is proud to gain another Schwarzman Scholar,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Zakiyya is an outstanding example of the international reach of a UGA education as well as the many opportunities that our students have to develop business and leadership skills that will benefit them, their future organizations, and the world.”

Ellington intends to apply her talents, experiences and passion to advance social and economic equity for underserved communities in the Middle East and North Africa region through entrepreneurship. She aspires to work directly with ethnic minorities, refugees and migrants to assist them in growing sustainable startups.

She plans to later continue this work at a larger scale as a strategy expert, serving organizations with similar aims.

As a Schwarzman Scholar, Ellington’s concentration will be in economics and business. She plans to examine China’s approach to recent economic development and its impact on the socioeconomic status of underserved groups. As she translates these learnings to MENA contexts, she will build capabilities in marginalized communities to help them navigate appropriate development models and advance their social and economic empowerment.

“Zakiyya has been a delight to know and work with since I first met her when she was still in high school,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program. “Though Zakiyya obviously has a first-rate intellect, she is also an extremely kind and supportive person. Given all her gifts and promise, it is clear that Zakiyya will make a very positive impact on society.”

Ellington is a Sea Island Scholar and Presidential Scholar and received the Hostilo Family Scholarship in History. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies. She has interned as a summer business analyst for McKinsey and Company and has served as a Career Prep Fellow for Management Leadership for Tomorrow and a campus organizer for Food and Water Watch. She is an Honors Program teaching assistant, Athens Prison Tutorial volunteer tutor, Kickstart Fund partner, LEAD Fellow, Terry College of Business ambassador, Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity co-vice president of professional activities as well as a UGA Women’s Rugby Football Club student-athlete, treasurer and three-time team MVP. She was a Freshman Connect member of UGA’s Student Government Association.

An advanced speaker of modern standard Arabic, specifically in the Moroccan dialect, Ellington is also proficient in Spanish. She has studied abroad in Tanzania, Morocco and the United Kingdom.

“The Schwarzman Scholars program connects future global leaders, and that makes it a perfect fit for Zakiyya,” said Jessica Hunt, UGA’s major scholarships coordinator. “Zakiyya has proven to be an exceptional mentor to her fellow students and to budding entrepreneurs, and she has worked hard to promote diverse and inclusive workspaces and communities. She will no doubt do the same during her year in Beijing as a Schwarzman Scholar.”

UGA’s previous Schwarzman Scholars include UGA alumni Torre Lavelle (Class of 2017), Elizabeth Hardister and Gabrielle Pierre (Class of 2019), Swapnil Agrawal (Class of 2020) and Shaun Kleber (Class of 2021).

UGA’s major scholarships coordinator is housed in the Honors Program and works closely with students across campus as they apply for national, high-level scholarships. For more information, see online contact Jessica Hunt at

For more information on Schwarzman Scholars, visit