First Queen’s Alumna to Win Prestigious Chinese Scholarship

Heather Evans, Com'16

Heather Evans, Com’16, thrives in stressful situations. When she was a Commerce student, she successfully juggled school work with launching a 3D printing company, Mosaic Manufacturing, with four other students. She and her co-founders were recognized as the top venture in the 2014 Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative winning $40,000.

She beat long odds and is preparing for another heavy workload again as she puts her life on pause to head to China next year after receiving a prestigious scholarship.

Ms. Evans is one of 142 people selected from a field of more than 4,000 applicants from across the globe to receive a Schwarzman Scholarship. Inspired by the Rhodes Scholarships, Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the private equity firm The Blackstone Group, founded the program three years ago with an aim to promote international understanding. Mr. Schwarzman personally contributed over $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $500 million.

“It was the best feeling in the world. I cannot wait to move to Beijing. I think it will be one of the most interesting, intense, and craziest things I have ever done. The scholarship is extremely generous, so I have the freedom to stop working, pause my life and move to China for 11 months,” says Ms. Evans, who still has a small stake in Mosaic Manufacturing but is no longer involved in its day-to-day operations. Upon graduation from Queen’s, Ms. Evans launched a second startup through Canada’s Next36 and now works for the Government of Ontario in technology strategy. (She was very involved in the launch of Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence.)

Ms. Evans and the other Schwarzman scholars will live and study together for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of the top universities in China. All expenses are covered by the scholarship. 

She feels her year in China, which starts in August 2018, will be an amazing opportunity to learn about one of the world’s most powerful economies. That’s an important lesson for any entrepreneur.

“The Chinese culture and economy is completely foreign to me as someone who has grown up in Canada. Living in Beijing seems like one of the best ways to have a better understanding of how China operates,” says Ms. Evans, who was born and raised in Kingston.

When she started at Queen’s she didn’t feel like an entrepreneur. She is grateful that Greg Bavington, Sc’85, and Jim McLellan, Sc’81, PhD’90, of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) convinced her to do Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative and help teach her the tools to succeed in business.

“Heather is smart and a hard worker. These are the kind of people we look for at the Dunin-Deshpande Centre – people who have drive and curiosity. This is what makes successful entrepreneurs. I know she will do well in China,” says Mr. Bavington.

The Schwarzman Scholarship is attracting the highest calibre of people. First Lady Michelle Obama recorded a congratulatory message to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars and Chinese basketball star Yao Ming spoke at their commencement ceremony this summer.

“The people behind Schwarzman are betting it is going to be similar to the Rhodes Scholarships in about 30 years,” says Ms. Evans, who is the first person from Queen’s to get a Schwarzman Scholarship. “It’s exciting to be joining a program like this at the beginning.”