Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Lehman Alumna Wins Prestigious Scholarship to Oxford University

April 14, 2011

Kunchok Dolma

If there's one thing that Kunchok Dolma knows, it's that hard work and perseverance really do pay off. A 2009 graduate of the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman, Dolma has won the highly coveted Clarendon Fund Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford, which has been a wish of hers since she was a small child.

The scholarship, which is given to the most academically able international graduate students, was awarded to fewer than seven percent of this year's applicants to Oxford. It covers tuition, fees, and living expenses for two years. Dolma plans to pursue a master's degree in international relations.

"I am very humbled and honored to be accepted," says Dolma, whose family is originally from Tibet. "I hope to live up to the expectations of my mother, my teachers, mentor, and my friends without whom this would not have been possible."

Dolma emigrated to the U.S. from Nepal in 2005 to live with her mother who had arrived ten years earlier. Soon after, she was referred to Lehman Professor Gary Schwartz, director of the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman. He encouraged her to take the SATs to see if she qualified for the highly selective program. Dolma was accepted and promptly embarked on an undergraduate career that included three separate study-abroad opportunities in England, Japan, and France.

As a sophomore, Dolma was accepted into the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship program, which brought her internships at the Media Relations Office of the United Nations Population Fund, the New York Supreme Court with Justice Yates, and finally with the Tibetan Government-in-exile in India, specifically working for the Department of Information and International Relations' Environmental Desk.

After graduating from Lehman summa cum laude, Dolma was awarded the New York City Urban Fellowship and, through the fellowship, took a position with the New York City Mayor's Office of Adult Education, where she worked on the "We Are New York" Community Leadership project. When she completed the fellowship, she was asked to stay on and today is the assistant director of the project. In this role, she coordinates recruitment and retention of sponsor sites and volunteers to lead conversation groups in English.

Dolma once said that she would like to be the first Tibetan woman to earn a Ph.D. in international law or international relations. While that's still a goal, she says she would ultimately like to work in a capacity that allows her to empower people to be their own leaders and support efforts that promote human rights and freedom of speech and religion. She will begin her studies at Oxford in the fall.