Upon graduation this May, Me Me Khant will leave Centre College for Stanford University, where she’ll pursue a master’s degree in international policy as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.
Khant is Centre’s first recipient of this prestigious award, which provides full funding not just for tuition, room, board, and books but also academic supplies, instructional materials, travel to Stanford, local transportation and personal expenses.
In addition to summer funding, Khant will also have access to leadership development, mentorship and experiential learning opportunities.
Competition to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar is fierce. Last year, Stanford reported receiving more than 4,500 applications. Khant is one of 85 recipients this year.
Having seen her development over the last four years, Centre College President John Roush is not surprised by Khant’s selection.
“Me Me is yet another example of Centre’s work to prepare global citizens ready to make a significant impact on the world,” he said. “I am confident that her work at Stanford will positively complement the foundation she has established here at Centre.”
A native of Myanmar, Khant is a graduate of the Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon, from which she earned a certificate in the liberal arts.
Khant came to Centre in 2016 as a member of the inaugural class of Lincoln Scholars and will graduate this May with a major in international studies, with a concentration in international relations, and a minor in French.
The Lincoln Scholars Program attracts talented students from across the globe who have the deep desire and capacity to change the world. Ten scholars are selected annually to receive a full-tuition-plus scholarship that also provides for summer enrichment experiences.
For Khant, this included three unique opportunities.
In the summer of 2017, she worked as an ESL tutor in Guatemala through the nonprofit organization Camino Seguro, or Safe Passage, then a year later interned with the European Union (EU) Delegation in her native Myanmar. As part of this experience, she was able to witness the trial of Reuters journalists who were arrested while reporting on the killing of a number of Rohingya Muslims, a minority ethnic population.
This past summer, Khant interned in Beijing as an investment banking analyst with JFP Holdings, which allowed her to see firsthand the impact of national and international trade policies on the business climate in that country, especially regarding the trade war between China and the United States.
Looking to her future, Khant said that, five to 10 years from now, she hopes to become a policymaker in Myanmar.
“There are many challenges in my home country, especially in areas of peace, stability and development,” Khant observed, “but there is not enough human capacity to effectively tackle these issues. I want to contribute to making positive change, promoting peace and reconciliation efforts.”
Khant began that work even before coming to Centre, as the founder and lead organizer of the Model Myanmar Parliament Project, the first-ever educational simulation of the Myanmar House of Nationalities of the Assembly of the Union. She served as the House Speaker during the simulation hosted at Yangon Technological University.
Khant was enthusiastically supported in her Knight-Hennessy application by Robert Schalkoff, director of the Lincoln Scholars Program, who also coordinates Centre’s advising for national fellowships.
“This is an amazing accomplishment for Me Me and one that perfectly fits her talents and goals,” Schalkoff said. “She has the potential to be the type of global leader Knight-Hennessy aims to develop and she exemplifies its primary selection criteria: independent thinking, purposeful leadership and a civic mindset.”
Besides her academic pursuits, Khant has worked as house manager for the Norton Center for the Arts, has been a residence assistant, and is currently a residence director, the first international student to hold this position. She has also participated in student government, is a member of the Centre College Dance Team, was a junior marshal and is a member of the Paul W. Chellgren Investment Society, a student organization that manages its own portfolio.
While she has excelled in all her course work, Khant admits it’s difficult to choose among her favorites. Above all, she is grateful for the range of classes she has been able to take.
For instance, Khant said she will remember fondly Molecular Modernism: Manet to Marc with Jeff Fieberg, American Foreign Policy with Dina Badie, International Trade with Ravi Radhakrishnan, and all the French classes she has taken, especially Unlocking Paris with Allison Connolly. In particular, she said that her senior seminar, taught by Lori Hartmann, “really broadened my perspectives and challenged me intellectually.”
Schalkoff looks forward to staying in touch with Khant, for whom he has high expectations.
“Me Me is truly someone who will, in the spirit of the Lincoln Scholars and Knight-Hennessy programs, change our world for the better. She never shies away from doing what she feels is right, noble and just.”
A full list of the 2020 cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars is available here.
by Michael Strysick
March 5, 2020