Bridge builder

December 10, 2021


Griffin Trau, a 2018 graduate, recently received a prestigious Schwarzman Scholar award to study U.S.-China relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He was among 151 international scholars, among 3,000 who applied, selected for the year-long global affairs program that begins in August 2022.  

“In a changing U.S.-China relationship, the program champions educational and cultural diplomacy,” Trau said. “Schwarzman aims to equip scholars with the experiences, knowledge, and connections to lead in a diverse and evolving global environment.”

At Richmond, Trau gave new meaning to “student-athlete,” excelling as a kicker for the football team and in academics with a full class load. Besides setting school and conference records, he earned FCS All-America first-team honors from the Associated Press his sophomore year.

During the summers, Trau studied abroad in New Zealand and the Czech Republic, also called Czechia. In January 2018, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, double majoring in international studies and leadership. Later that year, he spoke at commencement for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, graduating summa cum laude with a master of liberal arts.

“Griffin is undaunted by challenges that would discourage many, as a student in the classroom and in life more broadly,” said Mary Finley-Brook, associate professor of geography and the environment. “When Griffin’s commitments and schedule as a student athlete prevented him from applying for a standard study abroad during normal semesters, he designed a unique summer program with the New Zealand Institute of Sport that would merge two of his passions — international cooperation and sports. I remember in particular Griffin’s insights on how Maori people he met suggested that the Institute honor and recognize their sporting influences, which was a stated goal of the Institute.”

After graduation, Trau returned to the Czech Republic and taught English as a U.S. Fulbright grantee. In September 2020, he became an analyst for Deloitte Consulting’s Government and Public Services practice in Arlington. As the policy lead for a federal agency's COVID-19 pandemic response team, Trau pores over news, technical literature, and data to prepare briefings and spark policy initiatives.

Next summer he’ll bring his wide-ranging skills to China. The long-running Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford inspired Blackstone Group chairman and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman to establish the Schwarzman Scholars in 2015. The scholars study for a master of global affairs degree at Tsinghua University and experience cultural immersion to gain a better understanding of China.

“Griffin is the epitome of a Schwarzman Scholar,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “He seeks to understand interactions of governments and people across cultures, driving to become a leader in bridging these divides.”