How the Georgetown Scholarship Program made a ‘phenomenal difference’ in the college experience of a brilliant young scholar
Zachary Kay (F’16) came to Georgetown knowing he wanted to study international relations, and during four years on the Hilltop, he made the most of every opportunity: completing an honors thesis in international political economy, holding a research assistantship with the Federal Reserve Board, working as an analyst with Citi, and securing a full-time job offer from a New York hedge fund.
And, in what he describes as “the icing on the cake” of his Georgetown career, Kay was selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, earning a prestigious graduate fellowship that will fund his master’s degree in economics and business at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
“It’s the perfect chance for me to broaden and deepen my knowledge of international financial markets,” he says. “When an opportunity like this presents itself, you just have to grab it. It’s just the type of opportunity that I came to Georgetown looking for.”
Making the Most of Campus and Beyond
Kay views his research assistantship at the Federal Reserve Board, which he held for three years, as the centerpiece of his Georgetown career – and he found it through his in-class experience. After completing an international finance course in his second semester, Kay approached the professor to discuss places to find research work. “I asked him if he needed a research assistant, expecting a campus job – and that’s when he told me I’d been a great student, and he’d love to have me work with him [at the Federal Reserve Board]. I was ecstatic.”
“Working at the Fed has led me to every major opportunity I’ve had to build my career,” Kay continued. “It is the kind of exceptional experience I could only get at Georgetown, because my professor for international finance also happens to work as an economist at the Federal Reserve. Where else could that happen?”
Uncommon Opportunities, Remarkable Students
Kay’s life on the Hilltop has not been singularly focused on his career. In addition to being a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon Foreign Service Fraternity, he takes part in the Carroll Fellows Initiative, Georgetown’s flagship opportunity for its most academically talented and ambitious undergraduates. He credits that program with feeding his intellectual growth. “It has taught me how to think critically, how to analyze conversations and arguments, and how to recognize bias in my own ideas. It has changed the way I think,” he said.
For Kay, his peers are Georgetown’s most important resource. “We have stellar faculty, a wonderful location, and uncommon opportunities—but the quality of students is truly spectacular. I’ve learned so much in class, but I’ve learned even more from my classmates,” he said.
“I cannot say enough about my peers in the School of Foreign Service. We are men and women for others, and we live that every day. The people I’ve met here and the friends that I’ve made – these people will stay with me long after Georgetown and for the rest of my life. I’ve met my best friends here.”
Choosing the Hilltop
Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Kay watched his parents, neither of whom had been able to go to college, struggle with finances and it taught him an important lesson. “I knew I would need something I could always rely on. For me, that meant education—a college degree.”
When the time came, Kay applied to more than a dozen colleges, but Georgetown was at the top of his list. “It was my first choice because I wanted to study international relations, and I knew there was no better place to do it than Georgetown.”
But a second factor was almost as important as the first for Kay, and that was financial aid. “My list was 100% determined by the schools that offered need-based aid. If a school did not offer that, I was not applying.”
Another school at the top of Kay’s list, Princeton, offered him an outstanding aid package, but the generosity of Georgetown’s meet-full-need financial aid package enabled Kay to make the decision his heart wanted. He received the Emily Chen Carrera John Carroll Scholarship and the Alvarez Memorial Scholarship.
Unparalleled Support from the Georgetown Scholarship Program
“[GSP] really helps you fill in the gaps so you can worry less about money and focus on making the most of your time here. It makes a phenomenal difference.”
Turning down Princeton and arriving on the Hilltop, Kay then discovered the Georgetown Scholarship Program, which was a game-changer for his time on campus.
Kay believes that supporting GSP programs is a particularly important way to impact the lives of students on financial aid. “I received wonderful scholarship support, for which I am truly grateful,” he said. “GSP builds on that and takes it a step further. A scholarship is an investment in a Georgetown student’s future, and GSP then goes that extra mile.”
“GSP is a program that makes Georgetown special. I’ve never heard of this kind of support at another school,” he added. “The level of support it offers is unparalleled, and GSP helps you cover many types of expenses that regular scholarships don’t. It really helps you fill in the gaps so you can worry less about money and focus on making the most of your time here. It makes a phenomenal difference.”
During his first visit to Georgetown, on a college visit with his mom, Kay knew immediately that the Hilltop was a special place. “We sat under the tree on Copley Lawn and just soaked it all in,” he says. “Something about it spoke to me, and it felt like home. I’m very grateful to everyone who enabled me to come here, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”