Courtney Gehle selected as prestigious Schwarzman Scholar

Posted on June 14, 2023

Courtney Gehle, a UP alumna who graduated with a BSc in Geography in 2016, was recently selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, one of the most prestigious postgraduate fellowships in the world. She is only the fifth South African, the second from UP, and the only one of the 2023/2024 cohort selected from over 3 000 applicants.

“Being selected as a Schwarzman Scholar and studying towards a master’s degree at Tsinghua University in China will grant me the opportunity to marry two important fields of knowledge - environmental science and global affairs, to be a more impactful development professional,” an elated Courtney said when sharing the news.

Quoting from the Schwarzman Scholars website, scholars are selected for demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, integrity, academics, intercultural competency and entrepreneurial spirit. “Looking back, these qualities were either instilled or developed through my time at UP. In addition, I received exceptional support from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS)while studying here. NAS even supported my participation in the Paris Climate negotiations in 2015.”

Courtney explained that she gained an essential set of skills that allowed her to understand and engage with global challenges through the lens of the physical and social sciences. Combining this knowledge with an understanding of politics, economics and international relations that I will receive through a master’s in Global Affairs, as well as with the leadership skills that are a central tenant of the Schwarzman Scholarship programme, will allow me to be more effective in playing my part to solve global development challenges.

She is also Co-founder of The Better Tomorrow Movement - an award-winning organisation providing free interactive training programmes that help young people create, execute and scale social impact projects. Courtney also found The Greenline, a youth-led environmental organisation, has worked with over 600 volunteers to raise awareness and act on environmental issues. “Though I am no longer involved, both organisations continue to serve young people.”

“I am completing a Master’s in International Development in Ireland as a recipient of the Government of Ireland International Education Scholarship, and serve as the Chairperson of the Board of Brightest Young Minds (BYM). It is a registered NPC in South Africa that works to connect young leaders and facilitate developing skills and designing solutions that positively impact Africa. Before this, I served as a Manager at Global Changemakers and as a short-term consultant at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

For her work, Courtney has been recognised by organisations such as the European Commission, UNESCO and the U.S. State Department. As a result, she concluded that the research I aim to undertake would focus on developing a programme that will provide grants and investment for youth-led sustainable development initiatives across Africa.

- Author Martie Meyer

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences