Christopher Benos, a third-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law, will pursue a master’s degree in global affairs at Beijing’s Tsinghua University as a Class of 2023 Schwarzman Scholar.
Among the most competitive and prestigious graduate fellowships in the world, the Schwarzman Scholarships were created in 2013 by businessman Stephen Schwarzman, who modeled them on the Rhodes Scholarships. The program, housed in Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, fully funds participants’ expenses for graduate study in China, including travel costs and a personal stipend.
“I am humbled by the chance to join an incredible group of leaders, scholars and global citizens,” Benos said. “And I cannot express my gratitude enough to the family members, faculty mentors and friends who made this journey possible. The University’s support of its students is truly unmatched.”
Benos said he wants to study Chinese political and legal institutions to one day apply those lessons domestically, first in his hometown and then at the national level. As a Schwarzman Scholar, he will also immerse himself in Chinese culture, philosophy and music, he said, and “serve as an ambassador for American law.”
He aspires to a career in which he can improve international relationships.
“Our nations need ambassadors in law and politics who understand our differences, celebrate our common goals and cultivate a transformational partnership,” Benos said. “The Schwarzman program uniquely positions me to be one such leader as we work to build a more just, more equitable and more peaceful world.”
After graduation, he will clerk for Judge D. Brooks Smith of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2023 term.
At UVA Law, Benos served on the managing board of the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law and on the submissions review board of the Journal of Law & Politics, as a Legal Writing Fellow, as an Appellate Litigation Clinic participant and as a research assistant for Professor Micah Schwartzman ’05. Benos spent his summers working at the Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center and at Sullivan & Cromwell.
“Christopher is super-talented, and it’s hard to imagine someone who would be a better cultural and political ambassador for our University and for the commonwealth of Virginia,” Schwartzman said.
Benos, of Midlothian, Virginia, earned a degree in the Honors Program of the Department of Politics and also majored in French at UVA. He was a Jefferson Scholar, Echols Scholar, Coca-Cola Scholar, Lawn resident, recipient of the MAAS Essay Prize Grand Prize and T. Braxton Woody Award, and is a member of the Raven Society. He served on the UVA Honor Committee throughout his undergraduate years and now serves as its appeals chair. Benos received the Class of 1984 Scholarship at UVA Law.
Benos has also released three albums of original piano music.