North­eastern Uni­ver­sity senior Made­line Seibert has con­cen­trated much of her col­lege expe­ri­ence on studying China and its cul­ture, both through co-​​op and the Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram as well as by learning Man­darin. She has focused on sus­tain­ability and the envi­ron­ment, par­tic­u­larly through the lens of food waste and envi­ron­mental resource scarcity.

Last week, Seibert was named a Schwarzman Scholar, a pres­ti­gious pro­gram through which she will build upon this work. In August she’ll begin a year­long, fully funded master’s pro­gram at the Tsinghua Uni­ver­sity in Beijing.

She is one of this year’s 129 Schwarzman Scholars, who col­lec­tively rep­re­sent 30 coun­tries and 75 uni­ver­si­ties world­wide. The pro­gram, which is in its second year, was formed in response to the geopo­lit­ical land­scape of the 21st cen­tury and is “designed to pre­pare the next gen­er­a­tion of global leaders.”

I’m really excited about it,” said Seibert, who expects to focus on public policy in her grad­uate pro­gram, “and I’m thrilled to have the chance to go back to China.”

Ear­lier this year Seibert worked on co-​​op at the Nat­ural Resources Defense Council in Bei­jing, where she led an inde­pen­dent study doc­u­menting food losses and waste through Chi­nese supply chains, a project that included lit­er­a­ture reviews and on-​​the-​​ground inves­ti­ga­tions from farms to mar­kets. “I’ve done a lot of work on those issues,” said Seibert, who received a Pres­i­den­tial Global Schol­ar­ship for her co-​​op, “and this will be a great chance to get more tan­gible skills in inter­na­tional rela­tions and public policy to work on food sys­tems chal­lenges internationally.”

The dif­ferent study abroad pro­grams have been invalu­able, and co-​​op has enabled me to build on each expe­ri­ence in a new way. North­eastern is full of driven, action-​​oriented people, and that envi­ron­ment is infec­tious.
—Made­line Seibert, SSH’17

Throughout her time at North­eastern, Seibert has seized oppor­tu­ni­ties to chal­lenge her­self aca­d­e­m­i­cally, pro­fes­sion­ally, and per­son­ally. During her co-​​op in Bei­jing, Seibert—an avid bicyclist—began vol­un­teering at Bei­jing Bamboo Bicy­cles work­shops and soon had built her own bicycle out of bamboo. Another example: After taking French throughout high school and then teaching her­self Spanish, she began taking Man­darin classes her freshman year—an expe­ri­ence that ini­tially sparked her interest in China. “I took on Man­darin as a chal­lenge, in recog­ni­tion that I didn’t know any­thing about Asia when I came to col­lege,” she said.

Studying Man­darin, she explained, piqued her interest in learning more about China. Later, in summer 2013 she par­tic­i­pated in a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram to Bei­jing at Nan­jing Uni­ver­sity, where she studied busi­ness, pol­i­tics, and cul­ture. While on Dia­logue, Seibert’s group vis­ited the Nat­ural Resources Defense Council, an expe­ri­ence that inspired her to con­sider applying to work on co-​​op there. “As a North­eastern stu­dent, you always have your co-​​op radar on,” she noted.

Seibert added: “The dif­ferent study abroad pro­grams have been invalu­able, and co-​​op has enabled me to build on each expe­ri­ence in a new way. North­eastern is full of driven, action-​​oriented people, and that envi­ron­ment is infectious.”

In a letter rec­om­mending Seibert for the schol­ar­ship, Jonna Iacono, director of the Scholars Pro­gram and Office of Under­grad­uate Research and Fel­low­ships, wrote, “The recur­ring theme of Madeline’s coop­er­a­tive work expe­ri­ences, study and research, and vol­un­teer lead­er­ship is that she never treads water, never merely does what is asked, but always pushes the scope of her role and her orga­ni­za­tion for­ward, set­ting new bench­marks for effectiveness.”

Through her Schwarzman Scholarship, Madeline Seibert, SSH'17, will return to China, where she has already done global co-op and a Dialogue of Civilizations program. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Through her Schwarzman Schol­ar­ship, Made­line Seibert, SSH’17, will return to China, where she has already done global co-​​op and a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram. Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

Seibert is from Bed­ford, Mass­a­chu­setts, and in addi­tion to her global focus she has pur­sued var­ious oppor­tu­ni­ties related to the envi­ron­ment, sus­tain­ability, and food closer to home. She spent her first co-​​op working at GreenerU in Water­town, Mass­a­chu­setts, where she focused on com­mu­nity engage­ment and strategic plan­ning to pro­mote energy effi­ciency on col­lege cam­puses. On Northeastern’s campus she’s been active in stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions such as the university’s chapter of Part­ners in Health Engage, through which stu­dents sup­port the organization’s mis­sion of global health equity through advo­cacy, fundraising, and education.

Seibert also worked at the Roslin­dale Vil­lage Farmers Market, including for one year as its man­ager. During this time she led efforts to increase free pro­gram­ming and engage­ment with the com­mu­nity by adding new events and enter­tain­ment, non­profit ven­dors, com­mu­nity part­ners, and even art installations.

Seibert will finish her course­work at North­eastern this month, and in Jan­uary she’ll begin working part time as a writer for BeCause Water, a Boston-​​based social enter­prise. She’ll also con­tinue taking Chi­nese lan­guage courses before begin­ning her grad­uate pro­gram in August.

Seibert said that upon com­ple­tion of her grad­uate pro­gram, she’s inter­ested in pur­suing another master’s pro­gram in envi­ron­mental resource man­age­ment. She aspires to work for the Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion of the United Nations, in large part due to her first expe­ri­ence with the U.N. during a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram in Switzer­land in summer 2014. The dia­logue focused on researching dis­ar­ma­ment diplo­macy and human­i­tarian action, and during that time Seibert became the first under­grad­uate ever to tes­tify before the U.N. Mine Action Ser­vice when she spoke about the envi­ron­mental impli­ca­tions of mine disarmament.

This U.N. expe­ri­ence, she said—along with wit­nessing its formal processes and coali­tion building in action—left an impact on the young scholar. “Seeing those global processes of change was really exciting to me, and that’s a stage I will hope­fully find myself on again.”