Arts & Sciences student Robin Zhang ’18 has been named the inaugural Samuel R. Berger ’67 Intern at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), while the Samuel R. Berger National Leadership Scholars Fund will provide its inaugural scholarship aid beginning in Fall 2017. An accomplished expert in international relations and diplomacy, Samuel (“Sandy”) Berger served as White House national security adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001 before serving as co-chair of the global strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group along with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Once described by The New York Times as "the most influential national security adviser since Henry Kissinger," Berger also served as White House deputy national security adviser (1993-1997) and as deputy director of policy planning at the State Department (1977-1980). Berger was a government major at Cornell and his wife, Susan, and daughter Sarah are also Cornell alumnae.
With experience in more than 110 countries, ASG helps businesses, financial institutions, associations, and non-governmental organizations navigate political, commercial and social environments around the world. It’s that tie between politics and business that intrigues Zhang the most.
“For a long time my career goal has been to join the Foreign Service,” said Zhang, a double major in China and Asia-Pacific studies and economics. “Recently, however, I've realized I want a few years of experience in the private sector before pursuing government work and/or grad school, and I think a place like ASG will be the ideal bridge.”
Zhang studied in Beijing during the spring semester and worked several days a week in the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) office of the U.S. Embassy there.
“I really enjoyed the work (at FCS), which has many similarities with ASG's,” Zhang said. “I think it's unique appeal for me is that link between business and government —add in China to the mix, and it's exactly what I'm looking for.”
Zhang said many of ASG's employees have former experience in government, especially the Departments of State and Commerce — the two areas she is most interested in.
Although she doesn’t know specific details about her internship, she does know that she’ll be working with the firm’s China team. “It feels perfect because I've spent this entire year studying nothing but China, so it's great that I can put all that expertise to use,” she said.
“Sandy was as passionate about being a mentor as he was about the role of diplomacy in foreign policy,” said Dan K. Rosenthal, ASG’s managing principal. “ASG is honored to work with Sandy’s alma mater to provide Cornell students like Robin exposure to the commercial diplomacy work we do for our clients.”
Friends of Sandy Berger have also come together to establish the Samuel R. Berger National Leadership Scholars Fund to provide financial aid for eligible students majoring in either government or history in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Notes Sarah Berger Sandelius ’99, “my family and I are deeply honored to have my dad remembered in such generous ways. By removing or reducing financial obligations, we’re hoping that students who have demonstrated interests in government/history, community engagement, and service – all of his passions – will feel honored and encouraged to pursue careers in the public sector and ultimately, to make a real difference in the world around us. This is the legacy of which my dad – always Sandy to countless friends - would be most proud, and one that we want to ensure lives on in others.”
The endowment will provide its first Samuel R. Berger National Leadership Scholars awards in fall 2017. Alumni and friends of Sandy who may wish to honor him in his 50th Reunion year with contributions may obtain information on making gifts to Cornell at https://giving.cornell.edu/waystogive/.