After graduating as the youngest member of the Class of 2016, 21-year-old NYU alumnus Azizjon Azimi was recently accepted into the first cohort of Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars.
The Knight-Hennessy Award provides full funding for a variety of graduate programs at Stanford, as well as dual and joint-degree programs.
Azimi was one of 49 students admitted from the applicant pool of 3,600 students. The program was established in 2016 and boasts an endowment of $750 million, the largest of any fully endowed scholarship program in the world, according to a press release.
Azimi is pursuing a concurrent degree program at Harvard and Stanford and will split the next three years between the two schools. In that time, he plans to receive both a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
During his time at NYU, Azimi was the youngest degree-holding graduate in the Class of 2016. He cites his most memorable experience as getting to carry the torch at graduation.
At the moment, Azimi is working on a startup platform called YouPol at the Harvard Innovation Lab.
“[YouPol] would bridge the gap, allowing voters to see who the candidates are and engage in voter discussion between themselves before the election,” Azimi said. He plans to launch YouPol this summer before the November midterm elections.
While he was finishing two honors degrees at NYU and leading NYU Model United Nations, Azimi formed Tajrupt, a non-profit non-governmental organization that provides youth in Azimi’s home country of Tajikistan with resources to connect their education with civic engagement.
“A key element I took away from NYU, both academically and extracurricular-wise was the element of critical thinking,” Azimi said. “What is lacking in Tajikistan? The government sets the curriculum for education, completely from middle school to university level. We need to create a platform for students to engage in after school programs like Model UN and teaching girls about gender empowerment. Tajrupt is rooted in the word ‘disrupt,’ and our goal was to disrupt educational landscape in Tajikistan.”
Azimi runs Tajrupt with fellow NYU alumnus Stephen Caputo, NYU Abu Dhabi alumnus Gulnoza Masur and current NYU student Areesha Irfan.
Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy criteria includes independence of thought, purposeful leadership and a civic mindset, according to its website. Once scholars have applied and are selected as finalists, they participate in Immersion Weekend.
Azimi said the NYU Office of Global Awards’ Assistant Director Kris Larsen was extremely helpful throughout the process that preceded Immersion Weekend. As Azimi mentioned a video, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett, it is helpful for those reflecting on past experiences to come up with future goals.
In reflecting on his own past, Azimi says his application stood out because he wasn’t afraid to take risks.
“I had work experience both in consulting and in the UN, but I took the risk of going back to my home country and launching my nongovernmental organization,” Azimi said.
Email Sabeena Singhani at [email protected]