UIC alumnus named Knight-Hennessy Scholar

Wasan Kumar, a 2021 University of Illinois Chicago graduate, has been named a 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholar, joining a select group of students from around the world who will receive up to three years of financial support to pursue graduate degrees and global leadership development at Stanford University. 

Listen to story summary

The Knight-Hennessy program, with 90 scholars in what is only its seventh cohort, selects scholarship recipients based on a “demonstration of the independence of thought, purposeful leadership and a civic mindset.” Kumar is the first UIC-affiliated awardee. 

Kumar, from Skokie, Illinois, was an Honors College student at UIC and graduated from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and minors in public policy and global Asian studies. He is pursuing an MD/MBA at Stanford School of Medicine and Stanford Graduate School of Business.  

Kumar aspires to improve the quality and cost of health care by designing new technologies and influencing health policy. He has helped develop computational tools to improve clinical trial recruitment for rare diseases, reduce rates of hospital readmissions and increase early diagnosis of congenital cardiac conditions in low-resource settings. His writing on health economics has been featured in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and has influenced policy at both federal and state government levels. 

Wasan Kumar, a 2021 University of Illinois Chicago graduate, has been named a 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholar.
Wasan Kumar, a 2021 UIC graduate, has been named a 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholar. (Photo: Knight-Hennessy Scholars)

Kumar said he’s “humbled and honored” to be a part of the latest Knight-Hennessy cohort and credits his experience at UIC.  

“At UIC, I had the great opportunity to think about problems not just scientifically but also at a systems level, and that training has helped me tremendously throughout my short career,” he said. 

As a UIC student, Kumar was president of the Undergraduate Student Government and a health educator and leadership council member for UIC’s chapter of the Peer Health Exchange. He also worked on health policy as an intern for state Rep. Theresa Mah’s office.

Kumar’s achievements were recognized with several highly competitive honors during his time at UIC. In 2020, he was named the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate and earned a Newman Civic Fellowship for his commitment during his research and outreach experiences to finding solutions to challenges facing communities. He also was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship that year.  

His university honors included the Chancellor’s Service and Leadership Award and the Maurice Prize, an undergraduate innovation competition.

“I am very proud to see Wasan recognized for continuing along the path he started at UIC. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program recognizes change-makers and emerging leaders from around the world, and it’s wonderful to see Wasan represent UIC in this new cohort,” said Kim Germain, director of undergraduate research and external fellowships at UIC. 

UIC students and alums interested in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program can contact Germain at kgermain@uic.edu for application information. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email