David Morency '18 has won the globally-competitive Knight-Hennessy Scholarship for a three-year, full tuition and stipend award to Stanford University

David Morency ‘18 spent his formative years split between the U.S. and China, and he continued his education in Beijing upon graduating from Lehigh University. He was still in China during both the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the height of the U.S.-China trade war.

“It felt like my classmates and I were at the frontlines of global history for that time,” Morency said. “It was a truly unforgettable and formative experience.”

His upbringing, continued studies in China, and experiences at Lehigh have instilled in Morency a passion for public policy and research, as well as a long-standing desire to help foster entrepreneurship within a global framework. And now he will have an even greater opportunity to pursue those paths.

Morency has won the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship for a three-year, full tuition and stipend award to Stanford University. He is currently enrolled for a two-year MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and plans to apply for the Masters in Public Policy program in the future. The scholarship is very globally competitive, which only a 1.2% acceptance rate.

Morency feels his time at Lehigh helped prepare him for this honor and his other successes, particularly his experiences with Lehigh’s Integrated Business & Engineering (IBE) program, and the Martindale Student Associates Honors Program.

“These interdisciplinary and internationally-minded communities were core to my experience at Lehigh,” he said. “They provided the best foundation I could imagine for everything I’ve done since.”

Preparing for World Challenges

David Morency
David Morency

Morency was born in United Kingdom, but grew up in both the U.S. and China, and is fluent in Mandarin. This global upbringing fostered in him a very personal connection to global affairs in general, and particularly the relationship between China and the U.S.

He graduated from Lehigh with dual degrees in finance & industrial engineering, and afterwards studied at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he received a master’s degree in global affairs. He also received the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship, which is designed to prepare future global leaders to meet the geopolitical challenges of the 21st century.

“David has now won two of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world. My only regret is that he’s aged out of the Rhodes Scholarship!” joked Bill Hunter, Director of Fellowship Advising and UN Programs. “David is destined for greatness, and he’s well on the way.”

Morency is one of 90 students from 30 countries in this year’s cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. The prestigious scholarship is a multidisciplinary, multicultural graduate fellowship program that provides students financial support to pursue graduate studies at Stanford while engaging in experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders who address complex challenges facing the world.

“With each new cohort of scholars I am even more encouraged about the future,” said John L. Hennessy, Stanford University president emeritus and the Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. “The challenges our world faces are only growing more complex, which validates the importance of our mission here.”

Promoting Entrepreneurship in a Global Context

Morency has led China research for the Los Angeles-based global macro hedge fund Thiel Macro. Prior to that, he worked at a venture fund called Primavera Capital. He ultimately aspires to shape policies that help entrepreneurs – in the U.S., China, and around the world – collectively tackle global challenges.

“A lot of what these countries have done to push the boundaries of innovation grew out of thoughtful policy reforms in the 1990s,” he said. “My hope is to eventually serve in the public sector so that I can contribute to a new era of innovation-focused policy reforms that are better suited for the geopolitical realities of the 2020s.”

Morency credited Lehigh’s IBE program with helping him discover a love and respect for entrepreneurship, and said his experiences with the programs of Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) helped encourage his desire to pursue that passion on a global level.

“I think I’ve been trying to marry these two parts of my life ever since: thinking about how to promote entrepreneurship in an international context,” he said.

Morency spent two summers studying abroad through Lehigh. After his sophomore year, he traveled to Tel Aviv via the TAMID Fellowship program, and worked at a venture fund launched by the Israeli inventor of the USB flash-drive, Dov Moran.

Public Policy and Research

He also studied in the UK after his junior year via the Martindale Student Associates program, where he conducted research on the Bank of England’s regulation on cryptocurrency. His research, and the work of 11 other Lehigh students, would later be published at the end of our senior year.

“This experience really sparked my love for public policy and research, which has carried through until today,” he said.

Morency distinguished himself while at Lehigh. He represented the P.C. College of Engineering & Applied Science as a student speaker at the Lehigh’s 39th Honors Convocation. He also founded the CREATE Club, a student-led entrepreneurship group, and was one of the managers of the College of Business and Economics’ Thompson International Portfolio. 

Morency also received two merit scholarships as a Lehigh undergraduate: the Donald E. Flinchbaugh Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which is given to a rising senior who best exhibits potential and interest in technical entrepreneurship; and the Arthur F. (Pete) Veinott, Jr. Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to students in industrial and systems engineering.

Morency credited Hunter and the OFA team with helping him achieve those distinctions and contributing to set him on his current path: “I am so grateful that people there who know me well were available to help me reflect on life stories that I wanted to tell, many of which took place at Lehigh.”