2 USC grads named Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Alums Jeremy Pathmanabhan and Héctor Reyes were awarded full-tuition scholarships to Stanford graduate programs. They’re the first Trojans to be named Knight-Hennessy Scholars.

May 06, 2021 Grayson Schmidt

Two USC graduates have been named Knight-Hennessy Scholars for the 2021-2022 year.

Jeremy Pathmanabhan, a 2016 graduate, and Héctor Reyes, a 2019 graduate, were awarded full-tuition scholarships to Stanford University graduate programs, a first for any Trojan since the program’s inception in 2016.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program prepares a new generation of leaders with a deep academic foundation and a broad set of skills to develop creative solutions to effect positive change in the world. Scholars come from all over the world, with students from the 2018 to 2020 cohorts holding passports from 43 different countries and having earned undergraduate degrees at 36 international and 65 U.S. institutions.

The Knight-Hennessy program focuses on leadership development, mentorship and immersive, interdisciplinary experiential learning. It was founded by benefactors including Nike co-founder and Stanford alumnus Phil Knight and is named after Knight and former Stanford President John Hennessy.

Pathmanabhan and Reyes were helped by experts at USC Academic Honors and Fellowships, who help Trojans seeking competitive fellowships and other prestigious programs by conducting mock interviews, reviewing essays and providing other advice.

Jeremy Pathmanabhan: Merging public and private toward a carbon neutral future

Pathmanabhan is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The Fremont, Calif., native graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering before earning his master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of California, Irvine. Since graduating from USC, he has worked for the city of Los Angeles, overseeing the inception and growth of the city’s Climate Action Program.

He said he plans to merge his public sector experience and MBA education to build a business that will advance society toward a carbon neutral future.

“If Los Angeles were to implement all the available green technologies we have today, to the fullest extent possible, we’d only reduce emissions by 50%,” Pathmanabhan said. “We need new climate solutions that bring together effective public policy, an understanding of human behavior and economic feasibility if we are going to reach our goal of carbon neutrality.”

For the past five years, Pathmanabhan has led the city of Los Angeles’ emissions estimates and progress reports, so he has a good understanding of some of the challenges that lie ahead on the path to carbon neutrality. He hopes to share his understanding of the hurdles the world faces in terms of carbon neutrality and learn from his fellow students and their perspectives.

“[I’m excited] to learn from my peers and hear about their experiences,” Pathmanabhan said. “It’s a rare opportunity to be able to learn from so many accomplished peers who are experts in their respective fields.”

Héctor Reyes: Amassing knowledge to fight for the people of Puerto Rico

Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Reyes began his college career at Valparaiso University as a student-athlete on the track and field team before transferring to USC in the fall of 2017. He said one of his proudest achievements in his academic career was teaching himself English, essentially the summer before going to college.

Reyes said he started watching movies and reading books to prepare himself for college in the United States. He turned out to be a pretty good teacher as he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics at USC, where he also served as a lab director managing a team of 20 research assistants at the Lab on Non-Democratic Politics in the School of International Relations at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Upon graduation, he became a fellow of the PhD Excellence Initiative at New York University and is pursuing a JD at Stanford Law School and a doctorate in economics at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences.

Reyes plans to serve and advocate for Puerto Rico by becoming a university professor, economic adviser and think-tank leader on the island. He developed an early interest in economics after witnessing his compatriots struggle to overcome Puerto Rico’s decadelong recession.

“A law degree from Stanford, in conjunction with my doctoral studies in the economics department, will give me the expertise and credibility to usefully serve and fight for the people of Puerto Rico,” Reyes said. “These application processes remind me of how passionate I feel about the Puerto Rican cause and how I will always do my best to aid my island.”