Talk about keeping his eyes on the prize, Trevaughn Latimer is en route to a master’s degree in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Chinam as a member of the Schwarzman Scholars class of 2022.
Latimer was selected as one of 154 — out of 3,600 applicants — to receive the prestigious honor based on his academic excellence, exceptional results in his chosen field, and his outstanding leadership skills.
The program is a fully-funded, one-year master’s degree program at the university. It will provide him with the opportunity to immerse himself in an in-depth study of China’s global affairs, rich culture and innovative commerce.
“China is already a major economic and geopolitical superpower that will determine the trajectory of much of the world in the 21st century,” Latimer said in response to questions from the St. Louis American.
“China will eventually become the world's largest economy and much of the developing world will become increasingly dependent on China for their own development and prosperity.
Understanding China will become more and more necessary in the years to come for the majority of the world's job sectors and I wanted to start learning as early as possible.”
Over the last few decades, Latimer said China has had a substantial impact on moving millions of citizens out of poverty.The nuances of Chinesepolicy and economic development strategies toward alleviating poverty inspired Latimer to study its methods. He also wants to compare Chinese and American urban and rural communities including St. Louis and other parts of the United States. He wants to learn about how the issues there compare to communities such as north St. Louis and north St. Louis county.
“In an increasingly globalized world, I think it's important for communities everywhere to understand the tactics being used in different places around the world, to see if there are any points of possible application to their own situations,” Latimer said.
In 2019, he studied the Chinese language in his last year at Loyola University, and found it wasn’t as difficult as most people think. However, he intends to work on becoming fluent with the language, or at least functional.
“I want to be able to travel around China speaking their native language because Mandarin will become a more prominent language in the future,” Latimer said. “I plan to restart my studies in 2021 before I head out to Beijing in August.”
His major in economics during his third year at Loyola University, Chicago allowed him the opportunity to study abroad in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for four months. While there, he interned at a shelter that housed 15 boys.
“The other interns and I identified some challenges the shelter was facing and were able to start a non-profit dedicated to facilitating American donations to that particular shelter and similar shelters like it,” Latimer said. “We were able to provide over $2,500 in aid.”
As a Lead for America Hometown Fellow at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Latimer has been exposed to many community economic development projects occurring across the region. One of the projects he’s been given access to is a redevelopment initiative in Pine Lawn.
“I was selected as project lead for a redevelopment initiative in the City of Pine Lawn, liaising between different agencies and technical assistance providers to provide the city with resources it needed to assess how to attract investment along the Natural Bridge corridor,” Latimer said. “I was also able to provide significant strategic assistance in disseminating a few million dollars in relief grants and loans to small businesses struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
At the start of the pandemic in March, the St. Louis County Executive Sam Pageannounced the formation of the Economic Rescue Team government board, which consisted of community members, to advocate and advise Page on how to divert some of the funds St. Louis County received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — CARES. Latimer, 23, was named one of the youngest appointees on that board.
“I sat on the Minority and Immigrant Owned Small Business committee to think through how minority and immigrant-owned small businesses could be supported by the county government,” Latimer said.
“I was able to assist in developing a survey to gauge small businesses needs and ideas with other members on policy interventions that could help ensure access to resources made available during the pandemic. I was also able to learn greatly from experienced business and civil society leaders with years of experience in community and business development. I am so appreciative of the experience.”
Latimer’s family, especially his mother, Dionna Latimer, has been very supportive of him and all of his international plans and endeavors.
“My family supports me in whatever I pursue,” Latimer said. “I consider that a true blessing because I've definitely told my mom some of my future plans that have probably sent her into a worried fright, but she's never discouraged me. Instead she has encouraged me when I've thought my dreams and desires were a little too much.”