Two Stanford seniors named 2017 Yenching Scholars

Under the program, now in its third year, each student will earn a master’s degree in Chinese Studies at Yenching Academy of Peking University.

Stanford seniors Bradley Wo and Zhengyuan Ma have been named 2017 Yenching Scholars and will receive full scholarships for a one-year master’s degree in Chinese Studies at Yenching Academy of Peking University.

They are among the 105 students chosen from 45 countries for the program, now in its third year.

Yenching Academy, a residential graduate college at Peking University, offers a wide array of interdisciplinary courses on China within broadly defined fields of the humanities and social sciences. The scholars, who will work closely with academic mentors, create their own study programs leading to a Master of Chinese Studies degree, choosing from six academic concentrations and a variety of extracurricular activities.

Bradley Wo

Bradley Wo

Bradley Wo, of Honolulu, is majoring in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, with a minor in mechanical engineering. In his honors thesis, Wo is looking critically at international development and design thinking in India from a postcolonial lens, under the direction of Priya Satia, an associate professor of modern British history.

At Yenching, Wo plans to pursue a master’s degree in Chinese Studies with a concentration in law and society, and hopes to “further explore societal problems in China and the governmental and public response to them” in the program.

In his application for the scholarship, Wo wrote: “I envision using my time in the program to explore legal conditions of creating nonprofits in China, examples of successful corporate social responsibility in Chinese-owned businesses, and seeds for social entrepreneurship or philanthropic efforts.”

Wo cited the broad academic foundation that Stanford has helped him create as an important tool upon which he can build.

“I am grateful to my family and the opportunities that helped me reach this point, and look to this program as a way for me to define and refine my role in the intersection of development and China,” he said.

During his summers, Wo sought internships focused on social change. He has worked, for instance, with the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, the Behring Global Education Foundation in China, and as a Sand Hill Fellow for Philanthropy (a program of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford) for the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

At Stanford, Wo was active in the Asian American Students Association. He also served as a resident assistant in Okada House, an undergraduate residence with an Asian American cross-cultural theme.

Zhengyuan Ma, of Honolulu, is majoring in mathematical and computational science.

At Yenching, Ma plans to pursue a master’s degree in Chinese Studies with a concentration in economics and management. In his application, Ma said he hopes to become an economist of Asia grounded in the perspective of China.

“At Yenching I would have the unparalleled opportunity to study with Professor Yao Yang, the director of the China Center for Economic Research and a prolific commentator on the Chinese economy,” Ma wrote.

Zhengyuan Ma

Zhengyuan Ma

“My own dream is to walk, like Sun Yat-sen, [who is revered in both the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan as the “father of modern China”], as a bridge between China and the West, to bring together perspectives that will make a better world for all of us.”

Ma said his family history also served as an inspiration for his academic interests, especially the life of his grandmother, who still lives on the family farm in China. He noted that she is illiterate and has lived, in large part, as Chinese peasants have lived for millennia. During her lifetime she has also experienced war, revolution and economic boom times.

“I think about the breadth and diversity of human experience that my grandmother’s story, quite a common one China, shows us, and what it can teach me about my experiences with politics, with wealth and inequality, and with growing up as a Chinese-American,” Ma said.

“China is a huge repository to learn about both how people have dealt with social issues in the past and where the future is being created with regards to these issues. There’s no place I’d be more excited to be next year.”

At Stanford, Ma was active in the Asia-Pacific Entrepreneurship Society and founded Stanford O-Tone, an a cappella group focusing on East Asian popular music. Ma is a member of the Forum for American Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES), which is dedicated to promoting dialogue and fostering long-lasting relationships among future leaders in US-China affairs. He lives in Okada House.

International scholarships

Stanford students interested in overseas scholarships and Stanford faculty interested in nominating students for such awards should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at dmurk@stanford.eduBechtel International Center.