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Sharon Du selected as a 2022 James C. Gaither Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Each year hundreds of colleges and universities put forward nominees to the national fellowship program, which offers graduating seniors or recent graduates the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Carnegie’s senior scholars in Washington, D.C. Du has been selected for Carnegie’s Asia Program, focusing on China-U.S. relations.

Two things stood out to senior Sharon Du about the James C. Gaither Junior Fellowship: First, it was an academic and professional opportunity open to international students, unlike many U.S.-based fellowships that are exclusive to U.S. citizens. Second, Du, who uses both they/them and she/her pronouns, was excited about the opportunity to continue their research on Chinese governance through the fellowship, and looks forward to exploring the more public-facing work carried out by the Carnegie Endowment.

Sharon Du, a 2022 James C. Gaither Junior Fellow, was selected for Carnegie’s Asia Program, focusing on China-U.S. relations. (Image credit: Sharon Du)

Du’s interest in international relations stems from their own background: a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand, they lived in China as a child and studied abroad in the United States. They cite hardening authoritarianism in China’s domestic policy and growing xenophobia in the West as driving motivators for their interest in China-U.S. relations. Du hopes to continue working on these topics at Yale, where they will begin graduate studies in 2023, pursuing a dual J.D./M.A. with Yale Law School and Yale’s Center for East Asian Studies.

Du looks forward to learning more about the role of think tanks in U.S. policymaking and is excited for the opportunity to collaborate with other fellows and scholars. Given their rural Chinese background, Du felt a lack of cultural capital for much of their time at Stanford; however, this difference has made their selection into this competitive program all the more meaningful. Du said, “I’m just excited by the fact that I gained enough confidence to even apply for something like this, as I never would’ve had the conviction back in freshman year, or sophomore year.”

To other students who may be interested in applying for the Gaither fellowship, Du has this advice: “It’s important to apply even if you don’t feel confident, particularly if you’re from a structurally marginalized background. Challenging experiences naturally make people doubt themselves more, but you might be surprised by the outcome!”

More information about Stanford’s campus competition for the Gaither Junior Fellowship nomination can be found on the Undergraduate Research website. Applications are due in early November.