Four students from the Chinese mainland win Rhodes Scholarships

Four students from the Chinese mainland have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. 

Qi Lei, Jia Wan, Ziyi Wang and Tianyi Wu comprise an all-female sixth batch of fellows with an exceptional track record of leading crucial humanitarian projects. They will join a group of 100 Rhodes Scholars selected from all over the world at the University of Oxford next year.

"Cultivating a diverse and vibrant mainland China Scholar community is very important for the Rhodes Trust," said Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, CEO of the trust. "As we plan to double the number of scholars from China in the next five years, these scholars will certainly be an important part of our present and our future."

She announced on Tuesday that the number of fellowships would be doubled by 2025 to ensure extensive participation.

The Rhodes Trust started shortlisting four students from China annually for the scholarship in 2016.  

"I am beyond honored to be listed as one of the Rhodes Scholars 2020," Qi Lei from Peking University told CGTN. "The pandemic encourages us to think of ourselves as belonging to a collective, and in the contagion, we rediscover ourselves as part of a single organism. I can't wait to continue inspiring young girls and be inspired by those around me."  

Qi helps vulnerable groups excluded from the technology revolution and gained experience in this field with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Jia Wan from Columbia University built a mathematical model to measure contact tracing in testing efficiency. She also proposed an optimal allocation scheme for testing facilities to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.  

Ziyi Wang, a graduate student at Stanford, analyzes historical perspectives on Sino-American relations. An elite golfer, she competed for the Chinese national golf team and was the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament in China.

Tianyi Wu, a Jardine Scholar at the University of Cambridge, helped facilitate policy consultation on China-Africa cooperation and aid at the China-Africa Development Fund and at China's Ministry of Commerce.

"This pandemic tested our resolve, our resilience, and our resourcefulness; our scholars and scientists have shown both intellectual humility and fearlessness in the field of international development," she said.

"I am very much looking forward to joining this empowering and inclusive community, ready to learn, to grow and to serve for a greater cause." 

The Trust selects 100 students from all over the world after a rigorous selection process. The panel looks for exceptional achievements and a "commitment to solving humanity's challenges as some of the criteria for selecting scholars."

In the past, Rhodes Scholars from the Chinese mainland pursued careers ranging from technology and artificial intelligence to journalism. Several of them have decided to study for PhDs in law, statistics and psychiatry at the University of Oxford and other top institutions worldwide, said a statement from the Rhodes Trust.

The selection process for the world's oldest graduate fellowship was completed when the world is dealing with a pandemic with travel restrictions imposed to control coronavirus transmission.

"The coronavirus pandemic health and safety measures presented Rhodes House with an opportunity to view our selection process with new eyes," Kiss said.

Cover Image: (From L to R) Qi Lei, Tianyi Wu, Zyi Wang and Jian Wan win the Rhodes Scholarship 2020 to pursue higher education at the University of Oxford. /Rhodes Trust

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