University life in China can sometimes be a thing of beauty. At other times, it can seem a bit apocalyptic. Regardless, more and more young Chinese than ever before are heading out and studying abroad to see what the rest of the world has to offer. Soon, this group will include the first-ever group of mainland students to become Rhodes Scholars.
These four high achievers beat out an applicant pool of over 12,000 hopefuls, 16 of which comprised China’s first set of applicants. Notably, three of the four recipients were women, reflecting China’s rising female university student population, recorded at 48% in 2014, according to a Yale report.
The scholars come from across the academic world, having interests in diverse fields. Here’s a quick look at four of China’s brightest young minds that could help to shape the future of the nation.
SCMP recently talked to Zhang Wanyu about her hopes to help China’s poor through her legal work. She grew up in a small village in Sichuan and she says her upbringing has inspired her toward a career in public service, helping the underprivileged with her legal knowledge.
“I want to study the roots of social injustice and find ways to solve it,” she says.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ren Naying talks about how she studies queer theory at the prestigious Tsinghua University. Ren also has a vision for the LGBT community in a changing China:
We need to establish protections for LGBT people to stop discrimination in the workplace and universities and in marriage. We need to raise awareness of gender. It’s very essential we do this from very early stage.
She says that the time she spent as an exchange student in the United Kingdom motivated her to bring change to the Chinese LGBT community by co-founding a network that connects organizations at universities all across the nation.
Gong Chenzhuo is a researcher of public diplomacy with volunteer experience in nearly thirty countries. On top of that he has also interned with the United Nations in Tanzania where he helped educate locals about HIV and gender equality.
He told the Telegraph that he plans to use his impressive international background to help out in his homeland. “My aim is to establish a nonprofit organisation to help rural students and disadvantaged groups in China,” he says.
Zhang Chunying, a journalism student at Columbia University via Nanjing, dreams of establishing a news outlet that shares the stories of China’s ordinary people in order to illustrate the country’s most urgent needs. “The lives of celebrities are too distant but the experiences of ordinary people are more relatable to others,” she says.
These winners were chosen not only for their achievements but also their hopeful outlook. Tang Meijie, the chief executive of the Rhodes Trust’s Chinese branch told China Daily, “All 16 candidates in the final round (were) outstanding… What makes these four more qualified is they actually believe this world will become a better place.”
By Matthew Patel
[Images via Sina]