2015 Yenching Scholars
Tobias Röcker

Tobias Röcker

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Tobias Röcker studied political science at the Freie Universität Berlin, and European studies at the University of Leuven. His thesis at Leuven provided a theoretical exploration of power dynamics in informal negotiations within the European Union. Tobias has a track record of volunteering with projects focusing on human rights, social innovation, as well as the foreign policy of China. 


Wadeisor Rukato

Wadeisor Rukato

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Wadeisor Rukato graduated from the University of Cape Town with a thesis focusing on the effects of international migration on development in Zimbabwe. Wadeisor is passionate about leadership and the role of innovation in growth and development, and she currently contributes to a social enterprise dedicated to supporting female-led startups in Africa. 


Mio Sato

Mio Sato

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Mio Sato studied media, culture, and international relations at Waseda University and Peking University. Mio’s academic work is fueled by her interest in how the media shape the character of different nations across East Asia. Mio organized many projects to promote positive Sino-Japanese relations, including a widely televised, large-scale music event in Beijing.


Mary Schulman

Mary Schulman

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A graduate of Princeton University, Mary Schulman is an aspiring academic committed to studying Chinese culture from an anthropological perspective. As an undergraduate, she translated one chapter of the Shangshu (尚书) from ancient Chinese into English.

Kevin Schwarzwald

Kevin Schwarzwald

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Kevin Schwarzwald graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Physics and Public Policy. A former Google Policy Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute in Washington DC, Kevin now works for a University of Chicago-based climate research center studying the drivers of long-term climate variability. Also a distinguished violinist, he recently performed on several pop and R&B recordings in Los Angeles.

Danila Simakhodskiy

Danila Simakhodskiy

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Danila Simakhodskiy studied international economy and finance in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Danila represented Russia at a number of international events focusing on finance, emerging markets, and institutional reform. While at the Yenching Academy, Danila pursued his interest in RMB internationalization and offshore RMB markets, as well as the Sino-Russian development dialogue.

Joanna De Smedt

Joanna De Smedt

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Joanna De Smedt holds a Master of Laws from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), where she specialized in Economic, International, and European law. During her master’s degree, she engaged in the prestigious Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and she placed 5th out of 550 teams worldwide. Joanna is fluent in Dutch, English, and French and has an intermediate level of German. At the Yenching Academy she pursued the International Relations and Politics concentration.

Laurent Smeets

Laurent Smeets

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Laurent Smeets graduated from Leiden University where his work focused on leadership strategies and the relationship between economy and democratization. Laurent took part in academic exchanges with McGill University and Fudan University, and was part of a student team who wrote about the role of the Netherlands in the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” initiative for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is an award-winning Model United Nations debater. 

Alice Su

Alice Su

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Alice Su graduated from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where she studied U.S. public diplomacy and Sino-Egyptian relations. Alice is a devoted journalist with a focus on refugees and religion. She has written for major news outlets reporting from the Middle East, work for which she received an award from the United Nations Correspondents Association.

Samri Tessema

Samri Tessema

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Samri Tessema studied political science at Stanford University with concentrations in international relations and comparative political systems, and specific interest in topics of development. She wishes to better understand China's growing role in the world not only in terms of trade and diplomacy, but to also become well-versed in the real time domestic social, economic and political themes that characterize the nation's current status and trajectory.