2016 Yenching Scholars
Nikita Ermakov

Nikita Ermakov

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Nikita Ermakov graduated from the Saint Petersburg University, Russia, where he completed his Master’s degree in Economics. His academic experience includes three years of studying at Ajou University and The Catholic University of Korea, where his classes were held in Korean. At the completion of his time in Korea he received a B.A. from Ajou University. Nikita is interested in sports and has also participated in competitions for his university swimming team. He has studied Chinese before, so he plans to improve his language skills and learn Cantonese. Nikita worked at the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Saint Petersburg as a marketing manager. He likes to work with an international team and develop business connections. His main research interests include: international marketing strategies in Asia and foreign direct investments to Hong Kong. At the Yenching Academy, he will continue to focus on investment policies of China and other East Asian countries.

Yagmur Ersan

Yagmur Ersan

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Yagmur Ersan received her B.S. degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey and also received her M.A. degree from the same university and department. Yagmur has worked on China-Africa relations within the context of South-South cooperation, and as a case study she focused on China-South African relations in her dissertation. She has worked at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), which is one of the largest and most well-known think tanks in Turkey. She has also studied Chinese at National Chengchi University in Taipei. Her main areas of interest are Chinese foreign policy, energy politics, and Asian affairs. At the Yenching Academy, she is focusing on Chinese Foreign Policy.

Hannah Feldshuh

Hannah Feldshuh

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Hannah Feldshuh graduated Phi Beta Kappa in April 2016 from the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts with high honors in Asian Language and Cultures and International Studies.  Her honors thesis, entitled “Gender, Sexism, And Marriage Practice in Contemporary China: A Study Of “Shengnü” (“Leftover Women”) In Popular Media” explored the impact of language on media representation, gender roles, power dynamics, and social control. As an undergraduate, Hannah interned at the United States Trade Representative China desk and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Simon Chair in Political Economy. As the Asia Regional Editor of the Michigan Journal of International Affairs, Hannah enjoyed working with peers to research, write, and edit articles analyzing international issues.  In summer 2016, she served as a Critical Language Scholar in Suzhou, China.  At the Yenching Academy, Hannah is excited to explore the intersection of language, popular media, and public policy.

Sofia Ferigolli

Sofia Ferigolli

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Sofia Ferigolli is an Italian student, born in Trento, who is completing a double-binational degree in International Relations between France (at Sciences Po Bordeaux) and Italy (at the Università degli Studi of Torino). Sofia has been enrolled in an English speaking master’s program in Bordeaux, which has no equivalent in France outside Paris, and which includes a semester at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, in Monterey, California. However, she deferred completion of this degree in order to study for a Master’s at the Yenching Academy of Peking University.  Sofia holds an Italian Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. In 2015, she presented a thesis regarding the International Dimension of Sport Practice, which focused on the process of rapprochement between China and the USA under the name of ping-pong diplomacy. The Franco-Italian program she is pursuing will provide her with four degrees: two Italian and two French. As she is focused on the field of diplomacy and international cooperation, she would like to pursue her studies at the Yenching Academy in the field of politics and international relations. Thus, her intention is to further investigate China’s public and foreign policy, which she has only slightly touched upon during her four previous years at university.

José Izquierdo Fernández

José Izquierdo Fernández

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José Izquierdo Fernández graduated from the University of Granada (Spain) where he studied political science and public administration. While studying politics, he felt increasingly interested in legal studies, and decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in law. In 2012 he was granted the Erasmus Scholarship to study European Union law and private international law at Yeditepe University (Istanbul, Turkey). The following academic year, thanks to the sponsorship of his home university, he went to the University of Toronto where he focused on political theory and the history of economic thought. He graduated from his bachelor’s in political science in 2014, receiving the “Award for Excellence in International Mobility”. After graduation he continued his legal studies with a focus in cross-border litigation, interning at the AGM–Paris law boutique. In the winter semester of 2015 he received the IES Abroad Scholarship to study Chinese language at Beijing Foreign Studies University, where he also worked as a data analyst for the technological start-up Flint App. Following this experience he accepted an admission offer from the Chinese Scholarship Council and moved to Shanghai in order to continue his studies of Chinese language and law at East China University of Political Science and Law. After graduating in law at the University of Granada in June 2016 he hopes to specialize in the Chinese market from a legal perspective. His ambition is to contribute to strengthening the economic ties between Europe and China, by facilitating the entry of small and medium-sized businesses into the large and complex markets of China. That is why, while at the Yenching Academy, he intends to deepen his knowledge on the Chinese legal framework, China’s regulatory environment, and its significance for foreign businesses, with a particular focus on Spanish and European companies.

Danit Gal

Danit Gal

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Danit Gal graduated with a BA magna cum laude in Government from IDC Herzliya, Israel, where she was a Ragonis Foundation Scholar, Argov Fellow, and MENA Leaders for Change Fellow. Danit also holds an M.Sc. in the Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford, where she focused on socio-technical aspects of cybersecurity.While at Oxford, she co-authored a UNESCO study on countering online hate speech and organized the annual Peking-Oxford-Stanford Internet Law and Policy Conference. Passionate about science, technology, and society, Danit will explore the diffusion of technological innovation in a hyper-connected China at the Yenching Academy.

Alexandra Gray

Alexandra Gray

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Alexandra Gray is from New Jersey, USA, and is a graduate of Stanford University. She majored in Political Science with a primary concentration in Comparative Government, and minored in Chinese and Creative Writing. Her study abroad experiences in China through the U.S. State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) in high school and Stanford’s Beijing program in Fall 2014, as well as her coursework on Chinese politics and culture, solidified her interest in Mandarin and China’s development as a nation through both international and domestic lenses. Having served as a Campus Ambassador at Stanford for the non-profit Teach for China and as a summer intern on the Asia Team of the international NGO Internews in 2015, she is particularly interested in how government or actors in civil society may address issues of social inequity. At Yenching Academy, she is pursuing the Law and Society track.

John “Jake” Grefenstette

John “Jake” Grefenstette

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John “Jake” Grefenstette was the president of his class, a Hesburgh-Yusko merit scholar, and a Dean’s Fellow in the Glynn Family Honors Program at the University of Notre Dame.  Jake spent his junior year as a visiting student at the University of Oxford before returning to graduate Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Theology from Notre Dame.  Jake received grants for each of his undergraduate summers to teach English in Chimbote, Peru; study Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan; and conduct research for his honors thesis in Cambridge, MA.  In the Philosophy and Religion concentration at the Yenching Academy, Jake intends to study the influence of Daoism on Chinese poetry and explore different methodologies in religious studies.  Outside of his discipline, Jake is interested in jazz piano, world cinema, and Pittsburgh sports teams.

Agustin Grizia

Agustin Grizia

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Agustin Grizia received his Bachelor in International Relations degree at Universidad del Salvador. He is twenty-two years old and is passionate about Chinese history, politics and international relations. Since his studies have been specially focused on East Asia, this last year he started working in a research group about Asia in the Social Sciences Research Institute (IDICSO). As a member of the second cohort of the Yenching Academy of Peking University, Agustin will learn about China and its role in international politics in preparation for a career in the Diplomatic Service of Argentina.

Claire Groden

Claire Groden

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Claire Groden studied government and Asian studies at Dartmouth College, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She was awarded the Mecklin Prize for best student writing in narrative non-fiction. Groden has worked for The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and Fortune in New York, writing primarily about business and politics. At the Yenching Academy, Groden will focus on China's recent economic development.