2016 Yenching Scholars
Jullian Bao

Jullian Bao

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Jullian Bao is originally from Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Statistics. Last summer, Jullian received a Fulbright Summer Institute Fellowship to study British literature at King’s College London. In Chicago, Jullian was actively engaged in her school’s Model UN organization and served as the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Councils. She also edited a Model UN publication for the Middle East circuit. At the Yenching Academy, Jullian will study Public Policy and International Relations. She hopes to gain a more nuanced understanding of China’s diplomatic relations and economic growth.


Sasha Benincasa

Sasha Benincasa

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Sasha is a Columbia University graduate who hails from Vero Beach, Florida. During his final year of high school, he participated in a year-long immersion and homestay experience program in Beijing, China, where he attended Beijing No. 2 High School through the School Year Abroad (SYA) program. Upon returning, Sasha chose to pursue a double major in East Asian Studies and Russian Language and Culture. At Columbia University Sasha was active with the Undergraduate Law Review, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, and Men’s Rugby team. In fall of his senior year of college he was selected to work in Moscow, Russia, for the U.S. Department of State. Sasha has also interned at law firms in South America and Florida and is concentrating in Law and Society while at Yenching Academy. He speaks English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese.

Olivia Bergen

Olivia Bergen

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Originally from the United States, Olivia Bergen graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi in 2015 with a major in political science and a minor in East Asian studies. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester and winter term in Shanghai studying Chinese language, politics, and education and wrote a senior thesis on gender and campaign finance in U.S. elections. She also taught and carried out research at NYU Shanghai on a year-long Global Academic Fellowship. As a Yenching Scholar, is concentrating in Politics and International Relations, where she is focusing on women’s political participation and leadership in China. She aspires to a career in NGOs and IGOs that engage citizens in the political process worldwide.

Jesse Bowens

Jesse Bowens

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Jesse Bowens graduated from the University of California, Berkeley – Haas School of Business in 2016. She transferred to Berkeley Haas as a junior from Las Positas College, where she was the 2014 Student of the Year. As a Business Administration major, she chose to focus her studies in the area of accounting, with aspirations to become a Certified Public Accountant. She was selected as an Emerging Accounting Scholar and will work full-time for Deloitte & Touche LLP upon completion of her studies. She entered the Yenching Academy to pursue a Master’s Degree in China Studies with a concentration in Economics and Management. She is fascinated by the interrelated roles of businesses that comprise an economy and the impact on society from economic regulations. She is particularly interested in learning about business operations within China, as it is an economic giant that also places a societal emphasis on community. Having worked as a Scholarships Coordinator for the Berkeley Student Foundation and Cohort Leader for the Haas Cohort Program, Jesse is a community leader who seeks to find an ideal balance between individualism and team-based efforts.


Diana Chang

Diana Chang

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Diana Chang is from the United States. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University, where she studied Art Theory and Practice and Biology, with a concentration in neurobiology. Her grandparents, practicing artists of historic and traditional Chinese art forms—landscape painting and calligraphy—heavily influenced her early interest in art. As such, her interests in China are deeply tied to the country’s artistic traditions and culture. She hopes to better incorporate this type of understanding with economic and medical frameworks to shape a more effective future for international health policy. With a focus on rural populations in China and the greater East Asia, she is studying Literature and Culture at the Yenching Academy. Upon her return to the United States, she will matriculate into a dual MD/JD degree program for medicine and law.

 Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad

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Emily Conrad joined the 2016-2017 cohort of Yenching Scholars after completing a year of graduate study at Tsinghua University as a Chinese Government Scholarship recipient. She graduated from Wofford College (Spartanburg, South Carolina) in 2013 with Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude honors, triple majoring in economics, German, and Spanish. During her undergraduate career, she studied at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, Germany, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, where she gained the prestigious distinction of Matrícula de Honor. Upon graduation, Emily worked as Communications Manager for an international textile machinery firm, Atkins Machinery, where she developed new customers amounting to over $3 million in sales in Latin America and South Asia. A South Carolina native, Emily is also highly involved in local and state politics and served as Director of Communications for the American Party SC. She is also a frequent opinion columnist on domestic and international politics in newspapers and blogs. In her spare time, Emily sings opera. She began classical voice lessons at the age of seven and has studied independently with Metropolitan Opera star Victoria Livengood since 2010. Emily is also a voracious reader and writer, maintaining her own book blog, www.globalbookchallenge.com, since 2012, where she reviews at least one non-fiction book she reads about every country in the world.

Jenna Cook

Jenna Cook

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Jenna Cook is from Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Yale University with a degree in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.  From 2014-2015, Jenna Cook was a China Fulbright Scholar in the sociology department of Wuhan University.  At the Yenching Academy, she is pursuing an M.A. in China Studies with a concentration in Law and Society.

Matthew DeButts

Matthew DeButts

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Matthew DeButts graduated from Amherst College in 2014, majoring in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. In 2014-15, he taught Law at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing as a Princeton-in-Asia Fellow, while working part-time as Editor-in-Chief of Legation Quarter, a Beijing-area foreign affairs newsletter. He then studied as a Chinese language student at Tsinghua University in Beijing. As a Yenching Scholar, he is concentrating in Politics and International Relations. He has diverse interests, however, including education policy, foreign affairs, and landscape design. Matt DeButts was born in Winston-Salem, NC, and raised in Arlington, VA.

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.

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.