Elizabeth Gunawan CC’18, a double major in economics and sociology from Jakarta, Indonesia, and Zachary Marcone CC’19, an economics-mathematics major from Long Island, NY, have been selected as Yenching Academy Scholars.
They will be joining approximately 125 outstanding young scholars from more than 40 countries undertaking an interdisciplinary master’s program in China studies at Peking University beginning in September 2019. For their year-long fellowships, scholars are expected to pick from six research categories: literature and culture; history and archaeology; philosophy and religion; public policy and international relations; economics and management; and law and society. Yenching Academy Scholars have access to prominent guest lectures, world-renowned visiting faculty, visits to leading domestic and international companies, organizations, government institutions and special seminars.
“I chose Yenching because I wanted to be able to get an interdisciplinary understanding of China and its influence on the rest of the world,” said Gunawan, a Phi Beta Kappa inductee. “It’s something that has interested me as someone who grew up in Southeast Asia where China's force as a superpower was very present.”
During her time at Columbia College, Gunawan was an All-American student-athlete, a research assistant for Irasema Alonso and a teaching assistant for Wouter Vergote, both of whom are lecturers in the economics department. She was a recipient of the 2017/2018 Resident Adviser of the Year award, a Multicultural Affairs graduation cord recipient and a member of the Scholar-Athlete 4.0 Club.
“I was able to take advantage of the liberal arts education to take classes in subjects I have never been exposed to before,” said Gunawan, who plans to pursue the economics and management track at Yenching. “More importantly, I always felt encouraged to be active and involved on campus and this allowed me to grow as a leader.”
Marcone’s interest in China’s economic development was sparked during an internship at a development-oriented microfinance organization in Kampala, Uganda.
“During my two months in Uganda I witnessed the completion of an airport superhighway, the construction of a bridge spanning the Nile and a number of newly paved roads, all with Chinese money,”he said. “China is shaping the world and anyone interested in economic development cannot ignore China.”
As an undergraduate, Marcone — who is an I. I. Rabi Scholar — worked as a research assistant with David Weinstein, the Carl S. Shoup Professor of Japanese Economy, studying Japanese trade and development in the 19th century. He subsequently continued his research at the University of Tokyo. He maintained a foreign and economic policy blog for the Huffington Post for two years and also served as the head delegate of Columbia's Model UN team in his junior year.
The Yenching Academy provides full fellowships for young people who have demonstrated a talent for leadership and innovation. Besides immersing themselves in Chinese culture through field excursions around China and in an intensive Chinese language program, Yenching Academy Scholars are also required to enrich their academic knowledge outside the classroom by completing an internship or conducting a field study guided by a faculty mentor.
Upon finishing his master’s, Marcone will consider a number of options including working for a startup in economic development, a think tank,or continuing on to a Ph.D.