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Two graduates earn Chinese Government Scholarships

October 1, 2018
Cherish Blackman

Cherish Blackman ’18. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Two recent University graduates soon will begin a year of study at Chinese universities after receiving full scholarships from the Chinese government.

Cherish Blackman ’18, a Rochester native, will study Chinese language and culture at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. Jacqueline Tran ’18, of Brooklyn, is studying international relations and Chinese language at Shandong University on the Qingdao campus.

The Chinese Government Scholarship is a program of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China that seeks to promote mutual understanding between China and other countries through academic exchange. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students from diverse academic backgrounds around the globe who wish to pursue studies in China.

Blackman’s fascination with languages began in sixth grade, when she started teaching herself Japanese using online resources. She studied Spanish in middle school and high school, and majored in Russian and East Asian Studies in college, with a minor in Spanish.

Blackman participated in a weeklong Sister Cities ambassadorial trip to China as a high school student at Our Lady of Mercy in Rochester. She began learning basic Mandarin, the official state language of China, on her own prior to the trip.

“I was able to interact in a way that allowed us to engage on a different level, and this meant the world to me,” she says. “It was not impossible to be understood, and the effort was appreciated. Later in college, I enrolled in one of the most transformative classes I’ve ever taken. This was a course on modern Chinese history, which shattered all my previous notions of China and gave me a new, critical understanding of the country.”

Blackman says she’s “a little excited and a little nervous” about starting a year of post-graduate study more than 7,000 miles away from home.

“As a commuter student, I’ve never been away from home without family for longer than a month, but I hope this will be a perspective-altering experience,” she says.  “Chinese studies have become so central to my passions that I yearn to study in China to further my academic and professional goals.”

Blackman hopes to become a scholar specializing in Chinese literature, especially Ming Dynasty and Republican era literature.

“However, as an American who has taken classes that often look at China from a Western perspective, I am enthusiastic to see how Chinese scholarship on various topics may be similar to or different from American scholarship on the same topics,” she says.

Tran majored in anthropology with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies and was one of three University students who received 2018 US Department of State Critical Language Scholarships, allowing her to take part in Arabic language and cultural immersion programs in Amman, Jordan, this past summer. Before that, she studied in Morocco for a semester with the support of the Gilman Scholarship.

Jacqueline Tran

Jacqueline Tran ’18. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Tran is Chinese-American but has no previous training in Mandarin. She will take her courses in English but is also taking a Chinese language course at Shandong.

“When I received word about my acceptance to the Chinese Government Scholarship, I had a really amazing job offer waiting for me at a venture capital firm in the US,” she says. “But this scholarship was the perfect opportunity to do the things I haven’t had a chance to do.”

Tran plans to return to the United States and pursue a doctoral degree in anthropology when her year in China is up. She’s interested in a career in international development, focusing on the Middle East and North Africa.

“China’s growing presence on the world stage and expanding economic development through the Middle East and African continent has increased the amount of engagement China has in the MENA region,” she says. “While I was at Rochester, I developed a strong interest in conducting anthropological research in the MENA region and wanted to continue my research interests in graduate school. But I also had a lingering interest in exploring a career in international development and relations.”

She felt the Chinese Government Scholarship was “a great way to complete the other side of the equation.”

“It gives me the opportunity to learn Chinese as well as have an introduction to international development and relations I didn’t have a chance to explore in my undergraduate years,” she says.

The Chinese Government Scholarship covers tuition and housing, and students receive a monthly stipend. Candidates choose from among 279 Chinese institutions; while they indicate their preferences in the application, placement decisions are made in China. The University is invited to nominate up to two graduating seniors and current graduate students annually for a year of non-degree studies in Chinese language and other subjects. Under the direction of Belinda Redden, the University’s Fellowships Office director, recruits candidates, manages the nomination process, and aids students in completing their dossiers for this scholarship opportunity.




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