Graduate of National University of Singapore and Chinese University of Hong Kong receives prestigious American fellowship

Chen Li, from Wenzhou, China, has been named a McDonnell International Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis. Chen earned degrees from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Chinese University of Hong Kong, which are two of the 27 premier universities from around the world partnered with Washington University in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

In addition to becoming a Scholar in the Academy, Chen has been named the Seng Tee Lee Fellow. This reflects the generous gift from the Lee Foundation in Singapore to support a graduate of NUS in the Academy.

The McDonnell Academy provides an opportunity for talented international graduate and professional students to join the Washington University community.

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“Chen Li is an excellent individual to have in the Academy. In addition to being an excellent student of law, he has a broad set of other interests, including the history of Chinese students in U.S. institutions of higher education,” says McDonnell International Scholars Academy Director James V. Wertsch, PhD, associate vice chancellor for international affairs and the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

“Along with others here at Washington University, I am learning a lot from him about this history.”

Chen earned a JD from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2009 and two master’s of laws degrees from National University of Singapore in 2011 as one of their top students.

Throughout his education, Chen developed a passion to reform China’s legal system by changing the way that law and legal studies are taught in China.

After living in different places around the world, Chen realized the importance of education with a global dimension. He said the McDonnell Academy scholarship offers him the opportunity to study U.S. law, human rights, and government structure and function.

He plans to bring the knowledge back to China to help local law schools diversify their curriculum and adopt global educational methods.

Chen also has a dream of establishing a legal aid organization in China to work on public interest law cases. He plans to promote constructive ideas for legal reform and help provide legal assistance to marginalized groups.

“The McDonnell Academy provides a rigorous yet supportive environment to tackle societal challenges with a global perspective,” Chen says.

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy is a program for future global leaders to obtain their PhD or master’s degrees. Employing an unusual approach, it brings together top scholars from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America to pursue world-class education and research while forging a strong network with one another.

Key to this are partnerships Washington University has established with top universities and corporations around the world with an eye to increasing opportunities for joint research and global education.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars are expected to be future global leaders. As such, they are provided not only with a rigorous graduate education, but also with cultural and social activities designed to prepare them as leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries and critical international issues.

Academy Ambassador

Once selected for this highly competitive program, each Academy Scholar is matched with a distinguished member of the Washington University faculty who serves as a mentor and also as an Academy “Ambassador” to the university partner from which the Scholar has graduated.

The Academy Ambassador assists the McDonnell Scholar in academic and professional life and travels annually with the Scholar to the partner university to build relationships between the two institutions.

Michael Sherraden, PhD, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at Washington University’s Brown School, is Chen’s faculty mentor-ambassador.

Sherraden earned a bachelor’s degree in 1970 from Harvard University and both a master’s of social work (1976) and a doctorate (1979) at the University of Michigan.

Sherraden has played a central role in articulating the notion of asset-based development, which suggests that policy and programs should promote not merely income and consumption, but also savings and investment.

In 1992-93, Sherraden was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore. Singapore has also been a site for his program innovations, and the National University of Singapore houses a sister center of his Center for Social Development at Washington University.

Sherraden has received many awards; in 2010 he was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award from Washington University in 1994 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan (2002).

The McDonnell Academy

The McDonnell Academy Scholars receive funding for full tuition and living expenses for the time it takes to get a degree at Washington University. The Academy also provides support for an annual trip back to the Scholar’s alma mater. Many of the Scholars reside in two fully equipped and furnished apartment buildings near campus.

Funding is provided through a sustaining endowment gift from John F. McDonnell, vice chair of WUSTL’s Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Additional support comes from 22 multinational corporations, foundations and individual sponsors. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for the Academy’s Corporate Fellows.