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ASU honors grad awarded Yenching Academy Scholarship

Camille Thompson one of 85 non-Chinese students to study at Peking University in Beijing

Portrait of ASU grad Camille Thompson.

Camille Thompson. Courtesy photo

November 02, 2023

Arizona State University graduate Camille Thompson has begun her tenure as one of 85 non-Chinese students in the ninth cohort of Yenching Academy Scholars at Peking University in Beijing, China.

As a Yenching Academy Scholar, Thompson will specialize in the history and archaeology track to further her understanding of the conceptualization of Chinese identity during the Cultural Revolution, particularly through film and other narrative media. Following the completion of her master’s degree in China, Thompson will pursue a doctoral degree in Chinese studies and an academic career.

Thompson is the second ASU student selected for the fellowship, following Ryan Featherston in 2020.

“Improving our understanding of China is going to be imperative to the future,” Thompson said.

“I hope through my studies I am able to help contribute to an unbiased view of Chinese history and the Chinese region. It is important for us to be able to see past our own cultural, social and political backgrounds to encourage and facilitate a fair and just society,” she added.

Thompson, a Mesa, Arizona, native and graduate of Higley High School, received dual bachelor’s degrees in physics and East Asian studies, with a concentration on China and a minor in Chinese language, from ASU in May 2023. An Obama Scholar and a graduate of Barrett, The Honors College, her senior honors thesis focused on the subjectivity of the story “Huo Zhe, To Live” as it is perceived through Western and Chinese lenses.

While at ASU, Thompson participated in the federally funded Chinese Language Flagship program that enables ASU students to achieve professional language proficiency in conjunction with their primary studies. In completion of her required capstone year, Thompson studied at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and served as an intern at the Palace Museum with the support of a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.

Established in 2014, the Yenching Academy is a global fellowship program that seeks to push academic study of China beyond the boundaries of traditionally defined humanities and social sciences disciplines through a specially designed, English-taught, interdisciplinary master’s program in China studies.

The Yenching Academy Scholarship is among the most selective in the world, with an average selection rate of 2.7%. In 2016, Barrett Honors College was invited to become a partner institution with the Yenching Academy, one of only 21 in the United States, along with Columbia, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago.

“The Yenching Academy Scholars program is a truly remarkable opportunity,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean of national scholarship advisement and director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement. “The experience of full immersion within the context of a truly international cohort of other young scholars is a life-changing experience.”

Thompson said she would highly recommend the program to other students.

"My advice for anyone thinking about applying or who are currently in the process, is to just do it. You never know what the applicant pool looks like and if you have a great interest in studying China and want to do a fully-funded masters program, Yenching Academy Scholars program is the place to do it," she said, adding that the program offers courses taught in English and Mandarin, as well as the opportunity to write a thesis in Mandarin. 

Graduating seniors or recent graduates who are interested in applying to the Yenching Academy Scholars program should reach out to for guidance. The deadline to apply for ASU nomination to the program is Dec. 1.

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