PhD East Asian Studies, Graduation date: 2014
What were you doing before you applied to your chosen programme?
I received my BA (Hons) in English Literature from Northern Illinois University in 2006. In the summer after my graduation I volunteered on an archaeological dig in Peru, which allowed me to learn Spanish and travel in Latin America. In early 2007 I moved to Shanghai, China in order to teach English, study Chinese and travel in Asia. After living in Shanghai for a year and a half, I moved to Xiamen (a city on the southeast coast of China) and began teaching English at Xiamen University.
In the summer of 2009 I was fortunate enough to be awarded a fully funded Chinese Government Scholarship (through the China Scholarship Council) to pursue my master’s degree in International Relations at Xiamen University. This scholarship provided me with the opportunity to improve my Chinese linguistic skills and begin my research on the role that microfinance is playing in poverty alleviation in rural China. In the summer of 2011 I graduated from Xiamen University at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA.
Why did you apply to the programme?
I looked into a number of PhD programmes in both the US and the UK. However, I was immediately drawn to Leeds because of the outstanding reputation of the Department of East Asian Studies and the enthusiasm of my supervisor.
The fact that Leeds is home to the National Institute of Chinese Studies (NICS), the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC), and the Centre for Global Development (CGD) also contributed to my decision to apply to the University. Finally, as if to confirm that Leeds was the best place to pursue my PhD, I was offered a Fully Funded International Research Scholarship (FIRS) from the University, which allowed me to become a full-time PhD student.
What are your future plans? Do you think your degree will help you to achieve these?
I hope that my PhD will add to the growing body of literature on microfinance in rural China. I plan to use an actor-oriented approach to describe the rapidly expanding microfinance industry from the perspectives of those actors involved at the local level. Upon completion of my PhD, I would like to continue researching issues related to rural development in China and possibly South America.