Claremont, Calif. (April 10, 2018) — Pitzer College student Carlisle Micallef ’18 has been awarded a Yenching Scholarship for a fully funded, 12-month, interdisciplinary master’s program in Chinese studies at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in Beijing, China. Micallef is the first Pitzer student to be selected for the highly competitive program.
Micallef, who is a Chinese language and literature major and history minor, will study conceptions of Confucianism in the twenty-first century and the role cultural figures play in shaping popular opinion and ethics.
Micallef’s interest in China dates back to her grade-school days, when she began learning Mandarin while living in Singapore for five years. In high school, Micallef embarked on a six-week language immersion program in southwest China. While enrolled at Pitzer, she studied abroad in China twice, once in Beijing and once in Hangzhou. She has taught English in the world’s most populous country as well as interned at the digital media company SupChina and WildChina, a Beijing-based travel company.
Micallef says she first fell in love with Chinese history through Chinese literature. Reading books like Red Sorghum by Mo Yan and To Live by Yu Hua brought to life the human stories woven into the country’s seismic social and political transitions.
“When you go into the literature, you delve into the emotional landscape of the people who are affected by China’s enormous historical shifts,” Micallef said.
For her senior thesis, Micallef is translating and analyzing the personal letters of Zeng Guofan, a nineteenth-century statesman, general and Confucian scholar. She’s examining how Confucianism influenced the historic figure’s thinking and the advice he sent home to his family.
While at Pitzer, Micallef also worked as a research assistant with The Claremont Colleges Asian Languages and Literatures Department and served on the Student Senate Academic Planning Committee at Pitzer. She edited the Claremont Journal of International Relations and the Life and Style section of The Student Life, the weekly student newspaper of The Claremont Colleges.
As she pursues her graduate degree at Peking University’s Yenching Academy, Micallef hopes to steep herself and her scholarship in the multi-faceted perspective of her host country.
“In academia and the West, we often look at China as researchers and detached observers,” she said. “I’m very excited to learn how China sees its own narratives and values.”
The Yenching Scholarship covers tuition fees, a travel stipend, accommodations and living costs at Peking University. The Yenching Academy of Peking University offers a residential program aimed at creating a community of enthusiastic, globally oriented young innovators. To learn more about undergraduate and graduate awards at Pitzer, please visit the College’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships.