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Eight Students to Study in Asia This Spring

China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand will host eight UNC undergraduates next semester who will study abroad on Phillips Ambassadors scholarships.

The scholarship combines an award for study in Asia with an academic course that puts the experience in greater global context and challenges students to share their experiences of Asia upon their return.

The Phillips Ambassadors, who receive up to $7,500 for a semester or a year of study in Asia, are chosen twice annually based on academic achievement and commitment to activities, service and leadership roles in the classroom and community.

Qualified undergraduates may use the award for any of more than 50 UNC-approved study abroad programs in Asia that are offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and Kenan-Flagler Business School. The Study Abroad Office in the college manages the program. Twenty-five percent of the scholarships go to qualified undergraduate business majors and minors from Kenan-Flagler.

A key feature of the program is what is called the “Give Back,” or sharing of one’s experience in Asia with the Carolina community and the student’s hometown. In accepting the scholarship, students agree to submit articles about their studies in Asia for campus or hometown publications. They also give an outreach presentation about their experiences in Asia to a school in their hometown and other schools in North Carolina, introducing more young people to Asia.

To date, 108 UNC students have studied in Asia as Phillips Ambassadors since the program started in 2007. The eight new ambassadors bring the number to 116. Generating greater interest in Asia among UNC undergraduates was part of what motivated alumnus Earl N. “Phil” Phillips Jr. ’62 to endow the program.

Phillips, an entrepreneur who splits his time between High Point and Chapel Hill, has said he hopes his gift will encourage more students to spend their study abroad experiences focused on Asia, an increasingly vital region of the world. He has worked and traveled in Asia for more than 20 years and is a former U.S. ambassador to the eastern Caribbean. His long-term goal is for all Carolina undergraduates to have an international experience before they graduate.

The new Phillips Ambassadors are:

  • Brooke Shaffer of Shelby, who will study in Hong Kong at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A double major in German and in journalism and mass communication in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she graduated from Salem Academy in Winston-Salem.
  • Hanna Bustillo of Aberdeen, who will study in Japan at Sophia University in Tokyo. A double major in political science and philosophy, she graduated from Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines.
  • William K. “Keith” Funkhouser III of Chapel Hill, who will study at the National University of Singapore with the Honors-University Scholars Exchange program. A double major in biology and in biostatistics at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, he graduated from the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham.
  • William “Bo” Brandt of Raleigh, who will study in Shanghai with the Institute for the International Education of Students. A business administration major at Kenan-Flagler Business School, he graduated from St. David’s School in Raleigh.
  • Yuen Ho of Cary, who will study in Thailand with the UNC Semester in Southeast Asia program. A double major in economics and English, she graduated from Cary High School.
  • Olamide Olusesi of Raleigh, who will study in Singapore with the National University of Singapore science program. A double major in physics and mathematics, he graduated from Broughton High School in Raleigh.
  • Matthew Stevens of Raleigh, who will study in Singapore at the National University of Singapore. A business administration major at Kenan-Flagler Business School, he graduated from Broughton High School in Raleigh.
  • Ruapiao Xu of Hangzhou, China, who will study at Keio University in Tokyo. A double major in business administration at Kenan-Flagler Business School and in mathematical decision sciences, she graduated from Hangzhou Foreign Languages School in Hangzhou.

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