Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Yuzhi (Sarah) Yang receives P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Yuzhi (Sarah) Yang

Yuzhi (Sarah) Yang, an Ed.D. student in the Watson College of Education, is a recipient of a $10,000 Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) International Peace Scholarship (IPS), a highly competitive scholarship for international women who pursue graduate study in the U.S. and Canada and plan to return to positions of influence in their homelands.

The scholarship is sponsored by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, an organization that promotes educational opportunities for women through philanthropy.

Yang, who is from Shanghai, China, is enrolled in the educational leadership doctoral program with a concentration in higher education. She is the first international student to enroll in the doctoral program at the Watson College.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” said Yang.

As an international student, Yang pays the higher out-of-state tuition rate. The scholarship will help alleviate financial pressure as she works to complete her doctoral degree.

Yang applied for the scholarship last fall and was interviewed by local P.E.O members Anne Parker, chair of the IPS Committee for the Wilmington BH Chapter of the P.E.O., local chapter president Janis Norris and Cynthia Harris in November. The women were impressed with her professional experience, initiative and strong desire to pursue a degree in higher education in order to influence policy and improve education for minority students, Parker said.

Yuzhi (Sarah) Yang

Sarah Yang with P.E.O. member Anne Parker and 
local chapter president Janis Norris.

Yang has been working in the educational system as a classroom teacher and administrator in China since 1987. She came to the United States on her own to search out the educational program which might best help her to meet her career goals, Parker and Norris wrote in a letter of recommendation to the organization’s International Peace Scholarship Committee. She decided to take a closer look at UNC Wilmington’s program at the Watson College of Education.

“She flew into Wilmington, got a motel room near the campus and walked to the campus the next day. She personally explored the campus and talked with professors about the educational leadership degree program,” the letter stated. “Her mind was made up, and she applied. She then flew back to China and made plans to return for the fall semester.”

When the local P.E.O. leaders met with Yang, it was obvious that she had clear objectives to help improve China’s educational system and that she was looking forward to implementing them.

“Yuzhi feels that many of the policies and regulations are un-workable within the Chinese educational system. She would like to identify these policies and, together with other researchers, make recommendations to the appropriate authority within the Chinese Department of Education,” Parker and Norris stated in the letter. “We have no doubt that she will be successful in her endeavors, and we hope the International Peace Scholarship might make that road smoother for her,” they wrote. “It would be a privilege to play a role in such a dedicated and worthwhile life.”

Parker said local P.E.O leaders were impressed with Yang’s personal warmth when they met her in November, and were thrilled to learn in April that she had been selected for the scholarship. “Yuzhi is a lovely and beautiful woman who is very deserving of the award,” Parker said. “My life has been made brighter by her friendship.”

Susan Catapano, coordinator of the Ed.D. program, said Yang’s professors are proud of all that she has accomplished. “I know how hard Yuzhi has worked to come to the U.S. and succeed in our program,” Catapano said. “Yuzhi is our first international student and her contributions to the program and to Watson College of Education have been valuable. I know she will graduate and bring her energy and expertise back to make improvements in the Chinese education system.”

“In my work at other universities, I have seen firsthand how international students can make very positive contributions to the learning experiences of fellow students (and faculty),” Dean Kenneth Teitelbaum said. "Given what many of them have to go through to study in the United States, they are often particularly motivated. Moreover, they bring with them cultural and educational experiences different from our own, which helps to broaden our own perspectives in significant ways.”

“We are very fortunate to have Yuzhi as a student in our Ed.D. program,” Teitelbaum continued. “She is smart, inquisitive, insightful, and dedicated to her studies, and also a real pleasure to work with both as a student and a graduate assistant. With regard to not only her scholarly and professional interests but also her personal demeanor, she is in essence the embodiment of ‘international peace,’ and certainly very deserving of this prestigious scholarship.” 

Yang hopes her story of finding academic success and a “home away from home” at the Watson College will inspire others, and said she views the International Peace Scholarship award as “a collective honor of the Watson College of Education” rather than an individual one.

“Without the encouragement and support of Dr. Teitelbaum, Dr. McNulty, Dr. Catapano, Dr. Walser, Dr. Tyndall, Dr. DeVita, Dr. Markley, Dr. Thompson, Dr. Carr, Dr. Barber, Dr. Ryder and Dr. McClure, I could not have achieved that,” Yang said.

About the International Peace Scholarship

The International Peace Scholarship was established by the P.E.O. in 1949 after World War II to foster peace through education. Since then scholarships have been awarded to 6,000 women from 168 countries. Yang is the first UNCW student to receive the IPS award since 2007, when a scholarship was granted to Aixia Zhang. Zhang, also from China, was enrolled in the master’s program in the Watson College of Education at the time.

For information about the P.E.O. Sisterhood visit: http://www.peointernational.org/

For information about the P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship visit:http://www.peointernational.org/about-peo-international-peace-scholarship-ips