Scholarships spark new opportunities for students

Rhodes, Marshall Scholars to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom

Three UChicago students have earned prestigious Marshall and Rhodes scholarships to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom next fall.

Fourth-year in the College Sarah Nakasone and Law School student Christopher Crum have received prestigious Marshall Scholarships to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom, while Law School student Yali Peng, LLM’17, has won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.

Nakasone plans to pursue a career in disease control and prevention, specifically looking at how to better engage women in HIV sexual health programs—work that was first inspired by her research at UChicago and abroad. Crum intends to use the Marshall Scholarship to examine how governments can use law to combat threats that the internet poses to individual privacy, the integrity of elections and quality of public discourse. Peng will pursue a doctorate in either criminology or socio-legal studies and hopes to examine sentencing structures and criminal behavior with a focus on how the system affects people from marginalized communities.

Read more about these scholars below:

Human stories spark legal career

Peng said her work at the Law School offered her insight on the American criminal justice system. Ultimately, she hopes her work will lead to better treatment and improved opportunities for rehabilitation in criminal justice systems.

“I am super grateful to the education I received at UChicago Law, which gave me an insightful understanding of American society,” Peng said. “It is such a great honor that I can join a good community of Rhodes Scholars to find like minds to promote criminal justice.”

Peng said her interest in criminal behavior has grown from observing the human stories behind crimes.

“I know a prostitute who sold her body to pay her daughter’s tuition in a prestigious private school as her husband’s wage is not enough,” Peng said. “I have also seen kids who were left behind [when their parents left] to earn money as migrant workers in big cities. Their grandparents rarely disciplined them, and they finally become local gangsters. I felt each criminal may have his or her own story, and there may be systemic forces driving people to become criminals in such a stratified society.”

Before entering the Law School, Peng earned a bachelor of laws degree from Tsinghua University, where she wrote an award-winning dissertation that examined the factors influencing the sentencing of larceny based on linear regression models. She was an editorial board member of Tsinghua China Law Review and clerked at the Supreme People’s Court of China.

Peng is now in the second year of her JSD program, writing a dissertation that will focus on the extralegal factors influencing Chinese sentencing.

Read more about Peng.

Research at UChicago inspires career path

Raised in a military family, Nakasone knows the value of community and the vital role it plays in providing support in times of need. It was this appreciation that first sparked her curiosity in how support networks can spread health information.

Thanks to a grant from UChicago’s study abroad office, she traveled to South Africa to work as a research assistant with the Africa Health Research Institute, designing tools to investigate rural health care workers’ perceptions of HIV prevention methods for young women. This past summer, Nakasone received a grant to work in the U.K. as project director for the Women2Women Project, where she worked alongside community activists to design a study that examined how minority women share sexual health information.

“In HIV work, like the military, the idea of community takes precedence over everything. Members here protect themselves from the trauma and stigma of health concerns and in doing so, become a family,” Nakasone said. “I have positioned my research to elevate community voices in policy discussions because the people for whom I fight operate under my childhood tenet: If you want to help the individual, you have to enrich their community.”

Nakasone credits UChicago’s global studies program for helping teach her to look in a broader context. “It was one of those programs that taught us to look at problems in a different light and not see the global and local as completely separate spheres. It’s how I have been able to learn lessons from South Africa and London and bring them back to Chicago.”

After her time in the U.K., Nakasone hopes to return to the United States and work in the deep South—which bears the burden of new HIV cases—as a researcher for an HIV outreach organization. Ultimately, she intends to manage legislative affairs for a state department of public health.

Read more about Nakasone.

Law School fuels questions about internet

Law school has fueled Crum’s many questions about the digital commons. In his Elements of the Law class, he debated how to balance free speech with interests in regulating fake news. In his Property class, he thought about privacy, individuality and nuisance law. As a staff member on the Chicago Journal of International Law, he worked on a student comment that focused on appropriate institutional design for dealing with the downsides of the digital commons.

“UChicago, more than anything else, gave me the confidence I needed to apply for the Marshall Scholarship,” Crum said. “Being here in a community full of some of the smartest students and professors in the country normalizes aiming high. Moreover, my Hyde Park experience has given me a renewed appreciation for institutional choice and design. More specifically, if it's inevitable that the internet is going to be more regulated in the future, it remains integral to determine whether the regulators should be private or public, something the state’s choices go a long way in determining. UChicago has highlighted that crucial point.”

As an undergraduate at Bates College in Maine, Crum wrote a thesis on the ways in which European powers tried build their maritime empires by claiming ownership of the ocean. It’s a concept, he argued, that served as an early foundation for modern-day ideas about ownership, including intellectual property. 

The summer before starting law school, he interned at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society in Cambridge, Mass., where he studied online free speech and digital copyright. He was troubled by claims of proprietary ownership on the internet commons, which he saw as “a drag on the creative promise that the internet represents.”

Crum, who will be working on data-privacy cases this summer at Ropes & Gray LLP, hopes to build a future career first in legal practice and, ultimately, in political advising. He will take two years away from the Law School and then return to finish his final year.

Read more about Crum.