Three students selected as 2018 Weir Fellows

Three students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were selected as recipients of the 2018 William D. Weir Honors Fellowship in Asian Studies, a program designed for students who have started their Chinese language journey and would like to develop advanced working language skills.

Second-year student Jolie Lau and third-year students Kyle Asher and Spence Jorgensen will join the ranks of Carolina students and alumni who have been awarded the prestigious Weir Fellowship during the program’s many successful years. Recipients spend the spring semester in Beijing for intensive language study at the CET Chinese Language Center hosted at Capital Normal University. They then devote eight weeks during the summer to an internship in either Beijing or Shanghai working with CET’s Internship programs. Internships are customized to match a broad range of student interests, from law and business to the arts, journalism, and health and human services.

The William D. Weir Honors Fellowships in Asian Studies were established in 1995 by Peter Boneparth ‘80 and Heather Weir Boneparth ‘80, to honor Heather’s late father, William Donald Weir. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and spent much of his career at the State Department Arms Control and Disarmament Agency engaged in the SALT-START talks.  The fellowship was conceived while Peter was serving as the CEO of the Jones Apparel Group and recognized the difficulty his company was having creating lasting business relationships with partners in China. He came to believe the long-term, sustainable success between the two countries would be predicated on many more U.S. citizens immersing themselves in the language and culture of China.

Kyle Asher, class of 2019, is from Charlotte, North Carolina. Kyle started studying Chinese Language his first year at Chapel Hill. Quickly falling in love with the language, he continued to pursue Chinese and computer science majors. His research in computer science involves using embedded systems to intelligently aid visually-impaired individuals’ ability to navigate spaces with many obstacles. Kyle already spends a lot of time independently studying electronics and computer science related vocabulary, and hopes that through the Weir program he will be able to build his technical conversational skills to a professional level in both English and Chinese. Kyle hopes that one day he will be able to start a tech-related business with close collaboration between American and Chinese engineers.

Jolie Lau, class of 2020, is from Goldsboro, North Carolina and is majoring in Chinese and pre-health policy and management. She hopes to work in East Asia one day to ameliorate health disparities, especially those between rural and urban populations. Through the Weir fellowship, Jolie aims to attain a level of fluency in Mandarin that parallels that of her Cantonese. Her interest in studying Chinese not only stems from professional development, but a desire to more deeply understand her own culture, language, and identity.

Spence Jorgensen, class of 2019, is from Atlanta, Georgia and is majoring in environmental sciences and Chinese, with a minor in geography. He is passionate about renewable energy, urban planning, and transportation. In the spring of 2017, Spence had the opportunity to conduct research on sustainable construction while on a semester abroad in Southeast Asia. During his time in China, he hopes to continue learning about sustainable development in light of China’s rapid urbanization. Spence is looking forward to developing professional proficiency in Chinese and implementing his language skills in an internship involving environmental conservation.

William D. Weir Honors Fellowships in Asian Studies offer Carolina undergraduates a unique opportunity to develop their language skills and gain practical, independent work experience in China. The fellowship is open to all UNC-CH undergraduates with at three semesters in residence, a 3.2 GPA or higher, and at least three semesters of Chinese language.

The Fellowship covers most of the program expenses, including CET program fees, airfare, housing, textbooks, excursions, and medical insurance. Students contribute the equivalent of UNC tuition for one semester and cover their food and personal expenses.

Read more about the Weir Fellowships on the program’s website.