Twenty-five students from Duke Kunshan University have joined the Millennium Fellowship 2023, marking the second consecutive year that DKU has been selected for the global leadership program.
The young leaders have united with more than 4,000 other undergraduates studying in 38 nations to confront global problems such as poverty, discrimination and climate change.
Organized by United Nations Academic Impact and the Millennium Campus Network, the program is highly competitive with just 9 per cent of applicant campuses chosen to send students this year.
The Millennium Fellows are meeting virtually over the course of six sessions during the 2023 fall semester to collaborate on advancing the U.N.’s academic impact principles and sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include hunger eradication, gender equality and climate action.
The leadership development program is designed to improve students’ partnership building and community impact skills.
Campus directors Nicolás Velasco Pérez and Xiaoyu (Jason) Duan are leading the Duke Kunshan contingent, a multi-talented mix of creative thinkers and change-makers.
Pérez from the Class of 2025 said he has been thrilled to meet like-minded, socially conscious students at Duke Kunshan and beyond through the program, adding he feels proud to support DKU’s development as a young university.
“By participating in the fellowship, I feel we are adding a touch of social impact and awareness to DKU’s culture, as well as showing students that there are opportunities on campus to use their knowledge for social good,” he said.
Having seen for himself how education can be a “game-changer” for many unprivileged communities in his home country of Colombia, Pérez said he is determined to support the widening of educational opportunities.
“Shortages in access to education may lead society to be less prepared to face challenges such as inequality, climate change and political polarization,” he said.
Duan from China is particularly passionate about improving health for all.
“Unequal access to health resources, lack of sufficient health education, and deeply rooted stigma and discrimination have hindered this goal,” said the Class of 2024 student, as he highlighted the need for greater international collaboration to create a more just and equitable world.
Duan said he was “excited and honored” to be selected for the program, adding, “For DKU as a whole, it represents an acknowledgment of our devotion to making contributions to our community and society and applying what we have learned to our world.”
More than 44,000 students from thousands of campuses across 170 countries applied to join the Millennium Fellowship Class of 2023. Duke Kunshan was one of the 268 campuses selected to send students; its 25 fellows are now part of this year’s 4,000-strong cohort.
The other 2023 Duke Kunshan Millennium Fellows are: Zhenkun Fang, Yuqi Wang, Wanlin Bai, Taisiya Rozenshteyn, Shiyu Xiong, Shelley Pleva, Shan Wu, Ruochen Zhang, Rongfan Liu, Nino Nadirashvili, Marwa Mouzahim, Leah Wildermann, Ketong Han, Kate Elosta, Jingting Sun, Helene Gu, Guangzhi Su, Chaoying Li, Biying Wang, Arabela Iggesen Valenzuela, Andhisty Mahmud, Amelia Janiak and Aleksandra Stryjska.
The students each submitted social impact projects on topics of global concern as part of the application process, covering volunteerism in hospice care, Chinese-foreigner integration in Kunshan, sustainable fashion, medical technology and much more.
The fellowship will help them progress their action plans through leadership training and peer collaboration.
Dr. Meifang Chen, who oversees DKU involvement in the Millennium Fellowship program, welcomed the notable achievement of DKU becoming part of the U.N. global campus for the second consecutive year.
“Through leadership training and by learning from other Millennium Fellows from across the globe, our students will not only enhance their individual capacities as global citizens and new-generation leaders, but will also leverage those qualities to address crucial global issues and challenges, leading us to a brighter future,” said the assistant professor of health policy.
DKU Chancellor Dr. Yaolin Liu said, “Duke Kunshan is not only committed to educating students to become experts in various fields, but also to training them to become global citizens who can respond to the challenges facing humankind.
“Our Millennium Fellows represent Duke Kunshan’s educational philosophies of serving society with knowledge and taking a collaborative approach to changing the world.”
Dr. Mary Frances Luce, the interim executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan, said: “This fellowship is a fantastic opportunity for our students to contribute their creative thinking and can-do mindsets to global action on some of the most critical issues affecting humanity today.
“It is a significant achievement to be selected for this renowned and ambitious leadership program, and we are confident they will thrive under the responsibility.”