Wendy Li '15
Wendy Li has left no stone unturned during her exploration of the Princeton experience. From study abroad in Paris, to internships at the U.S. Department of State and to women’s rugby, Li has taken advantage of all the University has to offer.
Li is a major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and is earning a visual arts certificate. She was born in Montreal, came to the United States with her family when she was an infant and speaks Chinese and French. She became a U.S. citizen at 16 when her parents passed their citizenship exams.
Her enthusiasm for politics started early, but during her time at Princeton she has focused on global development. For her senior thesis, Princeton is supporting her trip to China so that she can research government policies in rural areas within the context of Chinese migration and urbanization.
“What’s happening in China is that these huge working populations are migrating to the cities, but they are leaving behind children and elderly people,” she explains. “I am looking at what is happening in both the public and private sector and will be interviewing government officials and others.”
Li is not a stranger to China. She returns there every two years to visit extended family. Her personal experiences also are inspiring her visual arts thesis, which will explore issues of identity, memory, technological development and political change in China. Her medium will mainly be photography, but she expects to supplement her photographs with archival material in her parents’ possession.
During her junior year, with support from the Wilson School, Li spent the fall semester in Paris, where she attended classes at L’Institut d’etudes politiques. While there, she looked at case studies of immigration in the European Union. “Immigration is probably one of the most inflammatory topics you can bring up in Europe right now,” she says. She and four other students, working with an advisor at the school, ultimately developed a report recommending reforms in the citizenship process and redefining what it means to be an E.U. citizen.
In her spare time, she visited Paris’ galleries and museums and met other international students. “It was very enriching,” she says. “The first thing I say is that everyone needs to study abroad at least once.”
Through the Wilson School, she also has done two summer internships at the State Department. As a rising junior, she worked in the Policy Planning Office, providing research on articulating a long-term policy for the secretary of state. As a rising senior, she worked as a member of the economic policy staff in the Bureau of African Affairs.
For Li, her undergraduate time has not just been about work. She rowed on the crew team in high school, but when she came to Princeton she decided to try out for women’s rugby, a club sport that was recruiting aggressively. “I had no idea what a rugby ball even looked like,” she recalls. “But the team was helpful and amazing. They are all now my best friends. They’re the folks I study with, hang out with, and cry with about my finals.”
She rounds out her extracurricular life as a tour guide and as a tutor in French, statistics and economics in the residential college system.