Scholar Will Head to Oxford, With Rotary’s Help

Jacqueline Chen
San Marino High School alumna Jacqueline Chen, a recent Harvard graduate, will study global health
science and epidemiology.

Economics and chemistry might seem an odd marriage for fields of study in college, but they made sense for what San Marino High School class of 2015 alumna Jacqueline Chen wanted out of Harvard.
Now that she has earned that bachelor’s degree, complete with an undergraduate thesis that wed the two academic areas, Chen will start graduate school at England’s Oxford University this fall as the latest recipient of Rotary International’s Global Grant Scholarship.
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying the U.S. health-care system, and I’m really excited to fly across the pond to see how the health-care systems work in other countries,” Chen said, speaking by phone from Boston. “I think we have a lot to do to make our health-care system better, and it would be really interesting to see how we can adopt other countries’ policies to fit our health-care system and make it more efficient and affordable.”
At Oxford, Chen will study global health science and epidemiology, with a goal of working toward creating more affordable tools and care. Her studies at Harvard that focused on the economic forces driving the pharmaceutical industry, combined with her conceptual understanding of the science the industry works with, may prove key to her accomplishing that.
“I was really interested in both social studies and sciences, and this was a really good way to look at them together,” Chen said.
Before flying to the United Kingdom in October, Chen said, she’s keeping busy with additional research on health-care innovation through the pharmaceutical industry, which is “essentially an extension of my undergraduate thesis.” That thesis concerns “biosimilars,” an industry term that differentiates generic drugs that can’t be reliably replicated from original patents because of non-synthetic composition.
While at SMHS, Chen distinguished herself as a speed skater; she is a four-time U.S. national champion skater and was a member of the short track national team. Chen also is the youngest female to qualify for the 2014 U.S. Olympic trials and earned a mention in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in 2014.
Chen said she has coached skating at Boston-area clubs while at Harvard, something she’s also done since she was in middle school, and was open to continuing involvement in athletics in some capacity at Oxford.
“It’s something that I’ve always really liked,” Chen said of coaching. “I do hope to continue being active in intramural sports, but I’m not sure how big skating is over there.”
Chen said academics, of course, will remain her focus at Oxford and added she hopes to explore other parts of Europe as part of her studies. The university’s proclivity for admitting international students will prove a key factor, Chen added. (By coincidence, SMHS alumna Nicole Grajewski also is studying at Oxford on the same scholarship.)
“Many of the scholars there are from all over the world and that makes it a very interesting learning environment,” Chen said. “I feel very blessed to have the support of the Rotary Club, and I’m so excited to be an ambassador.”
Rotary International awards its Global Grant Scholarship to applicants whose academic focuses align with one or more of the organization’s designated platforms — disease prevention and treatment, in Chen’s case. Chen’s scholarship is for $31,000, and she becomes the 28th Rotary Club of San Marino-sponsored applicant to receive the award, formerly called the Ambassadorial Scholarship.

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