Recent Bioengineering undergraduate students Alton Cao (B.S. ’19) and Amanda Nguyen (B.S. ’21) have each received scholarships to pursue studies in global health through Japan’s MEXT Scholarship program. Alton is flying to Japan this autumn to begin his studies, and Amanda is currently studying virtually and expects to study in Japan beginning in December.
This scholarship is funded by the Japanese government each year to assist students interested in studying at Japanese universities. MEXT, an abbreviation for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, offers scholarships for undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. studies.
Meet these two global health MEXT Scholars:
A previous Amgen Scholars scholarship recipient and Marshall Scholarship national finalist, Alton Cao will be a post-baccalaureate research fellow at Keio University’s Graduate School of Medicine this fall and will begin a master’s program in International Health at the University of Tokyo starting April 2022. Alton’s research focus will be in global health epidemiology, with concentration on Japan’s COVID-19 response, health systems modelling and reform, and global burden of disease.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do this kind of research,” Alton said. “I’m interested in being able to experience a greater international perspective on these big health issues that are going to affect global society for years.”
As a first-generation college graduate, Alton spoke highly of his UW BioE education and praised the “amazing teaching faculty who have continued to support us post-graduation.” Alton especially appreciated the support of Associate Teaching Professor Alyssa Taylor, a 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award honoree. At UW, Alton served on a BioE JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) subcommittee leading the creation of a biotech industry-focused mentorship program, with a focus on supporting underrepresented undergraduate students in the department.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do this kind of research. I’m interested in being able to experience a greater international perspective on these big health issues that are going to affect our society for years.” – Alton Cao
Outside of his studies, Alton has worked as a chef and is an amateur ice cream maker. He is also multilingual, speaking Japanese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
UW BioE graduate Amanda Nguyen studied in Japan her junior year under the Amgen Scholars Program and is looking forward to returning to continue her research. She will focus on the field of optogenetics and sensor development in the master’s program at the University of Tokyo.
“The scholarship means so much,” Amanda said. “Having studied abroad really showed me how important global citizenship is not only in fostering scientific innovation but also in cultivating the cross-cultural collaboration necessary to improve our global society. I’m excited to make connections with people from across the world to create solutions to medical problems.”
In addition to the MEXT and Amgen Scholars scholarships, Amanda received a Gates Millennium Foundation scholarship to fund her undergraduate work at the UW, where she did her research with Assistant Professor Andre Berndt in the Department of Bioengineering. Amanda was also recognized as a 2020 Husky 100. The daughter of refugees, Amanda is the first in her family to attend college.
“I’m excited to make connections with people from all across the world to create solutions to medical problems.” – Amanda Nguyen
For fun, Amanda enjoys singing karaoke. “When I was in Tokyo, I was able to do karaoke for six hours straight. It was a great and fun way to improve my Japanese reading speed,” Amanda shared. She also enjoys watercolor painting, using her creativity to paint postcards that she sends out to her friends abroad.