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Honors Student Dorothy Zhao is MSU’s 20th Marshall Scholar

By Brandi Stover

Since the moment she set foot on campus, Dorothy Zhao has been determined to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. In the classroom, she is pursuing three Bachelor of Science degrees in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Human Biology. Outside of it, she balances her time between two research labs, multiple student organizations, and volunteering at Haven House, a local homeless shelter.   

After a months-long application process, Zhao was recently named a national Marshall Scholar. This prestigious program supplies funding for outstanding students to study at a university of their choice in the United Kingdom for up to three years. Zhao is one of 51 Marshall Scholars this year, selected from a pool of over 1,000 applicants.

Headshot of Dorothy Zhao

“It is such a great honor to represent Michigan State and be its 20th Marshall Scholar,” Zhao said. “It’s an unreal feeling because I never would have dreamed of this when I first started at the university, and I am so grateful to all the professors, supervisors, and mentors who have helped shape me through undergrad and pushed me in applying for this award.”

Shaped by Spartan Experiences

Zhao intends to use this opportunity to further her research in deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients and treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders. She was drawn to these areas of study through her academic experiences at MSU and explored them further in a summer internship at the University of Oxford, where she intends to return to complete a Ph.D. with the funding from the program.

“My experiences at MSU have shaped who I am as a person beyond preparing me to be a Marshall Scholar,” Zhao said. “As a Spartan, I was able to have so many different experiences and become involved in so many different opportunities that have really helped me forge my own path.”

As Zhao began the application process to become a Marshall Scholar, she said she was forced to reexamine her interests and begin thinking critically about her future.  

“I started looking at the activities I was involved with, looking at the impact I wanted to make on the world, and starting to shape my story because you really have to think about what you’ve done, what you’re doing now, and what you want to do in the future to become a successful applicant,” Zhao said.

Honors College Assistance

Zhao said she is excited to fully immerse herself in a new culture, meet the new cohort of Marshall Scholars, and connect with students from across the United Kingdom. She is particularly grateful to the Honors College for facilitating the application process and providing her with the opportunities that allowed her to be a competitive candidate.  

“As an Honors College student, I was able to network with other honors students and participate in programs such as the Wielenga Research Scholars Program, Zhao said. That was really instrumental in my undergraduate career.” 

Zhao encourages anyone interested but intimidated by the award to take the first step anyway. She emphasized the differences between all scholars. Zhao said every applicant is unique, yet connected by a strong work ethic and desire to achieve success.  

“Don’t count yourself out,” Zhao said. “If you work hard, it will pay off.” 

Learn more about Zhao’s achievement as a Marshall Scholar in the initial press release here.

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