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A Ma Scholar Reflects on Meeting Karl C.K. Ma and Other Awardees Working Across the Globe

Kayoung Lee meeting Karl C.K. Ma

Kayoung Lee meeting Karl C.K. Ma

Karl C.K. Ma has made a gift to the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies in the amount of $2.5 million. Of that sum, $2 million will be used to establish the Karl C.K. Ma Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund, and the remaining $500,000 will be used to establish an expendable fund. The purpose of Ma’s gift is to provide need-based support to graduate students from Asia who wish to pursue careers in public service, particularly those in the Schools of Social Work, Education, and Nursing. Ma also hopes his gift will support students whose research or primary scholarly focus is on the study and preservation of Asian cultures, including Asian regional studies, music, art, language, and literature. You can read more about the Karl C.K. Ma Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund in this recent post on our blog. You can also find an interview with Karl C.K. Ma on our blog.

The following entry is a graduate student’s account of benefiting from funding provided through the Karl C.K. Ma Endowed Graduate Scholarship Fund, and her experience meeting Karl C.K. Ma in person during his recent campus visit.

I am Kayoung Lee, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Nursing. Before coming to U-M, I worked as a nurse in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit at Yonsei University Health System, Seoul, South Korea. I came to the U.S. to pursue my Master’s degree at Boston College to become a Nurse Practitioner. Throughout my nursing education, I have learned the importance of holistic health care, which not only focuses on eliminating pathological factors, but also considers the environmental or societal impacts on health. I wanted to know how holistic care can be visible in research and how it can be implemented in healthcare policy. I decided to apply for the Ph.D. program in nursing at U-M that focuses on health systems, populations, and leadership. My research interests are injury prevention and environmental safety for older people with heart failure. Many heart failure patients have symptoms that predispose them to falls. Fall-related injuries often make performing daily activities difficult, which can increase the long-term care admission and healthcare costs. My dissertation research examines the effects of heart failure on falls and identifying personal and environmental risk factors for falls among community-dwelling older adults with heart failure. I hope that my research can provide empirical evidence that will lead to better interventions for patients.

For international students in health or social science, there are very few opportunities to apply for fellowships or scholarships. Sometimes, this fact makes students feel discouraged and creates financial difficulties. Thankfully, a few months ago, my Ph.D. program director announced that I was selected to receive the Karl C.K. Ma Award for Asian Ph.D. candidates studying in health or social science fields. Through the Karl C.K. Ma Award, I was able to receive full funding for the spring/summer and fall semesters 2017. The Karl C.K. Ma Award allowed me to devote a great amount of time to my dissertation to complete my program in a timely manner. I am sincerely grateful for the Karl C.K. Ma Endowed Scholarship. It is a great honor for me to have received this award.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Ma and other Karl C.K. Ma scholars in person. During the meeting in Ann Arbor, we had a video call with two Karl C.K. Ma scholars, one in Vietnam and one in Paris, working on their research projects. I was impressed that they were humble and ready to listen to others. Mr. Ma currently serves as the Executive Director and Chairman of his company, which is related to high technology. However, he said that as a human being, he felt a responsibility to promote social science by supporting U-M graduate students who address societal issues around the world. One of the Ma scholars, Hayeon Lee, from South Korea, is a Ph.D. student in social Work and anthropology, and is currently in Vietnam for her research on Vietnamese immigrant women in South Korea. Another Ma scholar, Minh Huynh, from Vietnam, is a Ph.D. student in educational studies, and is currently in Paris, interning at UNESCO. They inspired me with their enthusiasm for helping vulnerable populations and improving educational quality and equity. We are from different countries and studying in different disciplines; however, we easily felt connected to each other through our shared interest in addressing societal problems and our similar future goals. As international students, we came to U-M to build our knowledge and our futures. With this academic experience, we hope to help vulnerable or underserved people around the world as researchers.

Kayoung Lee and Karl C.K. Ma video chatting with other Ma scholars.

Kayoung Lee and Karl C.K. Ma video chatting with other Ma scholars.

I am very thankful to Mr. Ma for his commitment to supporting international students. I am also thankful to Rackham for giving me this opportunity to share my experience. I would further like to thank my mentors, Dr. Marita Titler, Dr. Matthew Davis, and our Ph.D. program director, Dr. Ellen Smith, for their tremendous support and encouragement throughout my Ph.D. program. I feel very fortunate and humbled to be a Karl C.K. Ma Scholar and proud to be part of Rackham.


The views expressed in this post are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of Rackham Graduate School or the University of Michigan.