Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Cecilia

Pioneer Academics > News > Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Cecilia

Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Cecilia

Cecilia website photo

“I’m interested in using existing knowledge to impact the system through policies for higher level changes.”

Pioneer scholar Cecilia, from Chengdu, China, is passionate about healthcare. When she was first thinking about applying to the Pioneer Research Program, she thought biology should be a choice for her research area, since that’s what she intended to study in college. However, after a little reflection, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to study something new and applied instead for sociology and anthropology. The result changed her thinking entirely.

Cecilia’s research concentration was in nonverbal communication, and she wanted to link this somehow with her interest in healthcare. After a lot of brainstorming with her professor and independent research, she devised her creative research topic: a comparison of the nonverbal communication between doctors and patients in Chinese hospitals offering Western medicine and those offering traditional Chinese medicine.

Cecilia had some personal experience as background for her research. She says she was sick a lot when she was a child, and didn’t have a strong immune system, and was taken to both kinds of hospitals for treatment. She became aware that she was treated and spoken to differently at the different kinds of hospitals. Also, as an older child, she would notice how doctors and patients were interacting when she walked by the many clinics in her neighborhood.

Cecilia’s Pioneer Research Program provided the opportunity to add an academic dimension to her personal experiences. Because her program was in 2016, pre-pandemic, she was able to visit hospitals, shadow doctors, and observe interactions. She found there were clear differences. Chinese medicine hospitals tended to be less crowded, and the doctors spent more time with their patients and were more likely to have ongoing relationships with them. On the whole, the patients were better satisfied with their treatment. “Patients generally feel like they are treated more as a human when they go into traditional Chinese medicine.”

Doing this work changed Cecilia’s mindset. Rather than focusing entirely on biology in college, Cecilia is now in her last year of a dual degree program in the University of Pennsylvania biology department and the Wharton School of Business, where she is studying computational biology and statistics in healthcare management.

Participating in a research program on hospital management in Nairobi, Kenya in her freshman year, and doing an internship with the National Institutes of Health in her sophomore year expanded Cecilia’s thinking even more. She now has two principal interests. One is maternal health. Cecilia has observed that treatment of pregnant mothers tends to focus on the health of the child rather than the mother, and wonders if there might be a better approach to maternal health. She is also interested in working on ways that would help different countries improve their healthcare systems’ response to pandemics.

In the long term, Cecilia plans to focus on healthcare policy and global health. Before that, a Schwartzman scholarship at Beijing’s Tsinghua University will bring her back to China next year.

Dear educator friend,

In the critical process of preparing students to transition to college, you are key. The
ramifications of your guidance are far-reaching.

The Pioneer Research Program believes that it, too, has a role to play in preparing students of special potential and passion for learning. This is a role we trust you will appreciate knowing about. Our mission is to offer a deep and otherwise unavailable opportunity to exceptionally motivated young scholars who want to learn and research at the college level and to explore their potential for innovation.

What makes Pioneer a unique deep-dive learning experience is not just the mentorship of distinguished professors. It is the rigorous quality controls developed conjointly by Pioneer and Oberlin College. Professors (must) adhere to rubrics for

1) setting learning goals;

2) syllabus development;

3) oversight, feedback and evaluation, and

4) grading standardization.

This rigorous academic system is supported by thorough admission process and a high-minded ethics code. The combination gives students an exceptional learning experience that is brought to fruition in a college-level research paper documenting their findings.

You can follow this link Pioneer’s concrete academic system to learn more about the academic system. Academic quality control and academic oversight assure Pioneer’s focus is on learning and learners, and therefore all of our practices were built upon the following principles:

No conflict of interests Pioneer’s academic ethical standards
Because of its high academic and ethical standards, the Pioneer program has earned the trust of college admissions departments and formed the basis for the ground-breaking collaboration with Oberlin College. Pioneer scholars get two college credits upon completing their Pioneer research.

Click to learn about Pioneer and Oberlin College's groundbreaking academic collaboration.

Pioneer has a rigorous admission process. Students who have genuine academic interests and are highly motivated are a good fit with Pioneer’s values. Pioneer’s founding board insisted that Pioneer commit to a professor-blind policy during the application process, ensuring that applicants have authentic field interest and correct priorities. Consequently, no information about professors is released before admission to the program. This policy is much appreciated and respected by universities. Professor-blind admission policy
On this page is the critical information needed to meet your needs.

If you have additional questions, feel free to let us know how we can help you by emailing or calling 855-572-8863.


Matthew Jaskol

Founder & Program Director