by Mike Lucas for Rutgers Today
Mount Laurel native Nina Gohel is receiving full funding to take part in a master’s degree program at the postgraduate college of Peking University
Nina Gohel, the daughter of immigrants of Indian descent who aims to help ensure gender equity across the globe, has been selected as a Yenching Scholar, which promotes global progress and cultural understanding.
Recipients of the fellowship are awarded full funding to pursue a two-year interdisciplinary China studies master’s degree program at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in China.
“My motivation for applying to this fellowship was driven by my passion for gender equity and the chance to learn firsthand about legislative solutions from one of our world’s foremost global powers,” said Gohel, who graduated from Rutgers University–New Brunswick in May and will attend Yenching Academy in the fall.
Gohel plans to observe China’s legislative gender quotas and evaluate their effectiveness to increase representation, review progress made by state organizations’ equity campaigns and analyze the success of corresponding training programs to equip women to run for office.
“My research will aim to explore and comprehend this system while conducting a comparative study of analogous systems in other countries,” said Gohel, adding she will be working toward earning a master’s degree in law and society. “Ultimately, my goal is to devise a universally applicable model that can effectively advance gender equity on a global scale.”
Anne Wallen, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships at Rutgers, described the fellowship as academically rigorous.
“It’s an opportunity for American students to really learn about China in a rich academic environment,” said Wallen, adding that she hopes the news about Gohel’s fellowship “gets more students excited about these opportunities for studying internationally after they graduate.”
A Mount Laurel native, Gohel graduated summa cum laude in May, earning dual majors in political science from the School of Arts and Sciences and planning and public policy from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy as well as a triple minor in economics, philosophy and philosophy, politics and economics.
Gohel said that growing up her parents never truly felt that the government represented people like them, which is why she values civic engagement as a means of increasing political representation.
Gohel received the Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor-Provost Revolutionary Award for her work increasing voter turnout and registration through the Eagleton Institute’s Darien Civic Engagement Project. Gohel’s efforts included conducting tabling sessions and creating digital content that aimed to register, mobilize and engage students in local, state and national elections.
It’s an opportunity for American students to really learn about China in a rich academic environment.
director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships at Rutgers
During the gubernatorial election cycle, Gohel collaborated with the Eagleton Institute and the Rutgers University Student Assembly to provide easy access to polling locations for Rutgers students by funding bus transportation to Parsons Elementary School for Cook Campus students.
At Rutgers, Gohel was the first Asian American and Pacific Islander woman to be elected as vice president of the student body. During college, Gohel was an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Council, where she helped reintroduce staff diversity, equity and inclusion training eliminated under the administration of President Donald Trump.
She is a founder and president of AAPI Advocacy Alliance, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting Asian American Pacific Islanders representation in government and public service, as well as a Rutgers Honors Scholar, a Ralph W. Voorhees Service Fellow, an Eagleton Undergraduate Associate and a member of the Matthew Leydt Society and Phi Beta Kappa.
During her 2022 Rutgers Summer Service Internship in the Office of Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Gohel brainstormed ideas for new legislation that could address the unmet needs of New Jersey residents. As someone with potentially deadly food allergies, she delved into research that led to potential legislation modeled after an Edison ordinance that will better protect diners and reduce restaurant liability.
Each year, the Yenching Academy selects 120 students worldwide for the fellowship; the overall selection rate varies yearly from 2 to 3 percent of applicants.