Sara Merican, a 2020 University of Pennsylvania graduate, has been awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in film and screen studies at the University of Cambridge in England.
From Singapore, Merican is one of about 80 Gates Cambridge Scholars chosen worldwide in 2022. The scholarship covers the full cost of studying at Cambridge for as long as four years, as well as additional discretionary funding. Students are selected for academic excellence, demonstrated capacity for leadership, and a commitment to improving the world.
At Penn, Merican was an English and cinema studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a concentration in creative writing, and a minor in East Asian languages and civilizations. She completed an honors thesis in cinema studies on class rage in the Korean film “Parasite,” and an honors thesis in creative writing entitled “Reclamation: Nature, City, and Memory in Singapore.”
As an undergraduate, she was a writer for The Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street and completed a summer editorial internship at The Hollywood Reporter. She studied a year abroad at Pembroke College at Cambridge and a semester abroad at Yonsei University in South Korea. She also completed the Penn-in-Cannes summer program as well as a summer program in Prague with Yale University studying Czech film. She attended Penn on a full-tuition scholarship from the Singapore government.
Merican recently worked with Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information. She also writes about Asian cinema and television for various publications. Previously she was a programming executive at the Singapore International Film Festival.
While pursuing her master’s at the University of Cambridge, Merican says she plans to explore the intersection between cinema and ethics, particularly in the relationships between spectacle, morality, onscreen violence, and narratives of inequality.
Merican is Penn’s 34th Gates Cambridge Scholar since the program’s inception in 2001. She is the second Penn alum awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year. Erin Hayes, who received her bachelor’s degree from the College in astrophysics and master’s degree from the School of Arts & Sciences in physics in May, was one of 23 from the United States named Gates Cambridge Scholars in February.