Scholarship spark: fuelling Li's LSHTM dream

Li's LSHTM dream ignited amidst hardship with the help of the LSHTM Next Generation scholarship. From financial hardship to a PhD, a scholarship fuelled his leap into health policy. Now, he debates, learns, and thrives in the diverse, inclusive hub of LSHTM. Read his blog to understand more about his journey studying MSc Health Policy, Planning & Financing with LSHTM and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Li Zhao

Tell us more about your academic journey before you joined LSHTM.

Before joining LSHTM, I obtained my PhD in Biomedical Materials from the University of London, where my research was focused on developing a variety of sustained-release drug delivery systems. I also had extensive experience in developing different pharmaceutical formulations. 

What barriers would you say you have you faced during your education?

I grew up in a poor background, so during my childhood I encountered a lot of financial constraints as well as discrimination from classmates.   

How have the barriers you’ve faced shaped your academic and personal development?

It wasn't easy for a young boy both financially and mentally. But I never gave up. My response to all these difficulties in my life was to study and work harder as I believed that I could change my life through education and hard work. Eventually, I attended university and got a PhD, which enabled me to develop new pharmaceutical technologies that can potentially help more people. I also became much more confident than before. 

What advice would you give to help someone overcome similar challenges?

My advice to those facing similar challenges is never give up. You are not alone. There are so many people around the world who are in a more desperate situation. It is the challenges and difficulties you went through in your life that make you a better and stronger person. Don't panic, have a goal, believe in yourself and work towards it. Eventually your efforts will pay off. 

As a scholarship recipient, how would you describe the impact this has had on you?

I would not have been able to study MSc Health Policy, Planning & Financing at LSHTM and LSE without this precious scholarship, which provided me with a chance to do something I am passionate about (health policy) in the future. 

Many of our scholarships are kindly funded through philanthropy – what message would you like to share with someone considering contributing to our scholarship programme?

I would like to thank all our scholarship sponsors - without their contribution many of us would not have had this opportunity to study at LSHTM. For those who are considering contributing to our scholarship programme, please do not hesitate. It is your philanthropy and generosity that make it possible to train our next generation scientists and scholars at LSHTM, who will make our world a better place to live in. 

How are you finding your programme so far?

I have been really enjoying my course of MSc Health Policy, Planning & Financing so far. Since it is a health policy and economics focused course, it has given me a completely different experience than my previous study in natural science and engineering. There is no right or wrong answer in health policy and we got to discuss and debate our ideas on different policies and how we can make our world a better place. It has been a fantastic experience.   

Can you talk about any of the Student Support Services you’ve accessed and how they’ve helped you settle into your studies so far?

The student support services at LSHTM have been brilliant. I had an ankle injury last year and it is still affecting my daily life. The student support services helped me find accommodation at one of the University of London halls, which allowed me to focus on my studies rather than having to spend a lot of time on finding suitable accommodation. 

What has surprised you about LSHTM?   

What has really surprised me is the diversity at LSHTM. Students from all over the world came here to study. Another thing that surprised me is the inclusiveness at the School. People are open to different opinions and values. We are always encouraged to bring up our own ideas and discuss them with our professors and peers. 

What are your plans for after your MSc degree?

I would like to find a health policy consultant/analyst job at international organisations such as WHO. But if I do not get such opportunities, I may return to the pharmaceutical industry, where I can continue to develop new drug products. 

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for your programme and/or the Next Generation scholarship at LSHTM?

I would strongly encourage people who are considering applying to take action! It is definitely worth it. Here, you get to receive a world-class education and meet internationally renowned academics. Most importantly, it opens so many doors for your future. The School has very generously provided a variety of scholarship opportunities, such as the Next Generation Scholarships. I would say go for it!