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Yuan Zeng Ashley TanGraduate Student

Born to Bruneian and Singaporean parents, Tan Yuan Zeng Ashley received his Bachelor of Laws (Honors) with a Department of History minor in European Studies (French-Spanish-German) from the National University of Singapore, where he served on the House Committee, Pro Bono Executive Committee, and as a guest lecturer. Awarded a full scholarship to study at Tel Aviv University in Israel, he engaged in social enterprise, volunteered in different places including Palestine, and studied Middle Eastern History, Jewish Studies, Business, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Ashley’s greatest passions are history, languages, volunteering, and traveling. He has studied 14 languages including Korean, Hakka, and Hebrew. He has also worked and volunteered extensively, and traveled to 62 countries across six continents. Ashley teaches Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese, and has represented Singapore at the Germany and Hungary Polyglot Conferences. He translates for multinational organizations, government bodies and television shows such as Asia’s Got Talent. Ashley also worked as a Graduate Research Assistant and was elected to Middlebury’s Student Council while pursuing master's degrees in Translation & Interpretation (English-Chinese-French) and French (Pedagogy and Linguistics) on a full scholarship at Middlebury College and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He is also a J. Allen Tyler Scholar, Betty Jones Scholar, and Middlebury Scholar.

Ashley passed the bar examinations and served as a lawyer (Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court) and an Infantry Sergeant in the armed forces. He was featured in one of Singapore’s main newspapers and various publications for his achievements. He is also an Asian Future Leaders Scholar and R.J. Chao Memorial Asian Scholar who was awarded the Bai Xian Asia Institute research grant.

Ashley was a Yenching Scholar at the Yenching Academy of Peking University where he was awarded a full-ride scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in China Studies, History and Archaeology. At the Yenching Academy, Ashley was awarded the Award for Outstanding Academic Performance, the Award for Outstanding Contribution, the Peking University Merit Student Award, the Peking University International Students Academic Award, and the Yenching Academy opportunity grant for research. He was also the only international scholar to be awarded two full scholarships to study abroad at Yonsei University and Korea University where he was awarded the Academic Excellence Scholarship for being a top student and achieving an A+ grade for all his courses.

At Emory, Ashley is concurrently pursuing the History PhD and the Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies. He was awarded the Brickman-Levin Fellowship, the George P. Cuttino Scholarship for Research Outside of the United States, the Laney Graduate School Professional Development Support George P. Cuttino Scholarship for Research Outside of the United States, the Laney Graduate School Professional Development Support research grant, the National University of Singapore Development Grant, the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies research grant, and full funding to represent Emory at conferences and the Columbia University PhD archival training program in the Netherlands.

Ashley is most interested in the history of East Asia, late imperial and modern China, the Chinese diaspora, Jewish history, and global history.


  • O.B. National University of Singapore
  • M.A. Middlebury College
  • O.M. Peking University

Research Interests

East Asia
Late Imperial and Modern China
Chinese Diaspora
Jewish History
Global History



Faculty Advisors

Tonio Andrade