Xiao Wang Dan Addison

The survival of democracies in undemocratic situations. The plight of the poor in booming economies.

For Xiao Wang, these are the sorts of paradoxes that fuel a passion for public policy.

The third-year economics student won a 2008 Truman Scholarship, worth about $30,000, for his leadership potential and commitment to public service. With sufficient credits to receive his bachelor’s degree this spring, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy this fall.

International law and economic development in emerging countries are focal points for Wang, whose family moved to the U.S. from China nearly 20 years ago. At UVA, he is both an Echols Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.

“China’s bustling economy has brought a lot of good things, but the job is far from finished,” he says. “Many people still live in absolute poverty and, to me, helping these people climb onto the ladder of economic opportunity is what public policy is all about.”

In addition to the Truman Scholarship, Wang has received a Harrison Research Award and a Dean’s Scholarship for Independent Research.

Part of his work examined the plight of democracy in Hong Kong.

“His research demonstrated that a democratic spirit has continued to develop among the citizens, but the development of the political parties has been stunted,” says economics professor and mentor Mary Stegmaier. “Xiao has sought ways to enhance his education by taking challenging courses and through independent research.”