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St. Olaf student receives prestigious Princeton in Asia Fellowship

Miriam Clapp '24 recently accepted the prestigious Princeton in Asia Fellowship where she will spend a year working in Taiwan at a startup incubator.
Miriam Clapp ’24 recently accepted the prestigious Princeton in Asia Fellowship and will spend a year working in Taiwan at a startup incubator. Photo by Mindyrose Sinykin ’25

St. Olaf College student Miriam Clapp ’24 has been awarded the prestigious Princeton in Asia Fellowship and will spend a year working in Taiwan at a startup incubator. 

The mission of Princeton in Asia is to foster mutual appreciation and cross-cultural understanding between the United States and Asia through immersive work fellowships in host organizations and communities. The program receives around 600 applicants each year and has an acceptance rate of 10 percent. Clapp’s fellowship will provide her with a unique opportunity to leverage her Chinese language and consulting background in a global setting.

At St. Olaf, Clapp majors in quantitative economics and Chinese, plays violin in the St. Olaf Orchestra, and has studied abroad in Taiwan. This wide variety of interests, combined with her hard work, has resulted in several impressive postgraduate opportunities. In addition to receiving the Princeton in Asia Fellowship, Clapp also received a Fulbright Fellowship offer to teach in Taiwan.

In this Q&A, Miriam discusses her journey through St. Olaf and how she came to know the Princeton in Asia Fellowship was the best fit for her goal of expanding her cross-cultural skills.

How did you manage your time with all of your activities at St. Olaf?
Music is probably my biggest passion and interest outside of my academics. It’s where I find a lot of community and so it almost doesn’t really feel like a big time suck because I’m spending time with so many people. There definitely was a point in junior year where I realized I was doing too much and needed to step away from a few things. So I did, and it was really helpful. That happened after I studied abroad — I got a little more perspective on how to spend my time.

Where did you study abroad?
I studied at National Taiwan University in Taipei in Fall 2022. I took classes in political science, Chinese language, and even an entomology class. I really enjoyed living in Taipei. It’s super walkable, and there’s just so much to do there. Taiwan’s a really small country, but there’s so much to see: big cities, super remote areas, mountains, beaches. When I came home, I knew I needed to get back to Taiwan. 

What are you planning to do during the Princeton in Asia Fellowship?
I’ll be working at a startup incubator in Taiwan called Startup Island, helping with their international expansion initiatives. Programs at St. Olaf sparked my interest in startups and entrepreneurship. I participated in the Entrepreneurial Scholars and Norway Innovation Scholars programs through the Piper Center for Vocation and Career. Both of those programs gave me the opportunity to work with startups and motivated me to apply for the Princeton in Asia Fellowship.

What other opportunities did you consider before accepting the Princeton in Asia Fellowship?
I was accepted to graduate programs in China and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan, but turned them down. As I learned more about the Princeton in Asia fellowship through my interview process, it became clear to me that the program would answer some of the bigger questions that I’ve been thinking about over the last year. Like, do I want to be living in Asia, or in Taiwan? Do I want to be speaking Chinese at work? What’s it like to live and work away from home? 

How did St. Olaf prepare you for this opportunity?
The alumni network helped me get internships and make connections. Professors were incredibly supportive through advice, recommendations, and editing applications. The Piper Center was also a huge resource. St. Olaf showed me the diversity of paths you can take with one degree.

What does meaningful vocation mean to you?
It’s about discovering a community where you feel you belong and serving it in whatever way you can — whether that’s your work community, local community, or a combination. For me, the cross-cultural aspect of working in Taiwan is really exciting and meaningful, and I can’t wait to get back to Taiwan.