Nov 16th, 2016

#TheNextHLR: Yanci Wu

Yanci Wu 600X900

Six years ago, Yanci Wu immigrated to the US from China in order to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. After constantly being told that people from foreign countries were not fit to be in the creative fields, Yanci broke through barriers and received her degree from VCU in Graphic Design.

Now, Yanci is an Experience Designer and is working towards her Master’s in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter.

2016 was a year of wins for Yanci. She and her partner were named Cannes’ 2016 Future Lions, she was named the winner of WONGDODDY’s Women in Advertising Scholarship, and was chosen as the Asia Pacific winner for JWT’s Helen Landsdowne Resor (HLR) Scholarship

When I got the call from JWT informing me that I had been selected as a HLR Scholarship winner, I made sure to check for two things: first, that they called the right person, and second that it wasn’t a dream.

So yes, it was real.

My first reaction was to call my family in China, but I realized the time zone difference, so I ended up spending the afternoon dancing to Hakuna Matata with my dog, Pancake.

After calming down from the initial excitement, I started to reflect on the meaning behind receiving the scholarship. Yes, it is a lot of money, but more importantly, it showed validation and trust from one of the most prestigious and innovative agencies in the world. It helped me realize that I was better than I thought.

6 years ago, when I decided to come to the U.S. to study graphic design as a Chinese international student, I was told by my peers that science and math were supposed to be my strength; art and design were not for foreigners like me. I persisted, graduated, and was hired for my first job as a designer. I then decided to pursue advertising in graduate school and again was told that it wasn’t the smartest choice because of the language and cultural barriers.

Now, as a recipient of the HLR Scholarship, I would like to tell all international, minority, and female students that nothing and no one can prevent us from achieving anything besides our own doubt and fear. At this exciting time in our industry, with curiosity, courage, and persistence every one of us has the power to disrupt norms, challenge stereotypes, and be a game changer.

In my last year at the VCU Brandcenter, I’m striving to become a new breed of creatives – a kind that can think and act at the crossroad of art and science, data, and human truths.

Thank you, J. Walter Thompson, for being an essential part of this journey!

See Yanci’s portfolio here:

For more information and to apply, please visit Contact with any queries.

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