Hobart and William Smith Colleges have recently been accepted as a new participant in the prestigious Luce Scholars Program, which funds graduating seniors and recent alums on a year-long professional placement in one of 15 Asian countries.
“It’s a program of enormous reputation,” says Professor of Sociology Jack Harris. “Hobart and William Smith are honored to be included in what is a list of very distinguished and distinctive schools.”
Unlike some other scholarship programs, the Luce program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Professional placements are arranged for each scholar on the basis of his or her individual interest, background, qualifications and experience. Each scholar spends July and August studying the language of the placement country, and the work assignments run for approximately 10 months from September until July of the following year. The placements are intended primarily as learning opportunities for the scholars.
“The Henry Luce Foundation is very interested in giving students opportunities to experience Asia,” says Renee Nearpass, Assistant Director of Health Professions Counseling and Fellowship Advising in the Salisbury Center for Career Services and the campus liaison for the Luce Foundation. “It’s really a great program because it allows the scholars to be immersed in a culture differently than in academic abroad experiences-which is to say professionally.”
While the program is highly competitive-with nearly 200 students from more than 70 schools vying for fewer than 20 spots-the Colleges seem to have struck a chord with the Luce Foundation representatives.
“We had a visit from the Luce Foundation last semester, and they were impressed with our Global Education program, environmental studies program and Asian studies program,” says Harris. “We are one of the few places pursuing a linkage between environmental studies and Asian studies.”
Luce Scholars have backgrounds in virtually any field other than Asian studies, including but hardly limited to medicine and public health, the arts, law, science, environmental studies, international development, and journalism. Placements can be made in the following countries or regions in East and Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
As a participating institution, the Colleges nominate up to three individuals from the current student body and/or the pool of recent alums. A national interview with each nominee will be held in November and December either in person or via telephone. Early in January, approximately 45 finalists will be selected from the pool of nominees. They will be invited to appear, at Foundation expense, before one of three independent selection committees that meet in early February. The members of a selection committee will each personally interview the 15 finalists appearing before the committee from who five to six Luce Scholars will be chosen. All 15 to 18 Luce Scholars will have been named by mid-February.
“The Foundation selects high achieving, highly motivated applicants who haven’t specifically had Asia on their radar in order to put Asia on their radar,” says Harris. “And the one of the great things is that in lots of ways, direct and indirect, participants in programs like this bring these new experiences back to HWS.”