Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

The Luce Scholars Program represents a major effort by the Henry Luce Foundation to provide an awareness of Asia among potential leaders in American society. Launched in 1974, the Luce Scholars Program is aimed at a group of highly qualified young Americans in a variety of professional fields. It is unique among American-Asian exchanges in that it is intended for young leaders who have had limited experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia. The Program provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for fifteen to eighteen young Americans each year.

View the Luce Scholars directory for a comprehensive list of recent scholars.


2020-21 UW Undergraduate Nominees:

Lucille Holmes-Anderson
Miranda Perry
Roshni Sinha

Lucille Holmes-Anderson, Nominee

Senior, International Studies

Lucille is a transfer student and senior at UW majoring in International Studies with a focus on International Human Rights. During her time at UW she received a 2020-2021 academic year Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship and was accepted into the Jackson School departmental honors program where she is currently working on a research thesis examining how narratives in news media contribute prejudice and discriminatory attitudes towards marginalized communities. In addition to pursuing her Bachelor’s, she also works as a corporate paralegal at Big Fish Games, primarily focusing on commercial contracts and privacy-related issues.

Lucille was homeschooled for her childhood and early adolescence before she started the Running Start program. She received her A.A. from Cascadia College, and upon graduating in 2014 she joined the AmeriCorps NCCC national service program where she served for a full year term and worked with a variety of organizations throughout the mid- and southwest United States. Her time in AmeriCorps reinforced her passion for public and community service that she had developed as a child, an interest which only continued to grow as she moved back to Seattle and started working in the games industry. She spent a significant amount of time working as a Developer Relations Manager; in this role she handled partner relations, contract negotiations, and business project management for several dozen game development studios, which helped her to develop and hone skills supporting and empowering the individuals and organizations she worked with. She worked in that role until autumn of 2019, when she chose to return to school with the goal of pursuing a law degree and channeling her interest in law and policy into a career serving others.

Lucille is particularly interested in the fields of environmental and immigration law and policy, especially as they relate to addressing serious issues like climate change, system inequities, and oppressive systems. Her goal is to pursue a career where she can use her skills and passions to support activists and communities working to create better systems for everyone around the globe.

Lucille’s near-term and long-term goals: In the mid-term, Lucille plans to attend law school and begin working as a practicing attorney, ideally after spending some time working and studying internationally to gain more professional experience in the fields she’s interested in. In the longer term, she hopes to establish a career supporting activists and community organizations fighting against inequality, inequity, and injustice both within and outside of the United States. Environmental issues do not impact everyone equally, and her goal is to contribute to the fight against climate change and the various systems that feed into it.

Lucille’s tips for future applicants: Take some time to really read through the website and at some of the previous scholar profiles. It can be helpful to get an idea of what some other people’s experiences have been as you’re thinking about your application and why you’re excited about the program. It also may be kind of cheesy, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. It helps the program get to know you better and it makes it a more enjoyable experience as you’re going through the application process.


Miranda Perry, Nominee

Senior, Public Health-Global Health

Ever since she can remember, Randi has had a love of science which later grew into a passion for medicine and healthcare by the time she entered high school. At age 16, she became a certified nursing assistant and by age 18, she graduated top of her class to become a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician, where she worked with the fire department as a first responder and further refined her field of interest to focus on acute care. It was through her hands-on experience with patients she discovered just how much of an impact the interaction between caregiver and patient could have on both parties, which inspired her to pursue a career as a physician.

Here at the University of Washington, Randi discovered Global Health and quickly fell in love with the field. She is currently a senior, working towards her B.S. in Public Health-Global Health with departmental honors. Outside of her coursework, Randi was an undergraduate research intern with the Global Mental Health (GMH) Program, where she contributed to the qualitative analysis of data and composed a review of literature in preparation for the AFRICOS project. Randi is also a part of the GMH communications team where she authors the faculty/project spotlight for the program’s monthly newsletter.

Outside of her domestic endeavors, Randi spent the summer of 2019 in Ecuador as an intern with Child and Family Health International. There she collaborated with the ministry of health to perform outreach and collect data as well as study medical practices in urban clinics, rural clinics, rural hospitals, and an indigenous group outside of Puyo.

All of these experiences drive her to continue to fight health inequities around the world, a goal she will continue to strive to meet post-graduation.

Miranda’s near-term and long-term goals: After graduating Randi plans to spend 1-2 years abroad gaining international experience in the field of Global Health before applying to Medical School. Her ultimate goal is to become a physician working for an international organization such as Doctors without Borders (MSF) or UNICEF.

Miranda’s tips for future applicants: I would recommend spending some time reflecting on why you want to go to Asia specifically, and how you will apply what you learn in the future.


Roshni Sinha, Nominee

Senior, Medical Anthropology and Global Health; International Studies

Roshni Sinha is a fifth-year senior from Cupertino, California pursuing a B.S. in Medical Anthropology and Global Health and a B.A. in International Studies with a focus on International Human Rights. Roshni is a participant in the Anthropology Honors program, through which she wrote her honors thesis on the construction of memory and identity in Ethiopian adoptees in the Seattle area. Her passion for human rights and women’s rights have been shaped by the media she watched growing up and her own experiences as a Bengali-American woman living in America and traveling abroad.

After coming to the University of Washington, Roshni was involved both on and off campus through becoming a Program Leader at Unite UW, interning at the Refugee Women’s Alliance, co-coordinating a project on Human Rights and Forensic Anthropology in Latin America, becoming the Director of UW Leaders, interning for law enforcement to work on human trafficking cases, and more. Roshni has been influenced by all the individuals who believed in her and challenged her to become the leader she is today. She believes that anyone is capable of becoming a leader, but not everyone has the confidence or resources to reach their potential. She also believes that leadership extends to daily life in the form of taking initiative, especially in the face of injustice. Because of this, Roshni is passionate about empowering individuals from all backgrounds in developing their own kind of leadership and pursuing their dreams.

Roshni is passionate about supporting refugees, fighting human trafficking, working toward gender equality, and forensic anthropology. After college, she hopes to spend some time abroad developing her perspective on all these issues before pursuing graduate degrees in Human Rights and Forensic Anthropology. Roshni plans to work for an international humanitarian organization in the future at the intersection of human rights and forensic investigation so she can work with other driven individuals on issues of truth, justice, and reconciliation in post-conflict settings.

Roshni’s near-term and long-term goals: My near goal is to travel, go to graduate school to get a degree in Human Rights, and to work for a humanitarian organization to support refugees and fight human trafficking. My longer term goal is to get a graduate degree in Forensic Anthropology and return to working for a humanitarian organization at the intersection of human rights and forensic investigation in post-conflict settings.

Roshni’s tips for future applicants: I advise working closely with the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards by scheduling review appointments well in advance! I also recommend asking friends, mentors, and others to edit your personal statement when possible. Lastly, I advise taking some time to to learn to strongly articulate your passions and how the Luce Scholars program can help you pursue them.


History of UW Undergraduate Nominees, Finalists, and Scholars since 2009

2019 - 2020

Elizabeth Calvillo, Nominee

Senior, Art and International Studies majors

Elizabeth is a senior majoring in Photo/Media and is participating in Departmental Honors. She is double majoring with International Studies with a focus on Human Rights. Her other areas of interest include international immigration history and policy, as well as diaspora studies. She focuses heavily on working with archives, found objects, and multiple medias to create artwork that pose necessary questions. She draws inspiration from the random stories shared with her at random times.

Elizabeth’s tips for future applicants:
Giving yourself plenty of time is very important for this scholarship, and most other scholarships. Give yourself time to write whatever is required, but also time to have one or two people read it and offer feedback. Communicate with your references so they understand what the scholarship is about, why you are a good fit, and how it might help you achieve your goals. And finally, be yourself throughout the application process and interviews.


Danielle Carrasquero, Nominee

2019 graduate, Political Science major

I am passionate about education, equity and inclusion, and justice. While these passions have taken different forms, they have remained a constant. For example, I have been doing student leadership since the ninth grade. At the time, inclusion looked like creating opportunities for new students to get connected at school and justice looked like tackling bullying and launching kindness campaigns. As I have gotten older and learned more about the world around me, so too have my passions matured. Now, I am interested in opportunities to bring justice to those most marginalized. To include everyone in our democracy, and to educate folks about how to get involved in community and in political processes. In particular, I would love to do work that involves racial justice. Today, this looks like me working on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for President over the past 6 months. Beyond this next step, my career vision is to campaign work (and other opportunities that make a difference), eventually serve my communities in an elected office or a public administration role, and use these experiences to teach at the college level.

Danielle’s tips for future applicants: Begin early and utilize advisors as a resource! If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by making a list of what needs to get done. Then, begin with rough draft outlines. It will be much easier to stay in motion once you take the first step.


2018 - 2019

Connor Edick, Nominee

2018 graduate, Public Health major

Photo by Bryan Nakata

Connor Edick is a recent graduate from the University of Washington, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Public Health. As an undergraduate student he focused heavily on public health nutrition and is now seeking to further his knowledge in this field. During his senior year Connor had the opportunity to contribute to a variety of global nutrition research projects under the mentorship of the Nutrition Innovations team at PATH, where he was introduced to concepts and ideas in the nutrition world that revivified his original passion for food and health while framing his interests in the global context. Whether integrating traditionally consumed foods into culturally appropriate nutrition interventions or using fortified dietary staples to increase the intake of micronutrients essential for development and immunity, there are many strategies for improving health outcomes in undernourished populations and Connor is eager to explore them all. Going forward he aims to find opportunities that will allow him to travel abroad while sustaining the momentum he built as a student toward realizing his professional goals.

During his free time Connor is an avid backpacker, hiker, and snowboarder. He loves the Pacific Northwest for everything it has to offer and intends to return periodically to the mountains and wilderness here no matter where his academic and career pursuits may lead.

Connor’s tips for future applicants:
Consider how the scholarship you are applying for will set you on a path, both professionally and personally, that aligns with the mission of the grant-making organization.


Binh Truong, Nominee

Senior, International Studies major

Photo by Bryan Nakata

Binh is an immigrant from Vietnam majoring in International Studies with a focus on foreign policy, diplomacy, peace and security. Binh’s research interest is in communication between different political parties and the difference between policy and what happens on-the-ground. Binh is currently completing their Honor’s Thesis on political memes during political flash points. Other research projects includes a partnership between the Applied Research Program and Microsoft on threats to democratic processes.

Growing up in a diverse neighborhood nurtured a curiosity in different cultures and people which inspired them to become a Foreign Service Officer in Public Diplomacy. They seek to learn more about cross-cultural communication and exchange on the Luce Program. And of course, further developing themselves as someone that will represent America, as diverse a country as it is. When Binh is not researching or working, they can be found eating and/or reading. Binh is proud of their ability to do both simultaneous while walking.

Binh’s tips for future applicants:
Be clear in your intentions and focus with the Luce Program! Why are you going and why does it matter (not just to you).

2017 - 2018

Annie Lewis, Nominee

Senior, English and History major, Spanish and Jewish Studies minor

Annie Lewis

Hello! My name is Annie. I’m a senior double majoring in English and History and double minoring in Spanish and Jewish studies. Intellectual challenge, community building, and student empowerment—three of my top values—are exemplified by my participation in three University Honors Programs: Interdisciplinary Honors, English Departmental Honors, and History Departmental Honors. My specialty knowledge in English is focused on trauma studies, identity and identity-based conflict, and modernity. In history, I am most well-versed in holocaust studies, Jewish studies and European history. After graduation, I plan on having a career in Academic Support Programs. In Academic Support Programs, much of my work would be with multilingual learners, so the Luce Scholars Program and a potential fellowship placement in an Asian education setting is very appealing to me. I view this fellowship as a means to learn more about country- and region-specific values. I’m also interested in working to implement a multilingual Academic Support Program structure in my future workplace, so the chance for complete language immersion is truly exciting!

Annie’s tips for future Luce Scholars Program applicants:
The initial application is due to UW in the beginning of September, well before school starts, so make sure to plan letters of recommendation far in advance. Logistics aside, the most important aspect of this application is to think critically about your motivations for wanting to become involved in the Luce Scholars Program. When drafting your application, it is essential to articulate these ideas in a clear, accessible, and logical manner. Above all, strive to tell stories about yourself and your dreams that could not be inferred from a glance at your resume or transcript!


Natalie Pearlman, Finalist

Senior, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major

Natalie Pearlman

Natalie Pearlman is a senior studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and is a participant in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Born and raised in Tracy, California, a rural community in the heart of the Central Valley, Natalie has always been passionate about rural medicine and equitable access to healthcare. She plans to attend Medical School and practice Family Medicine in one of the many underserved rural communities in America. In addition to providing medical care, Natalie intends to be a proponent of health education and advocacy for the members of her community. During her time at the University of Washington, Natalie has been building the foundation for this career. As a student at the University of Washington, she has been afforded many incredible opportunities that have allowed her to be a scientist, educator, leader, mentor, and explorer. Natalie is involved both on campus and in the greater Seattle area. She is an undergraduate researcher in Daniel Promislow’s Pathology Lab, a member of Health Care Alternative Spring Break (HCASB), an assistant troop leader for a local Girl Scout Troop, and the Assistant Director of UW Leaders, an organization within the Associated Students of UW (ASUW). In her free time, Natalie enjoys exploring the many coffee shops around Seattle and cooking for her friends. When she can find the time, she loves hiking and finding a good book to read!

Natalie’s tips for future Luce Scholars Program applicants:
If you are interested in applying to any Fellowships or scholarships, utilize the resources UW offers! I would not have been able to have had the incredible opportunities I have had while at UW if it weren’t for the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards. The advisors there are committed to helping you find scholarships and will work with you during the entire application process. I encourage you to talk to one of them!


Enrique Pérez de la Rosa, Nominee

Senior, Journalism major

Enrique Pérez de la Rosa

My name is Enrique Pérez de la Rosa. I am a first generation, Mexican-American journalism student interested in pursuing a career in public broadcast media. I applied to the Luce Scholars program because I love immersing myself in other cultures and learning about people and their lives. I became a journalist to learn about the world and have always considered becoming a foreign correspondent for English- and Spanish-language news outlets in South America. I even started studying Portuguese in recent years to be prepared for opportunities to work in Brazil should they present themselves. The Luce Scholars Program is a fantastic opportunity to broaden my horizon further, by potentially giving me the opportunity to report in Asia, something I always figured was impossible. The opportunity to learn another language also drew me to the Luce Scholars Program. I grew up in a bilingual home and have become a lover of language in recent years. The Luce Scholars Program would allow me to interact and connect with an Asian culture abroad, but the benefit I hope to derive from the program is a connection to an Asian community at home in Seattle. As a journalist, I believe the media should strive to represent every voice in their communities, and every journalist should strive to contribute to that mission. This is an incredibly diverse region and my hometown of Kent is especially so. Where I grew up, seeing someone from Russia, India, Somalia, Mexico, etc. is a daily occurrence. In fact in my high school, only about 40% of the student body was white. But I can only interact with a fraction of my community and that is a problem every journalist should address.

Enrique’s tips for future Luce Scholars Program applicants:
Highlight in your application on experiences you’ve had outside the classroom as much as possible. The Luce Scholars program looks to place students in a professional setting in Asia, so show how you have succeeded in internships, research projects and other extra curricular work. Convince your interviewers that you are capable of excelling in a professional setting wherever it may be. Another thing to focus on in your application is your innate curiosity and passion for foreign cultures. The Luce Scholars program wants to develop an awareness of Asia in future leaders in America, so show that you are open to learning about the culture in and out of the office by highlighting how you connect to people of other cultures in the past through your work.

2016 - 2017

Caleb Huffman, Nominee

Senior, Political Science and Communication major

Caleb Huffman

Caleb Huffman is from Onalaska, Washington, and is a double major in political science and communication at the University of Washington enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Honors College. Passionate about learning, he began college at the age of sixteen. Today, Caleb is currently analyzing Donald Trump’s stump speeches in the Communication Honors Program, while researching firearm homicide rates in the Political Science Honors Program and as a fellow with the Center for American Politics and Public Policy. Caleb studied global cities and human migrations as a Gilman Scholar in Rome, Italy. As a University of Washington Husky Presidential Ambassador to Tsinghua University in Beijing, he works to build cross-cultural understanding and develop transnational leadership skills. As a Fellow with the U.S.-China Initiative at Georgetown University, Caleb discusses and collaborates with other fellows to increase the two countries’ positive impact on the world. Outside of class, Caleb served on the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council engaging hundreds of youth in politics, successfully lobbying several bills into Washington State law. He is the President of UW’s Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honors chapter and Student Director for the Veritas Forum at UW. He works for UW admissions as a campus tour guide, having represented UW to over 2,000 potential students and their guests. Caleb has also worked for UW’s International Student Services and the Study Abroad Office assisting international learning. In the future, Caleb will pursue a J.D. in international law with the aim of becoming an influential actor in American foreign relations.

2015 - 2016

Dylan Moore, Nominee

Senior, Biochemistry major


Benjamin Pennant, Nominee

Senior, Aeronautics & Astronautics major


2014 - 2015

Varsha Govindaraju, Scholar

Senior, Law, Societies, & Justice and Anthropology major

Varsha Govindaraju

Varsha Govindaraju from Federal Way, Washington is proud and excited to be graduating in June 2015 with degrees in Anthropology and Law, Societies, and Justice with minors in Human Rights and Diversity. With a passion for dismantling systems of oppression, Varsha seeks to bring underrepresented voices into the creating of legislation and legal analysis, while serving these communities by working in the public interest law and later becoming an educator.

After coming to the University of Washington through the Robinson Center for Young Scholars Academy, Varsha began her college education. She saw the ways in which a collegiate education can transform ways of understanding society, creating more global and conscious leaders of the future. Varsha was able to begin her own journey of self interrogation and diversity education by interning for the Women’s Action Commission and other human rights organizations. Through this exposure to intersecting systems of oppression, she understands how education is revolutionary and hopes that by being a legal educator, she can work with other lawyers to dismantle the systems they are a part of.

In her time at UW, she worked as an activist as Assistant Director of the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists bringing diversity as a critical component to analyzing domestic violence and sexual assault while leading workshops on prevention and healthy relationships. Through co-founding of Third Wave Feminists, she collaboratively worked with others to establish a space for discussions around feminism and being accountable. Currently, she acts as the Director of Diversity Efforts, seeking to create systemic change in the University through her work with the Faculty Councils, Diversity Commissions, the ECC, the Women’s Center and other groups on campus.

Off campus, Varsha has worked on political campaigns such as Equal Rights Washington, and interned at Columbia Legal Services working on various projects such as holding legal clinics to seal criminal records for low income individuals, and finding resources for affordable housing and job training. These amazing lawyers have inspired Varsha to go into the public interest sector and create the change she hopes to see in the world.


Linhchi Pham, Nominee

Senior, Bioengineering major

Linhchi Pham

Linhchi Pham from Bellevue, Washington is excited to be graduating from the University of Washington in June 2015 with a degree in Bioengineering with Honors. With a fresh perspective from her freshman year in Kansas, she arrived at UW determined to pursue bioengineering because of its innovation and creativity in addressing problems in medicine. Her interest in global women’s health and HIV/AIDS led her to the Woodrow Lab in Spring 2013. The Woodrow Lab has been an incredible experience that shaped her design process, built and enhanced her analytical and communication skills. She is currently working on her senior capstone research project on a novel vaccine delivery system.

Linhchi is extremely fortunate to have met many wonderful people who have inspired and challenged her in profound ways outside of bioengineering. Through her weekly interactions with patients at the UW Emergency Department and engagement in bioethics (Social Justice and Health, Ethics and Social Determinants), Linhchi realized that medicine is even more complex than the human body that governs us. She sees medicine as an integrated effort between the community, delivery system and the patient. These experiences stimulated a strong passion for public health and she hopes to bridge between public health and bioengineering.

Linhchi’s interest public health and translational medicine as well as an opportunity to learn a new culture and language has led her to the Luce Scholars Program. Asia has made great progress in her focus areas and she hopes to participate in its evolving landscape. Linhchi will continue her studies in medical school and will pursue a Masters in Public Health, take initiatives to explore global woman’s health, educate and advocate for woman’s health rights during her medical career.

Outside of school, Linhchi enjoys playing with her dog, learning ballet, running and walking around Seattle and savoring a taste of Ellenos greek yogurt!


2013 - 2014

Emily Nitz-Ritter, Nominee

Senior, English and Comparative History of Ideas major

Emilia Nitz-Ritter

Emily Nitz-Ritter, a Seattleite through and through, is thrilled to be graduating from the University of Washington this coming June with a degree in English and the Comparative History of Ideas. When Emily arrived at the UW nearly four years ago, she was initially interested in creative writing, but has found herself gravitating towards critical theory and macro-level concerns in the public sector. Throughout her studies, Emily has read countless pages on everything from 21st century American poetry to indigenous politics in Latin America and written countless pages on everything from race theory in 18th century Britain to a rhetorical analysis of No Child Left Behind.

Emily has been truly fortunate to have encountered the many incredible people and complex ideas, both on campus and off, that have significantly informed and shaped her undergraduate career and her future plans. Through her rich experiences with public education in Seattle, (volunteering in two very distinct elementary schools in the greater Seattle area, working with the National Superintendents Roundtable and developing a rigorous theoretical framework with which to examine educational issues) Emily has come to realize her deep-seated investment in education as a locus of social justice work. Her professors, colleagues, peers, and mentors have encouraged her to consider education as a historical, political, economic, philosophical, and ethical system.

Emily is currently working on her senior thesis, which investigates the concept of critical pedagogy as an emancipatory and radical form of educational practice. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with the goal of becoming a public school administrator or policy-maker.

When not thinking about structures of oppression and ways to disrupt them, Emily enjoys a good cup of coffee, walks around Greenlake, and spending time with her friends and family.


Max Sugarman, Nominee

Senior, Environmental Science & Resource Management and International Studies major

Max Sugarman

Max Sugarman, from Issaquah, Washington will be graduating in June 2014 with degrees in Environmental Science and Resource Management and International Studies. With a passion for answering ecological problems in an ever-changing world, Max seeks to answer grand challenges of sustainable development and environmental degradation with interdisciplinary approaches of ecological science.

After studying in South Africa with Duke University’s Organization for Tropical Studies, and travelling to Quebec and Ottawa for an Arctic Policy Taskforce, he has sought global experiences like the Luce Scholars program to broaden his perspective outside his comfort zone. In both South Africa and Canada Max studied environmental issues facing indigenous populations, writing a policy memo on biodiversity management with Inuit communities and interviewing Venda families about resource use. At the University of Washington Max has been involved with research in Monika Moskal’s Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Lab, studying wetlands under climate change. In the next two quarters, Max will be completing his senior thesis research testing new remote sensing methods to answer questions related to ecosystem services and processes, focusing especially on water resources.

Outside of school, Max is passionate about sustainability and education. With a team of fellow Earth Club members, Max has led the inaugural Ackerley Learning to Lead Together scholarship through Empowered Eco-Education, a project working with South Park after-school programs and community partners to teach interactive, science-centered nature education workshops. Likewise he has also led trips for Environmental Alternative Spring Break in rural Washington and fostered environmental leadership and community through Earth Day, Earth Club, the College of the Environment’s Student Advisory Council, and the Green Tea Party, a collaborative forum for environmental Registered Student Organizations. With hopes to continue research in the future with a PhD in landscape ecology and work internationally on sustainable development solutions, Max plans to continue seeking new experiences that will melds these two passions together

2012 - 2013

Genevieve (Gennie) Gebhart, Scholar

Senior, International Studies and Economics major

Genevieve (Gennie) Gebhart

Gennie Gebhart, a Sacramento native and now a proud Seattlite, grew up exploring libraries. Gennie plans to graduate from the University of Washington in June 2013 with a degree in International Studies and Economics. While her academic studies at the UW have focused on environmental economics and international energy politics, she is aiming to extend these fields of study into a career in information justice and international librarianship.

The UW Libraries have opened countless doors for Gennie, and she owes her current informatics skills and aspirations to them. Having worked at the UW Libraries‘ Odegaard Undergraduate Library, the Northwest branch of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and the UW’s Media Center (the main multimedia library), Gennie has had hands-on experience in what it takes to keep a university library running from day to day through everything from budget cuts to large-scale renovations.

Gennie’s introduction to the art and study of cinema at the Media Center has led to her current senior Honors thesis on Italian film, which she has been fortunate to undertake in Rome during winter quarter 2013. Her activities in Italy so far have included trips to Naples for Christmas and New Years with strangers-turned-family, trying to fix her apartment’s water heater, and speaking as much Italian as possible.

Gennie’s greatest passion lies in the problem-solving and advocacy she has found as a student representative on the UW’s Library Student Advisory Committee and Faculty Council on University Libraries. In these groups, terms like “open access,” “information justice,” and “digital commons” have taken on tangible and urgent meaning. Gennie hopes to enter the global open access debate armed with international experience, a multidisciplinary education, and constant mindfulness of the vital human side of digital information technology.

2011 - 2012

Kelly Miller, Finalist

2011 Graduate, International Studies, European Studies, and German Language and Literature major

A Portland native, a Seattle convert, and a temporary German resident, Kelly Miller graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a degree in International Studies, European Studies, and German Language and Literature. She is passionate about stories, whether those specifically related to her biography – stories of the Holocaust and of migration – or those related to the nature of vulnerable humans in flux, in general. Working three years as an educational assistant and archivist-in-residence at the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (WSHERC), Kelly deeply learned the creative art of story-keeping. Through work as a tutor, mentor, and researcher with refugee and immigrant communities from East Africa and South-East Asia in the Seattle metropolitan area, she learned the need and the possibility for further truth-telling and truth-sharing. Life abroad offered similar insights. She spent a summer studying social justice movements in Bangalore from the insider-position of study-abroad, then traveled the country alone, seeing India as an outsider curious to know its multiplicity of stories. Six months studying in Germany at the Freie Universität, living with some good Germans, and researching a thesis on post-Holocaust youth activism were to follow. The final year in Seattle was a cold one with trips to Ottawa for an International Studies Task Force on Inuit rights in the Arctic and to Chicago for the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights on Forced Migration.

The warmth of graduation beckoned a new era of cosmopolitan-foreignness – Kelly’s favorite learning-to-be-human activity; she moved back to Berlin, Germany in September. Since returning, she has worked as an assistant at a contemporary arts gallery and researched linguistic diversity for a community “language guide”. These days find her writing about neighborhoods and micro-cultures, researching the creative edge, and creating copious amounts of poetry. Where these stories and their authors will take her, remains to be seen.

2010 - 2011

Jonathan Teng, Nominee

Architectural Design


2009 - 2010

2010 Luce Scholar Nominees

2010 Luce Scholar Nominees

Jesse Burk-Rafel, Scholar

Senior, Bioengineering major

Jesse Burk-Rafel

Jesse Burk-Rafel, a senior Honors student in bioengineering, was recently selected as a 2010-11 Luce Scholar. As a UW undergraduate, Jesse’s academic accomplishments extend beyond the classroom and into research labs and leadership opportunities. He has undertaken several independent biomedical research and design projects. He participated in an NIH-sponsored Clinical Research Experiences for Engineers program, designing a cancer-targeted magnetic nanoparticle for early detection of tumors. Currently, his research in Professor Dan Ratner’s lab involves developing biosensors for probing host-pathogen interactions, with an emphasis on intestinal diseases afflicting the third-world.

Jesse led an initiative to redesign the bioengineering undergraduate curriculum. The new curriculum won widespread faculty support and has been submitted to the college for approval and implementation. Jesse received the first-ever Bioengineering Student Leadership Award from the faculty for pioneering this effort. He has also assisted in undergraduate teaching, serving as TA for “Bioengineering Physiology I” and as instructor for a pre-engineering Freshman Interest Group. His other awards and recognitions include the Mary Gates Research Scholarship, Undergraduate Scholar Award, and Deans List.

Following graduation, Jesse intends to build upon his undergraduate training as a bioengineer to pursue a career as a physician-scientist. Prior to entering an MD/PhD program, he hopes to cultivate a more mature understanding of global healthcare challenges, particularly in the areas of policy, research and therapeutics, and delivery of care. As a Luce Scholar, Jesse plans to study Asia’s efforts to meet healthcare challenges and improve patient outcomes. He is especially interested in contributing to meaningful cross-cultural exchange between the American and Asian scientific and medical communities to improve the delivery of healthcare on a global scale.

“I’m completely interested in learning different perspectives on healthcare and research labs,” says Jesse. “You can’t separate healthcare from the beliefs of the people and an immersive experience [like the Luce Scholarship] really helps you see that.”

Besides his academic pursuits, Jesse is an avid baker and soccer player. He has also worked as a deckhand on a salmon fishing boat in Alaska for two fishing seasons.


Shoukouh Pardakhtim, Nominee

Senior, Mathematics major

On September 27, 2002, I had the privilege of entering the United States as a refugee from Iran. My goal was to live in a fair and well-developed country, obtain higher education and become a successful educator. The U.S. is far different from my birth country, where I was refused opportunities for higher education. In fact, a high school diploma was the highest education I could achieve in Iran because I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, which has been a persecuted religious minority in Iran for over 160 years.

One of my core principles is serving people based on who they are within, not how much money they have or their place in society. My professional goal is to be an educator. I believe teaching is a sacred responsibility that has the power to positively change the world. We need to encourage and enable young people to recognize their talents and capacities so they become great leaders.

A good teacher must be a good learner; someone who can see things from the perspective of others, share and encourage learning in ways that are both appropriate and meaningful. It is very important for teachers to be knowledgeable about their students and to be able to communicate with them because they need to understand every situation and make decisions to serve their students. As an educator, I want to continue gaining experiences different from my own so I can better serve my students and the world.

I applied for the Luce Scholars Program because I am convinced it will allow me to gain such perspective. The professional placement will provide deep, meaningful personal and cultural experiences, which will shape my thoughts and skills as a future educator in unique ways that are sure to positively impact who I am and what I do for others throughout my life.


Natalie Claire Bankson, Nominee