Like many seniors, Flynn Coleman (SFS ’03) had no firm plans following graduation from Georgetown. But, at the last minute, she went to see Fellowship Advisor Serafina Hager, who told her she should think about applying to the Luce Scholars Asian-American studies program.

Although the application was due in three days, Coleman managed to complete the essay, the extensive application and have four recommendations written by the deadline. She was selected by Georgetown University’s committee as one of only two applicants recommended by Georgetown to the Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Scholars program, and recently became a Luce Scholar Finalist.

“I would be honored to be a part of this program,” Coleman said. “It’s a great opportunity, especially because I’ve never been to Asia. I’ll be able to see another side of the world.”

The program requires that its applicants are not Asian studies majors, and that they have little knowledge of Asian culture as a whole.

“Experts alone cannot achieve a new level of understanding between Asia and America. What we need is an expanding body of citizens who, without being specialists, are familiar and responsive to Asian cultures and societies,” the Henry Luce Foundation’s Web site claims.

A total of 18 Luce scholars are selected each year and sent to different locations in Asia, including Vietnam, Hong Kong, Brunei and Thailand. The foundation pays for all living expenses. The program begins in August and concludes in July, at which time the scholars gather in Asia and present what they have learned. Each is assigned to a location based on his or her specific career interests by the Asia Foundation, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

Coleman was declared a finalist after going through a round of interviews in late January. Her next hurdle is a sequence of seven interviews, one with each member of the committee that chooses the scholars, in New York City in late February.

“I’m trying not to get too excited. This is the hardest round. I’m nervous, but I’m going to be myself. If they like me, they like me; if they don’t, they don’t. Chances are I won’t make it, but if I did, I would be thrilled,” she said.

Armed with a culture and politics major, a justice and peace certificate and an interest in international and human rights law, Coleman could be placed in situations ranging from being a law student to working in a non-governmental organization in an Asian country. Coleman believes that if selected, her experience in Asia will help her compare Asian values with those of the West, which would then help her in a career in international human rights. She is also quick to point out, however, that she believes all humans share certain core values.

“I’ll be able to see what human rights are like in a non-Western country. You always learn more about the places you go and faces you see,” she said. “It would be a great experience, because in human rights you have to speak for everyone,” she said.

Coleman’s father, Tom, is excited for his daughter, but also slightly apprehensive.

“As a dad, I am incredibly proud of her. However, I am apprehensive about the opportunity, as I am whenever Flynn travels. She is headed to Cuba at Spring Break as a delegate for Witness for Peace, but Asia presents some more challenging logistics. It is our understanding that the foundation doesn’t send scholars to possible `hot spots’ and that there are many local resources available to each scholar,” he said.

Harvard, Yale, Swarthmore and the University of California at Berkeley are only some of the 65 colleges and universities that have the opportunity to submit two students to the program. Of the possible 130 applicants, a mere 45 are selected to be finalists. Of those, only 18 will go to Asia.

Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time agazine established the Henry Luce foundation in 1936. The Foundation offers various programs in addition to the Luce Scholars, including some for professors. Those who would like more information on the program can visit www.hluce.org.

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