Students selected to receive the Luce scholarship will receive more than money. The scholars will have the chance to work in different countries and experience a new culture while pursuing work relevant to their passions — all expenses paid.
The founder of Time Magazine, Henry Luce, created the foundation which selects 15 to 18 students from 75 colleges that are invited to participate in the program. After being selected, students are given a professional placement in an Asian institution or agency based on their interests and qualifications for 13 months. Scholars also receive a monthly stipend meant to cover all of their expenses during their time away.
NYU was one of two universities, along with the University of Chicago, with more than one scholar named. Tisch School of the Arts graduate Alfonso Morgan-Terrero and NYU Abu Dhabi senior Lama Ahmad were both awarded the scholarships. Morgan-Terrero and Ahmad will begin the placement process in June.
Those selected to be Luce Scholars go through an orientation process and language training before being placed. Out of 162 candidates, each nominated by their respective university or institution, Morgan-Terrero and Ahmad were among the 18 scholars chosen. Candidates undergo a rigorous application process that includes multiple interviews, some in front of committees of influential figures in Asia.
The Luce Scholars select candidates from a wide range of fields, from Morgan-Terrero’s filmmaking to Ahmad’s passion for representation in STEM and the social implications of technology. Ahmad is studying Social Research and Public Policy with a minor in Interactive Media Technology.
Ahmad was born and raised in Michigan and found herself engaged with STEM beginning in high school. In addition to public high school, she attended an additional specialized STEM school where she began studying computer science.
Ahmad quickly noticed that the majority of students in her computer science classes were men and developed a passion to push for the representation of women in STEM fields. She found herself drawn to a new organization on campus, weSTEM, which works to do just that.
“We organize conferences for high school girls in Abu Dhabi as well as whole day workshops,” Ahmad said. “We bring them into campus and they get to learn more about the application process and the mission is to expose them to ideas in STEM so that they can see university role models that they can follow.”
Ahmad hopes to continue with her cause through the Luce scholarship and asked to be placed into something which involves diversity in technology, although she hasn’t decided on a location yet.
“I’m mainly looking for organizations focused on women’s empowerment and technology, right now it’s narrowed down to Indonesia or Malaysia for my placement,” Ahmad said.
As a Muslim, Ahmad said she hopes to promote female representation in STEM in these two predominantly Muslim countries.
Morgan-Terrero was selected for his passion for filmmaking, which he started cultivating at 15, when he wrote his first screenplay despite initial setbacks.
“I couldn’t afford a camera, and my school didn’t really have a film program that lent itself to the type of filmmaking I wanted to do,” he said.
Morgan-Terrero prefers his stories to be based on his personal experience of growing up in an immigrant working-class family in the Bronx.
“I would use people I grew up with in my films, direct them to reinhabit experiences from the past. We would create scenarios we had seen growing up,” Morgan-Terrero said. “I made films that took place where I was from. That was the only kind of filmmaking experience that looked real to me.”
Despite it being a small relocation compared to students who come from places as far as California or even China, Morgan-Terrero found the jump from the Bronx to Manhattan was a culture shock.
“I hadn’t been exposed to how the rest of the world perceived where I was from,” he said. “In a way, you weren’t around people who shared the same experiences.”
Morgan-Terrero studied Mandarin Chinese all four years he was at NYU and found Chinese filmmakers influential in his personal development.
“I wanted to go to China to grow as a filmmaker in a culture that had influenced me so much as [one],” he said.
He will work with a Chinese film company. He hopes to create a film that promotes greater understanding between Chinese and American cultures. After returning from China, Morgan-Terrero hopes to continue to further his career in filmmaking.
“The goal is to move forward with my filmmaking and to be a leader in the field, making films as I know how to and reflect my filmmaking in the world,” he said. “Continue to voice the stories and experiences of people I’ve come into contact with.”
Email Jesse Jimenez at [email protected].