Skip to main content

UK alumna named 1 of only 18 Luce Scholars in the US

By Whitney Hale 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 7, 2023)  Taylor Hamilton, a 2016 international studies graduate, is one of only 18 to be named a 2023-24 Luce Scholar. The Henry Luce Foundation hopes to enhance understanding of Asia by offering work opportunities across Asia. Hamilton’s field of interest will be in community development and urban resilience.

“I am very much looking forward to becoming a part of the Luce Scholar community as I further develop leadership skills to aid in my career,” Hamilton said. “My goals for my Luce year are furthering my international network of colleagues and developing a social proficiency in a language other than English. I anticipate that, regardless of my placement country, I will have a humbling experience as I learn from and contribute to communities with different language and cultural practices than my own.”

As a Luce Scholar, Hamilton is eligible to receive stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia. The scholars were pulled from a pool of applicants of college seniors, graduate students and young professionals in a variety of fields.

The Luce Scholars Program aims to provide young scholars who have great potential, but little previous exposure to Asia, with an immersive experience through which they can learn to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” The cultural and linguistic challenges they encounter are at the heart of the experience and help the scholars grow personally and professionally. They also develop a sophisticated understanding of a dynamic region that is critical to America’s future.

“When I first learned about the Luce Scholar program, I knew it was exactly the experience I felt I needed at this point in my career. Since I graduated from UK, I have been looking for immersive opportunities to work and live in Asia, to further my professional interests in public policy and international relations,” Hamilton said. “Throughout the application process, staff from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Asia Foundation challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and take advantage of the opportunity to network with an impressive group of fellow applicants, Luce Scholar alumni, and global changemakers.”

Hamilton applied to be a Luce Scholar with the assistance of UK’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.

“I am very grateful to the UK NCA and Dr. Pat Whitlow for supporting me through the application process (and on quite a short timeline). Dr. Whitlow was able to provide me with constructive feedback on my application materials, ensuring I put my best foot forward. I'm rather happy to say it paid off. I hope I can be an example to others in the Wildcat community who have an interest in Asia.”

Hamilton is a management consultant in New York, where she advises government agencies and social impact organizations on change management, organizational design and operational transformation. She has furthered social and economic equity through her consulting work, such as helping a U.S. federal government agency increase broadband access for tribal, rural and Black communities and performing an impact assessment on local economic mobility for an NGO in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After UK, Hamilton graduated with a M.P.A. and M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University. She also completed a Certificate in Conflict Resolution. At Syracuse, she studied the regional geopolitics and economy of East Asia and the ASEAN, and the influence of nonstate actors.

While at UK working on her bachelor’s degree in international studies and economics, Hamilton researched U.S. influence on the Korean film industry and wrote her bachelor's thesis on homelessness in Japan. She was a member of Sigma Iota Rho, an honor society for International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and volunteered with the Japan-America Society of Kentucky. Hamilton also served as the university’s Student Activities Board cultural arts director for two years.

Hamilton is a fledgling blacksmith and has enjoyed learning American and Japanese metalsmithing techniques over the past few years. She likes to root unconditionally for the occasional female metalsmith contestants on The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” show and daydreams about competing one day herself.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.