Leah Everist, a fourth-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named a 2018 Luce Scholar by the Henry Luce Foundation. Carolina boasts more Luce Scholars than any other college or university in the United States.
Everist, a health policy and management major and medical anthropology minor, is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 39th Luce Scholar and its 13th in the last 10 years. She is one of only 18 students in the United States selected for the prestigious internship program in Asia.
“It is incredibly humbling to be a part of this class of Luce Scholars,” said Everist. “UNC, particularly the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a place that celebrates living and working in other parts of the world in an effort to make connections and broaden our perspectives beyond our own communities, and I am excited and honored to spend the next year working on disaster preparedness and response in Asia. In this field, we know that resilient communities support one another; I hope that the Carolina community continues to find strength in protecting, loving and fighting for all of its members.”
As a Luce Scholar, Everist will begin her Luce Year with orientation and intensive language study. She will then complete a year-long internship working on community preparedness and disaster response in Asia.
“It is wonderful to see the recognition of Leah’s undergraduate scholarship, dedication to helping others and personal achievements recognized by her selection for this outstanding program,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I am very excited for Leah and have no doubt that her studies of resilient communities in Asia will contribute to our world’s understanding of how to best prepare for and then respond to natural disasters.”
Everist, 22, is from Asheville. She is a Morehead-Cain Scholar and Honors Carolina student, and earned the Morris Weinberger Award for Distinction in the BSPH Program for Public Health in May 2017. At Carolina, Everist was an admissions ambassador, an empowerment partner for the Refugee Health Initiative, and is a co-director of Get Covered Carolina, a part of the Student Health Action Coalition, and a doula for UNC Hospitals. She has conducted research on vaccine hesitancy in South Asia and community-managed water systems in northern Ghana.
Between her second and third year at Carolina, Everist took a gap year to work and volunteer. In fall 2015, she traveled to New York City to work for the Young Women’s Leadership Network and interned with Doctors Without Borders. She then moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, to work as an AmeriCorps member with the American Conservation Experience. Following that, Everist traveled to the country of Georgia for the summer, where she led volunteer crews to build trails through the Caucuses Mountains.
The Henry Luce Foundation launched the Luce Scholars Program in 1974 to provide an immersion experience in Asia to young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the region. The award provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for graduating seniors, graduate students and professionals under age 30.
“Leah is such an impressive young woman. With the seemingly growing frequency of natural disasters, the world needs brilliant, energetic and creative minds like Leah’s to improve emergency planning, disaster prevention and relief efforts,” said Inger Brodey, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “Leah was a unanimous selection by our Luce Committee, and we couldn’t be more delighted.”