Martha Isaacs Selected as UNC’s 38th Luce Scholar

Martha Isaacs, a fourth-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been named a recipient of the 2017 Luce Scholars Program Fellowship. Carolina boasts more Luce Scholars than any other college or university in the United States, including eight recipients in the last five academic years.

Isaacs, a geography of human activity major and city and regional planning minor, is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 38th Luce Scholar and one of only 18 students in the United States selected for the prestigious program, which includes an internship in Asia.

“I am honored and overjoyed to have the opportunity to travel to Asia next year with the Luce Scholars Program,” said Isaacs. “As a Luce Scholar, I hope to work as a transportation planner in Singapore or Japan, beginning my professional career with a chance to shed North America-centric planning practices and learn from a different political, economic, and geographic context.”

Isaacs, 21, is from Reisterstown, Maryland. She will graduate from Carolina this May and is working on her senior honors thesis. She is a Morehead-Cain Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa member, Honors Carolina student and was named a Buckley Public Service Scholar in 2014 after completing more than 300 hours of public service.

While at Carolina, Isaacs served as the co-chair for Students United for Reproductive Justice. A research assistant at the Highway and Safety Research Center, Isaacs conducts research on the ‘Safe Routes to School’ and ‘Watch for Me NC’ programs and writes issue briefs for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in city and regional planning with a focus in transportation, and then start her career as a transportation planner in the governmental, private or non-profit sector.

“It is wonderful to see Martha selected for this outstanding program and fantastic opportunity to continue her studies of transportation and urban planning systems in Asia,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I am very excited for Martha and have no doubt that her studies will help shape the cities and transit systems of the future.”

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.

“The University is delighted that Martha will be Carolina’s 38th Luce Scholar,” said Inger Brodey, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “Martha stands out among her classmates for her originality, enthusiasm and sincerity. Spending a year interning in Asia with the Luce Scholars Program will enable her to pursue her dream of improving equity in transportation systems.”

Read the UNC Spotlight here.

Learn more about the Luce Fellowship here.

Learn about other nationally-competitive and prestigious awards from the Office of Distinguished Scholarships (ODS), and follow ODS on Twitter: @ODS_UNCCH.