Alumna Named Luce Scholar

Claire Markgraf '06 has been named one of 18 winners of the Luce Scholars Program for 2010-2011. A politics major, she is the 13th Luce Scholar from Occidental College since this prestigious award was initiated in 1974, and the College's second winner in two years.

Like other Scholars honored by the Henry Luce Foundation, Markgraf will be placed in a major Asian city, connected to important institutions in her career area, introduced to the most influential people currently working in that dimension of Asian society, and given a year of financial and administrative support to cultivate her career. In Markgraf's case, that will be in international development and finance, in line with her current job at the World Bank and her long-term career aspirations.

"My work at the World Bank really influenced my decision to seek out experience in Asia," said Markgraf, who described herself as "thrilled" to win the fellowship. "I work in the office of the chief economist, who is Chinese and the first chief economist ever from a developing country. A good amount of his research is focused on understanding why many East Asian countries are developing so rapidly while countries with similar endowments are lagging behind. I wanted to gain a better understanding of development paths of some of these countries, and the Luce gives me the chance to experience it firsthand."

"This is an incredibly prestigious award--a major honor," says Dale Wright, professor of religious studies and chair of the Luce Scholars Program on campus. "We're truly proud that Claire was able to compete so well with nominees from all of the top universities in the country, from Stanford to Harvard. Having now become a Luce Scholar, Claire will be very well-positioned to complete her graduate education and embark upon a significant career in international development."

Markgraf hasn't found out yet where she will be placed, but most likely she will be working in urban planning and economic development in China, Vietnam or Indonesia. She hopes to pursue a career in international urban development, possibly in city finance.

Previously, she served as a Truman-Albright Fellow in the U.S. Department of the Interior and was primarily responsible for a weekly report for the president on national lands management issues. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Occidental and completed post-baccalaureate coursework in economics, statistics, and international policy as a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School.

The selection of the 18 Luce Scholars for 2010-2011 concludes a rigorous interview process that began in November 2009 with the nomination of 159 candidates by 65 colleges and universities. Their placements in Asia will be confirmed in May. For the first time, the new Luce Scholars will undertake intensive summer language training in their individual placement country in Asia, following orientation in New York and San Francisco in late June.

The purpose of the Luce Scholars Program is to increase awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society. Luce Scholars have backgrounds in virtually all fields--other than Asian studies--including medicine, the arts, business, law, science, environmental studies, and journalism.

The New York-based Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc. It has assets of about $700 million. The foundation has a particular interest in Asian scholarship because Luce's parents, Henry Winters Luce and Elizabeth R. Luce, were educational missionaries to China. The couple's four children were born in China.

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