International relations major Rebecca Schectman ’16 will spend a year working in Asia after being selected for the 2016-2017 class of Luce Scholars. She is one of only two students from the College of William and Mary to be chosen for this fellowship since it began in 1974.
Schectman will join 17 other students to do research and practice international relations in Asia. The Luce Scholar fellowship was designed for students who were interested in Asia or Asia Studies but have had little to no experience in the field. It is an opportunity for students to get to work in the field of international relations, providing a contrast to the academic theory taught in the classroom.
According to Schectman, she knew that she wanted to spend time abroad following graduation but was not sure exactly what she wanted to do.
“I knew I wanted to spend a year working abroad, but I hadn’t really considered Asia, or this scholarship, because I didn’t have any experience there,” Schectman said in a press statement. “But then I realized that’s exactly what the Luce Foundation is looking for.”
“They are trying to get people who are really talented and smart who don’t know much about Asia,” Tierney said. “Rebecca has done so much work on international relations and development in two other regions, Africa and Latin America. If I were them, I would want to get somebody who is comfortable in a multicultural setting and field research.”
Previously, Schectman worked as an AidData summer fellow in Uganda where she partnered with UNICEF and has spent time in Argentina. She has also spent time working as a researcher at the Center for African Development.
Along with her application for the fellowship, she included four letters of recommendation, including one from her major advisor professor Michael Tierney. According to Tierney, she is a perfect candidate for this fellowship because of her wide variety of experience in the field of international relations.
“They are trying to get people who are really talented and smart who don’t know much about Asia,” Tierney said. “Rebecca has done so much work on international relations and development in two other regions, Africa and Latin America. If I were them, I would want to get somebody who is comfortable in a multicultural setting and field research. She doesn’t have a specialty in East Asia and that’s what they want. I am guessing there is not a huge number of people with these backgrounds or with that interest in Asia, which probably helped Rebecca a lot. She is incredibly broadly trained in quantitative skills, GIS mapping, econometrics, and fiscal analysis. She is also obviously gifted at learning languages. She is an ideal candidate. I feel sorry for people from Yale and Harvard who she beat out.”
“Rebecca Schectman’s success in the prestigious Luce Scholarship competition is a testament to the outstanding abilities of [William and Mary] undergraduates interested in global and regional issues,” Hanson said in a press statement.
Although Schectman does not yet know what she will be doing during her year abroad, she is interested in using social science research methods to learn more about refugee issues and development issues. Schectman hopes to work in Malaysia, Myanmar or Thailand.
Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Reves Center for International Studies Steve Hanson said in a press statement that Schectman’s selection for the fellowship reflects the abilities of the College’s undergraduates.
“Rebecca Schectman’s success in the prestigious Luce Scholarship competition is a testament to the outstanding abilities of [William and Mary] undergraduates interested in global and regional issues,” Hanson said in a press statement. “All of us at [William and Mary] know that Rebecca will take full advantage of this opportunity and go on to make a real difference in the world.”
Tierney also said that this opportunity would be beneficial for Schectman in terms of her future career. He says she will have plenty of opportunity to succeed in a graduate program when she returns and that this experience will help her find a job in the field of international relations.
The other student from the College selected for the Luce Scholar program was Jason Ferguson ’03 who spent 2009-2010 in Taipei working for National Taiwan University’s Population and Gender Studies Center and Women Research Program.
3/16/2016 5:10 p.m. An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to professor Michael Tierney as Dominic Tierney.