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Maxwell Alumna Taylor Hamilton G’18 To Spend a Year in East Asia as a Luce Scholar
Taylor Hamilton G’18 has been named a 2023-24 Luce Scholar.
The Luce Scholars Program is a prestigious, nationally competitive fellowship program launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15 to 18 Luce Scholars each year.
The 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 Luce 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 and gain a new perspective of the world.
Eighteen scholars were selected from a pool of 34 finalists in a highly competitive interviewing process in which candidates were assessed on their professional interests, leadership potential, commitment to social change and personal integrity. Syracuse University’s third Luce Scholar, Hamilton will spend a year working in Asia, beginning in late June. Her placement is still being determined.
“At a time when the value of the open movement of people, ideas and information is being questioned, the foundation remains committed to supporting cross-border scholarship and dialogue. We are honored to welcome this impressive cohort into the global community of Luce Scholars,” says Luce Foundation President and CEO Mariko Silver.
Growing up as a Black American child in Texas, Hamilton learned the realities of disenfranchisement at an early age. “I listened to my elders discuss redlining, predatory mortgage lending and exclusionary zoning even before I fully comprehended their meaning,” she says. “By the time I understood how these types of practices influenced urban development, I was determined to promote economic opportunity for people with similar life experiences.”
Hamilton completed two years of her general education at Collin County Community College while still a high school student. This, she says, prepared her to navigate spaces with confidence in her abilities and experience.
She studied at the University of Kentucky, earning a bachelor’s degree in international studies and economics. There, she researched U.S. influence on the Korean film industry and wrote her bachelor’s thesis on homelessness in Japan. She also was a member of Sigma Iota Rho, an honor society for international studies, and volunteered with the Japan-America Society of Kentucky.
She served as the university’s Student Activities Board cultural arts director for two years and oversaw the relationship between student and community artists. “As a result, I explored community spaces and immersed myself in cultures that differed from my own. My involvement in the art world included studying public spaces—such as parks, mural walls, playgrounds, and outdoor event spaces—and how citizens interacted with these spaces,” she says.
Hamilton graduated with a master of public administration and a master of arts in international relations (M.P.A./M.A.I.R) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 2018. She also completed a certificate of advanced study in conflict resolution. She studied the regional geopolitics and economy of East Asia and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and the influence of non-state actors. At Maxwell, she benefited from meeting people from around the globe and interacting with her peers—learning how public policy can best serve people.
In addition to her academics, Hamilton worked to promote an equitable student and staff experience on campus as an employee of the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution Services, primarily assisting survivors of sexual violence and ensuring campuswide Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
She is currently a management consultant, 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 such consulting work 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 a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Hamilton is currently pursuing her long-term career aspirations of being an urbanist and spatial equity advocate. She is a public policy consultant who advocates for equitable housing access such as homeownership programs for low-income households or natural resource management in resilient city spaces. “I advise local governments, national government agencies and international NGOs on topics ranging from accessible community-building to smart cities, such as interviewing citizens and developing plans to improve urban spaces using their input,” she says. “I’m interested in the poorest of cities such as Syracuse where local government is remediating spatial inequity by removing a highway dividing the city along racial and income lines.”
Some of the most meaningful moments she has had have come from her community engagement experiences—collecting survey feedback, hosting listening sessions, making phone calls, knocking on doors—that facilitate space and time for the people of the community to give their input. “The outputs of those conversations have really reinforced for me the kind of impact I would like to have,” she says.
Hamilton is eager to begin her Luce placement, which she says will give her the opportunity to not only benefit from the experience but to make an impact as well. “A year in Asia with Luce will be transformative by providing me with a rare opportunity to work in Asia and contribute on equal footing with other professionals in the realm of urban studies, giving me a more holistic view of community development,” she says. “Since the Luce Scholar program presents an opportunity for soft diplomacy, I would also like to share urban policy approaches that U.S. cities have found work to support their citizens, especially vulnerable communities—such as low-income households, Black and Hispanic households, refugee-led households, gender and sexual minorities and tribal communities.”
She is also looking forward to getting involved with the metalsmithing and yoga communities in Asia. “Following this experience, I will continue to define a career for myself as an urbanist and spatial equity advocate where I can make equitable community development a reality for the most vulnerable Americans,” Hamilton says. “I believe inequity can only be addressed by developing public policy solutions that work for all, and by learning from effective policy approaches employed by other countries. Through a year in Asia with Luce, I know I will develop the skills and experience needed to support this goal.”