Skip to main content

The newest Luce Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is Joël Joseph Hage of Greensboro, a senior Morehead-Cain Scholar who is fluent in five languages. His major is in global studies with a minor in Arabic, both in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Hage is one of 18 American students to receive a 2014-2015 fellowship from the Henry Luce Foundation in New York City and the 36th UNC student to earn the prestigious award. Carolina continues to lead the nation in Luce Scholars, with six now selected in the last five academic years.

“Joel Hage joins a very impressive group of UNC students who have received Luce Scholarships,” said Linda Dykstra, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of psychology and former director of UNC’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “With the expertise he has gained both as a UNC student and a world citizen, he is certain to complement the overall vision of the Luce Foundation.”

The Luce Scholars Program began in 1974 and funds a year of living and learning in Asia for recent college graduates up to the age of 30 who have limited prior experience of the continent. The foundation’s goal is to connect future American leaders with Asian colleagues in their fields. Selection criteria include outstanding achievement, leadership ability and clearly defined personal and professional interests coupled with potential for success.

“Joël’s approach to international development has emerged from his intense focus on marginalized communities,” said Raymond B. Farrow III, director of development and strategic initiatives for Carolina Performing Arts, chair of the UNC Luce Scholars Program selection committee and a former Luce Scholar. “His experiences with a variety of places where human constructs limit opportunity for economic growth, restrict mobility and deny freedom have led him to focus on urban planning as the key to his future career.”

Hage, 23, is the son of Joseph and Jamilee Hage, Lebanese immigrants who moved to the United States in the 1980s, eventually settling in Greensboro. He graduated from Northwest Guilford High School in 2009. There he worked in the family restaurant, Mediterraneo, and was also a Tae Kwon Do instructor, earning a second-degree black belt.

He received a Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. At Carolina, Hage has been named to the dean’s list, is a member of Honors Carolina and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in spring 2013. He is a Buckley Public Service Scholar with more than 300 hours of public service and is active in several campus organizations and programs such as Campus Y and TEDxUNC. He was one of 13 UNC students chosen to design and teach a course – his was “Beyond War and Luxury: the Unheard Tale of Lebanon” – through Carolina Students Taking Academic Responsibility through Teaching (C-START).

Hage is exploring Lebanese politics and religion in his honors thesis. He speaks Lebanese and Modern Standard Arabic, Italian, Spanish, French and basic Portuguese. He has studied, worked and traveled widely in South Africa, Lebanon, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. He will have the opportunity to immerse himself in Asia for the first time as a Luce Scholar.

“The Luce Scholars Program will enable me to experience a crucial time in global history as Asian governments – China in particular – attempt to address a range of societal issues through the rapid creation and expansion of urban environments,” Hage said. “Seeing such transformations up close will add a valuable dimension to my understanding of urbanization and its effects on marginalized communities.”

The value of the Luce award varies by assignment. The scholars will learn their assignments in June, spend part of the summer in the region for intensive language study, and then start their 10-month internships in September.

Published February 26, 2014.