Law School student earns prestigious Luce Scholarship


For the third year in a row, a University of Michigan student was named to the prestigious Luce Scholarship Program. Law School student Varun Aery joins 17 other scholars from across the country to receive the fellowship for 2017-18.

Varun Aery

Founded in 1974 by Time Inc. editor-in-chief Henry Luce to honor his parents who did missionary work in China, the Luce Scholar Program is a national, competitive fellowship program which aims to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. Each year, the program accepts applications from college seniors, graduate students and young professionals in a variety of fields.

U-M was one of 75 U.S. universities and colleges invited to nominate candidates for the 2017-18 cohort. The program is administered by the university’s International Institute.

“Each year, the Luce Scholars Program draws a great deal of interest on campus, and we receive a large number of well-qualified applications,” said Beth Dutridge-Corp, fellowships and grants adviser with the International Institute. “This year, like most, it was very hard to select only three candidates from our pool of applicants. We were very proud to put Varun forward as a nominee.” 

Varun hails from Yuba City, California, a small farming community 45 minutes north of Sacramento. While attending Yuba College, the shortage of political science courses offered forced him to drive to Sacramento City College and Butte College. It was during this time that he started to recognize how socio-economic constraints can truly impact an individual’s access to education.

“In Sacramento, classmates talked about their plans to continue their studies at four-year colleges or universities,” he explains. “In the smaller towns, fewer people were having these conversations. Socio-economic barriers were much higher.”

With a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from the University of California, Davis, he knew that U-M was an ideal institution for deepening his scholarly pursuits.

“International law and the study of global affairs is the hallmark of Michigan,” says Varun, who is pursuing a Master of Laws degree at U-M. “The Law School maintains leading experts in the field who are deeply committed to students’ professional development.”

In his time at U-M, Varun already has expanded his perspective and understanding of comparative and international legal studies. 

“Varun’s infectious enthusiasm for human rights law, his broad knowledge of the field and his boundless energy promises to make his time as a Luce Scholar an exciting time for him, and a productive encounter for those he will meet on his travels and in the field,” says Christopher McCrudden, William W. Cook Global Law Professor.

Luce Scholars are provided with stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for one year. Although his destination isn’t determined yet, Varun hopes to land in Cambodia.

“Monitoring and protecting human rights in a transitional democracy like Cambodia will sharpen my legal skills, teaching me how lawyers on the front lines defend economic, social and cultural rights, while facing critical political challenges that can often overshadow these vital public needs,” he said.


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