Health policy and management senior named Luce Scholar

March 2, 2018

Leah Everist

Leah Everist

Leah Everist, a senior Bachelor of Science in Public Health student in health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been selected as a 2018 Luce Scholar by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Everist, whose minor degree is in medical anthropology, is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 39th Luce Scholar and its 13th in the past decade. She is one of only 18 students in the United States selected for the prestigious internship program in Asia.

“We are very proud of Leah,” said Karl Umble, PhD, clinical assistant professor of health policy and management at the Gillings School and director of the department’s undergraduate education program. “She has been a wonderful student and collaborator with us and her peers over the last two years. It will be exciting to see where the Luce Scholars program leads Leah’s next steps in public health.”

Everist said she felt humbled to be a part of the outstanding class of 2018 Luce Scholars.

“UNC, particularly the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a place that celebrates living and working in other parts of the world in an effort to make connections and broaden our perspectives beyond our own communities, and I am excited and honored to spend the next year working on disaster preparedness and response in Asia,” Everist said. “In this field, we know that resilient communities support one another; I hope that the Carolina community continues to find strength in protecting, loving and fighting for all of its members.”

As a Luce Scholar, Everist will begin the program with orientation and intensive language study. She will then complete a year-long internship in community preparedness and disaster response in Asia.

“It is wonderful to see the recognition of Leah’s undergraduate scholarship, dedication to helping others and personal achievements recognized by her selection for this outstanding program,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “I am very excited for Leah and have no doubt that her studies of resilient communities in Asia will contribute to our world’s understanding of how to best prepare for and then respond to natural disasters.”

A native of Asheville, Everist is a Morehead-Cain Scholar and Honors Carolina student. In 2017, she earned the Morris Weinberger Award for Distinction in the Gillings School’s Bachelor of Science in Public Health program. She has worked as an admissions ambassador and is currently teaching a class at UNC about emotional science and behavioral economics while researching disaster response and resilience in Puerto Rico. She is also a co-director of Get Covered Carolina, of the Student Health Action Coalition, and doula for UNC Hospitals. She has conducted research on vaccine hesitancy in South Asia and community-managed water systems in northern Ghana.

Between her second and third years at Carolina, Everist took a gap year to work and volunteer. In fall 2015, she worked with the Young Women’s Leadership Network in New York City and interned with Doctors Without Borders. She also worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Flagstaff, Ariz., and during the summer, traveled to the country of Georgia, where she led volunteer crews to build trails through the Caucuses Mountains.

“Leah is such an impressive young woman. With the seemingly growing frequency of natural disasters, the world needs brilliant, energetic and creative minds like Leah’s to improve emergency planning, disaster prevention and relief efforts,” said Inger Brodey, PhD, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “Leah was a unanimous selection by our Luce Committee, and we couldn’t be more delighted.”

The Henry Luce Foundation launched the Luce Scholars Program in 1974 to provide an immersion experience in Asia to young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the region. The award provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for graduating seniors, graduate students and professionals under age 30.

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or

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