March 11, 2008 — Kenneth Brooks Hickman, a third-year law student at the University of Virginia, has been selected as one of 18 Luce Scholars for 2008-09, which will pay him to work in Asia for a year.
The Henry Luce Foundation solicits nominations from 67 member institutions from across the U.S, seeking candidates who are "young leaders who have had no prior experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia or their Asian counterparts." The program — which began in 1964 — does not award academic credit or require attendance at a university, instead seeking to "provide an awareness of Asia among potential leaders in American society."
Hickman, 28, is interested in international law and arbitration, which he said is a growing field in Asian countries. The scholarship is a "great opportunity," he said.
"It is an environment with different clients and different countries, dealing with different legal cultures," Hickman said.
The Luce Foundation will arrange a working situation for Hickman. He has requested to work in arbitration in Hong Kong or Singapore, but does not yet know where he will be assigned. The scholarship will pay for Hickman's living and travel expenses while he is in Asia.
"He will represent U.Va. well," said law professor Caleb Nelson, who taught Hickman about federal courts and legislation. "He is tremendously engaged and has an intellectual curiosity. He enjoys wrestling with problems in an unconventional but rigorous way.
"He is also idealistic without being naïve, motivated without being abrasive and focused without being narrow," Nelson said.
Hickman, a native of Shreveport, La., majored in Russian studies and politics as an undergraduate at Washington & Lee University. Proficient in French and Russian, Hickman spent a month in St. Petersburg, Russia, interviewing residents about politics.
At U.Va., he has been involved in helping foreign law students get acclimated to the School of Law and getting settled in the community.
Hickman has volunteered to teach English as a second language to students from Central America, Ethiopia and Japan. He has done pro bono work for the Washington Area Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and he has worked on immigration matters for the International Rescue Committee.
He is president of the J.B. Moore Society of International Law, and was the organization's secretary in his second year.
"Brooks is someone who really cares about ideas," said law professor Dan Ortiz, who taught Hickman in classes on civil procedure and ethical values. "He is very active in class and enjoys passing ideas back and forth."
Hickman and the other 17 Luce Scholars will gather at Princeton University in mid-August for a weeklong orientation session, then fly to San Francisco for a country-specific orientation before traveling to Asia. The program will conclude the following July with the Luce Scholars gathering to give final written and oral reports about their Asian experiences.
Hickman has received a job offer from a Washington, D.C., law firm, which has agreed to defer his acceptance until he returns. Hickman is planning a career in litigation and arbitration.