One University of New Mexico pioneer is earning another awe-inspiring accolade. Recent alumnus Emma Hotz was named a Luce Scholar–the first UNM student to be so. 

The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program launched by the Henry Luce Foundation 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 15-18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia.  

Emma Hotz

"I am truly humbled to be named a Luce Scholar and to represent the University of New Mexico and the State of New Mexico! Being the first UNM student to have received this award truly makes this achievement go far beyond myself,” Hotz said.  

You may remember Hotz, as the inspiring 2022 graduate who not only played a pivotal role in establishing the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center (AAPIRC), but created the Associated Students at the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position. AAPIRC continues to serve the AAPI community through programming, advice and belonging, and ASUNM has since assisted students financially. 

“I am so happy for Emma – she was a shining star on our campus – a true leader – our best and brightest. She richly deserves this honor.  The entire UNM family should celebrate her success,” President of Faculty Senate and English Professor Finnie Coleman said. “Emma has remained as humble as she is brilliant.  For many of us serving on the UNM faculty, working with young scholars like Emma is why we love being in academia – I know that is the case for me.  It has been an honor to watch her work so hard and succeed so well.  Her future is extremely bright and shows us what the possibilities are for all our UNM Lobos.”

Hotz also assisted in the creation of the ASUNM Emergency Scholarship Fund during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work, along with her service in Protect NM, led to her undergraduate thesis, which looked at how COVID-19 fueled anti-Asian hate through media exposure.  

“I hope that this moment inspires more New Mexicans and future leaders, especially WOC and the AAPI community, to reach high and apply for opportunities like the Luce Scholars Program,” Hotz said.    

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology, an Honors Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts, and a Race and Social Justice Certificate, she received the Clauve Outstanding Senior Award, along with the ASUNM Sandia Sunset Award. After graduation, Emma spent her summer at the Truman Summer Institute interning at Pathways to Housing D.C., a nonprofit that tackles homelessness and supports recovery through housing first initiatives. She now resides in Washington D.C. Hotz has also spent time interning for the United States Congress, New Mexico State Legislature, Albuquerque Mayor’s office, and the UNM Honors Research Institute. 

“Emma's receipt of the 2021 Truman Scholarship, which supports and inspires the next generation of public service leaders, speaks volumes about her dedication and passion for creating inclusive communities and serving others," Honors College Scholarship Coordinator Kiyoko Simmons said. "Now, as a recipient of the Luce Scholars Program, Emma will have the opportunity to broaden her perspective on a global scale, paving the way for her to make even greater contributions in the future. I am eager to see the impact she will make and look forward to her continued growth and success.” 

Although she will be heading to Asia for the next year, Hotz plans to eventually return to New Mexico to continue fighting against the inequities in her state. She also remains passionate about reconnecting to her culture and building spaces for the Asian-American community while she continues to develop her academic and career aspirations.    

“I am excited for my Luce Year and the opportunity to spend time in Asia to pursue social justice and creative work,” Hotz said. “I also look forward to the opportunity to learn a new language, travel, and indulge in the incredible food! This experience will continue to grow my global understanding and provide the opportunity to reconnect to my culture.”