The Henry Luce Foundation, established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time magazine to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China, recently announced its 2012-13 class of Luce Scholars. Luce scholars spend a year in Asia on a wide variety of projects, with their expenses paid by the foundation.
Amber Koonce, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of 18 Luce scholars named for 2012-13. She will spend a year in Asia to gain more knowledge of Asian juvenile rights and continue to raise global awareness of children’s needs.
Koonce is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, Koonce has advocated for a minority and elderly neighborhood against gentrification, assisted a policy professor with the creation of an electronic welfare system in North Carolina, and spearheaded the creation of a policy proposal to integrate local schools.
Currently, Koonce is the youngest individual appointed by the governor to serve as a board member for the North Carolina Council for Women. She has earned the Girl Scout’s Young Woman of Distinction Award in 2010 and the Pearson Prize for Higher Education in 2011.
Her most rewarding role has been as a mentor for incarcerated youth. For three years, Amber has led a student group to regularly work with incarcerated juveniles in Durham, North Carolina. Her concern for the plight of these youth prompted her to work with international juvenile detention centers located in Ghana and Scotland.
Koonce is also the founder and executive director of BeautyGap, a nonprofit organization that distributes dolls of color to girls of color internationally. (See earlier JBHE post.)