I would like to tell you about one of the English-Speaking Union's most cherished programs – the ESU Luard – and since 2012 – Luard Morse Scholarship. The $25,000 grant offers students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the unique opportunity to study at a British University of their choice during their junior year. The Scholarship has provided a transformative experience to eighty-eight extraordinary individuals who have become trailblazers in business, government, academia and the arts. To ensure that the program continues and grows, we are launching a fundraising challenge to augment the dedicated endowment fund and provide support for more scholarships.
For those of you who are not familiar with the program, nearly fifty-five years ago in 1969, in a groundbreaking decision, the ESU Board of Directors launched a merit scholarship for HBCU students to study in the United Kingdom. The scholarship was endowed by a bequest in honor of Ms. Lucy Dalbiac Luard, a British national and an ESU member who wished for her legacy to contribute to the "furtherance of friendly relations with England."
We are very proud of this program because it was one of the most forward-looking scholarships at the time, offering Black students an extraordinary educational opportunity.
The first Scholar, Mr. Phillip H. Cole Jr. (1969-70 Wilberforce University/University of Reading) said, "The Luard Scholarship said to me: 'I can do anything I want to, anywhere in the world.'" Mr. Cole was a celebrated dancer, choreographer, master teacher, mentor and humanitarian, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 71.
In 2012 by a resolution of the ESU Board of Directors, the Luard Scholarship was renamed to the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship to recognize the leadership and contributions of one of the program's most prominent alumni, Dr. Laurence C. Morse. Dr. Morse, a student at Howard University at the time, spent his junior year as the 1971-72 ESU Luard scholar at London School of Economics. After earning a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Dr. Morse went on to have a distinguished career in the venture capital and private equity field, support a number of charitable causes and author a book about his college experience. Dr. Morse has been closely involved in the ESU, first as member of the National Board of Directors from 2003 to 2009, and throughout the years as a leader and generous benefactor of the program. During the ESU Centennial Gala, for his many contributions to the organization and the Luard Morse Scholarship, Dr. Morse was awarded the ESU Founder's Award and the inaugural Princess Royal Award, the highest recognitions given by the English-Speaking Union.
Dr. Laurence Morse is one of the eighty-eight exceptional individuals who since 1969 have been awarded scholarships to study at universities in the U.K. including Oxford, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics. And just like Dr. Morse, the other scholars who have benefited from the program are now business leaders, public figures, and prominent academics. All of them, to one degree or another, credit their study abroad as a major factor in their personal and professional growth. The program has truly changed their lives.
As Dr. Morse once described the Scholarship, "The English-Speaking Union of the United States received a gift in honor of Lucy Dalbiac Luard with the stipulation that it be used for a scholarship in her name that would enable Americans to study in England. The year was 1969," Dr. Morse recalled. "It was against a backdrop of public discord and civil unrest that the Board of the English-Speaking Union, in a most expansive and inclusive interpretation of its mission to create global understanding through English, by the stroke of its pen brought onto the playing field in a most magnificent way the segment of the American undergraduate student population for whom opportunities to study abroad were exceedingly rare, if not non-existent."
Younger generations of scholars confirm the program's significance. Mr. Shang Andrews, from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, NC, spoke about his gratitude to be the 2022-2023 Luard Morse Scholar and shared his excitement to be studying at Queen Mary University in London in this short video.
The Luard Morse Scholarship is awarded to the very best.
The selection process is rigorous and highly competitive. The Scholarship invites applicants who excel academically and demonstrate outstanding leadership skills, community involvement, and interest in international affairs, culture and issues of global significance. A Scholarship Selection Committee comprised of Luard Morse alumni gets to know each student through their writing, academic records, and recommendations and evaluates them taking into consideration six important qualities: academic excellence; intellectual curiosity; alignment of aspirations with the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship's purpose; resilience, integrity and adaptability; leadership and community engagement; and ambassadorship, the ability to serve as a communicator abroad and at home.
As part of their application, students are asked to share their goals for their study abroad; give examples of significant personal experiences that have shaped these goals; reflect on the impact their work activity or community service has had on others; and, following Socrates' saying that "to learn to think is to learn to question," discuss a matter that they thought they understood but have learned to question.
The top four candidates travel to New York City for the final round of in-person presentations and interviews with the Selection Committee. The finalist is awarded a $25,000 scholarship for a semester of study at any university in the United Kingdom. And since the Scholarship is for junior year, it allows returning seniors the opportunity to inspire their peers and underclassmen with the rewards that can come through study and effort.
In January, the Luard Morse Scholarship Committee convened in person for the first time since the pandemic to select the 2023-2024 Scholar. The finalist cohort included four exceptional students from across the United States: Michayla George, a Business Major at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee; Lorenzo Lugo, a Business Major at Morehouse College; Lanise Myers, a Kinesiology Major at North Carolina A & T; and Ellison Richardson, a Political Science Major at Howard University.
After a day of interviews and deliberations, the Selection Committee awarded the 2023-2024 Luard Morse Scholarship to Ms. Michayla George.
"This year's Luard Morse Scholar Michayla George … represents the best and brightest of American undergraduate students. The ESU is honored to support her educational endeavors studying in the United Kingdom. The entire Luard Morse community of Scholars joins me in welcoming Michayla into our ranks and wishing her a safe and extraordinary study-abroad experience," stated Darrell W. Hill, chair of the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship Committee.
The Luard Morse Scholarship is an indelible part of the ESU's programmatic fabric. The Scholarship's impact on young lives is undeniable – and immense. To ensure the program's future, in close collaboration with the Luard Morse alumni, the ESU Board of Directors is launching a campaign to raise funds for one additional scholarship this year. Donations to the endowment fund are also welcome because they strengthen the program in the long term. This campaign will ensure that the program continues to offer exceptional students the unique opportunity to explore their potential and gain the knowledge, skills and mind-set to be successful in the modern global economy.
During her address at the ESU Gala on October 3, 2022, at the Cosmopolitan Club in New York City, our guest of honor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal praised the ESU's programs for "making a person's life work better." The ESU Luard Morse Scholarship does make a bright young person's life work better. And it does it splendidly.
That's why we appeal not only to the Luard Morse Scholarship community of alumni and supporters, but to all ESU members and friends who appreciate the impact of this program on young lives. We hope that many of you will support the ESU Luard Morse Scholarship.
Please visit the campaign page on our website to make a gift. There you'll see that there are many donation levels to fit a wide range of budgets. No gift is too small to make a difference. The Luard Morse Scholarship is one of the ESU's most influential endeavors with an extraordinary impact on its beneficiaries. Let's make sure that it endures.
With best regards,