|Photo by Matt Kelly
March 16, 2005
By Matt Kelly
Jonathan L. Robbins, 22, a political
and social thought major at the University of Virginia, is one of 15
of the 2005 Luce Scholarship, designed to increase awareness
of Asia among future U.S. leaders.
Robbins is a global health scholar who said he is planning
a career in international health policy, “translating
research into policy initiatives.” With the Luce Scholarship,
which provides a $22,000 stipend and housing allowance, Robbins
will spend a year in Asia or Southeast Asia working in a
public health job. The Luce Foundation stresses that the
internship is designed more for the students to have an Asian
cultural experience than to excel in their chosen field.
will be a year of practical adventure,” said Robbins,
who added that he would like to work on the HIV/AIDS problems
in Thailand. He already has pursued this type of research
when he traveled to Botswana in 2004, some of which is published
in the undergraduate research journal, Oculus.
During his undergraduate years at U.Va. thus far, Robbins
has founded the Student Interpreter Service, which
trains undergraduates as clinical interpreters in
volunteer in U.Va.’s Medical
Center. He also volunteers weekly
in pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Milagros Huerta’s
clinic, which promotes healthier lifestyles for overweight
children. And in 2003, he was one of two official U.Va. delegates
to the World Student Summit, Society and Health Committee
Robbins, a U.Va. biology minor who is fluent in French,
and conversational in Spanish and Setswana, the official
of Botswana, also has been named to the Raven Society,
received intermediate honors, been inducted into
the Golden Key Honor
Society, and currently lives on the Lawn.
Despite his many accomplishments, he said he was
surprised when he found out he had won a scholarship,
perhaps someone was playing a joke on him.
the final round of interviews, all the applicants were
sharp,” Robbins said.
He was competing with students from such schools
as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Tulane. Robbins
a Luce Scholarship by Ryann Collins, U.Va.’s last Luce
winner, who was a fourth-year student at U.Va.’s International
Residence College when Robbins was a first-year student there.
Robbins’ family lives in Iowa City, after spending
many years in Richmond, where Jonathan Robbins graduated
from Douglas Freeman High School in the summer of 2000. His
interest in global health was triggered in 1998 when, as
a 15-year-old, he accompanied his father, a counseling psychologist,
on a trip to South Africa, where he visited a clinic treating
was struck by the absence of medical treatment,” he
said. “People got the disease and they died.”
Since then, he has researched AIDS and the
medical reaction in Africa, spending the
summer of 2004
in Botswana examining
community home-based care for HIV infected
patients, and the use of antiretroviral therapy
His research in Botswana was underwritten
Center for Global Health and Institute for Practical Ethics.
Beginning in the fall of 2003, he worked
as a research assistant to Dr. Janine C.
the International Health
Care Worker Safety Center, where he conducted
bibliographic research on the spread of
AIDS through improper
“He’s an exceptional person,” Jagger said. “He
has a vast curiosity of the world and other cultures.”
Professor James F. Childress, director
of the Institute for Practical Ethics,
was an outstanding
choice for the Luce Scholarship.
“As a Luce Fellow he will represent the [United States] and U.Va.
well," said Childress, who cited Robbins’ broad academic training,
international experience and “wonderful personality.”
“Jonathan's record of academic excellence and service are exemplary,” said
Nicole F. Hurd, assistant dean and director of the Center for Undergraduate
“He has worked to build bridges of understanding and
compassionate care both at U.Va. and abroad, and I am sure he will continue
this exceptional work when he goes to Asia as a Luce Scholar.”
Jonathan D. Arras, the Porterfield Professor
of Bioethics, taught Robbins in several classes
as “a student of remarkable intellectual
gifts, extraordinary human qualities, and a steadfast commitment to making
the world a better place.”
is totally engaged in the issues and is always eager to
debate the merits of the texts we cover, but he never raises
his hand merely to hear himself
talk,” Arras said.
The Luce Scholarship, started in 1974 and administered
by the Henry Luce Foundation in New York
City, is a national competition
which 15 recipients
are selected annually. This year’s winners were chosen from a pool
of 115 candidates.
Robbins, who will graduate in May, is U.Va.’s eighth Luce Scholar.