History Major Selected as St. John’s University’s First Henry Luce Foundation Scholar

Reem Nemmassi headshot
April 18, 2023

Senior Reem Nemmassi has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious Luce Scholars Program. This nationally competitive fellowship is awarded annually to 18 graduating seniors and young alumni nationwide. A double major in History and Art History with a minor in Africana Studies, Reem is St. John’s University’s first Luce Scholar.

The Henry Luce Foundation launched the program in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia. 

“The Luce fellowship emphasizes building a personal and professional network in a place new to you—which is a challenging and undoubtedly rewarding undertaking,” Reem explained. “When studying the history and cultures of North Africa in various classes, I’ve seen how direct, thoughtful experiences with people and places can show up positively in scholarship.”

A proud Moroccan and lifelong resident of Queens, NY, Reem will pursue her interest in Islamic art during the Luce year. “I am proud of my culture’s core values, especially integrity, loyalty to family, and generosity,” she noted. Since arriving at St. John’s she has followed that love for art and history, visiting museums and immersing herself in the subject of decolonization and the quest for equity. 

“I am interested in a career engaging with Islamic art and heritage in museums, so learning a new language and working with people in Asia is a perfect fit,” she said. Presently, Reem is investigating work opportunities in culture and the arts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

She has made the most of her time at St. John’s, joining several clubs and organizations. “If you seek it, there is an extracurricular activity for you at St. John’s. I’ve learned how to program theater lighting at The Little Theatre, was a contributing artist and Associate Editor for the Sequoya Literary Arts Magazine, and worked as a Research Assistant with the Cooke Center for Learning and Development in The School of Education.” 

Reem also presented at the recent Student Research Conference and leads the Skull and Circle Honor Society chapter in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “My favorite undergraduate experience so far has been working at the University Writing Center, a space with kind people who are always thinking about how to foster an intelligent and inclusive environment on campus.” 

Erika Vause, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Associate Chair, Department of History, has taught Reem three times. “Reem combines a first-rate analytical mind and intellectual curiosity with a dedication to principles, great sense of humor, and a warm personality. She is the kind of leader who leads through listening, and the Luce Foundation could not have chosen a better candidate to represent the organization in Asia.”