Right after finishing his last final exam of the spring 2023 semester, Kesan Ucheya (BSBA ’24) flew to California to intern with the County of Los Angeles’ Poverty Alleviation initiative.
A Luther Hodges Scholar at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Ucheya interned with Ernst & Young in Chicago before traveling to Rwanda to work as a business coach with Rungano-Ndota, a non-governmental organization founded by genocide survivors that empowers Rwandan youth through teaching entrepreneurship skills and community development.
“While being able to aid in the development of these youths was fulfilling, the most impactful part of the experience has been how much I’ve learned and grown from each and every one of them,” Ucheya shared on LinkedIn. “My time in Rwanda was truly one that refined to me what it meant to be human.”
Ucheya’s work exemplifies the spirit of the Luther Hodges Scholars program. A part of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, it builds on the former Kenan Scholars Program launched in 2016. It’s the result of a transformational gift from its new namesake, Luther H. Hodges Jr. (BA ’57).
“The Hodges family has succeeded for decades in building connections across sectors to drive opportunity for, and beyond, the state of North Carolina,” said Kim Allen, Luther Hodges Scholars executive director. “Thanks to their generosity, our scholars will now be equipped to do the same.”
It is a flagship undergraduate excellence program designed for business students dedicated to working across sectors to tackle some of the most critical challenges facing business and society today and into the future.
“Our program offers a different kind of business education for our scholars — one that aims to develop leaders who can work effectively and collaboratively across academia, the private sector and in public policy,” Allen said during a ceremony honoring Hodges. “They are brilliant, creative and well-rounded world-changers — each of whom gives me hope for our collective future.”
Open to up to 25 Carolina sophomores majoring or minoring in business (junior transfer students are considered), the program develops cross-sector business leaders through immersive experiential learning and local, national and global internships.
Scholars receive one-on-one mentoring, career advising and financial support for a range of business, academic and nonprofit opportunities. The program emphasizes the power of collaboration, and students conduct research on business issues connected to everything from environmental sustainability and healthcare to sociopolitical pressures on economic growth.
Luther Hodges Scholars don’t just dream about changing the world for the better. They already are using their business education for the greater good.
At the same time Ucheya was in Los Angeles, Chicago and Rwanda, Hodges Scholar Matt Warren (BSBA ’24) was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, interning with Jones Group International and learning about the future of security and defense consulting.
Class of 2025 Hodges Scholars Allie Dalola, Aadit Mehta, Nora Elsayed and Isobel Tuck interned together at Kenan Foundation Asia in Bangkok. They focused on how entrepreneurship and education can drive social and economic development in Southeast Asia.
Ryan Crowell (BSBA ’24) was a product marketing intern with Red Hat in Raleigh and became involved with Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity. Will Nichols (BSBA ’24) interned for General Electric in Atlanta, conducting policy research on Inflation Reduction Act tax incentives and calculating cost rates on project orders from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“This summer, I immersed myself in a world that was completely unknown to me,” Park posted on LinkedIn. “I focused on understanding how nonprofit organizations can help advance the Native American economy through various initiatives and private-sector collaborations. I witnessed the inner-workings of the not-for-profit industry and the vibrancy of the Native American economy despite the unique challenges it faces.”
The scholars’ work reflects the legacy of the Hodges family, longtime UNC-Chapel Hill supporters successful in business, public service and as advocates for cross-industry collaboration and innovation.
“They are brilliant, creative and well-rounded world-changers — each of whom gives me hope for our collective future.” — Kim Allen
After graduating from Carolina, Hodges earned an MBA from Harvard Business School before returning to UNC Kenan-Flagler as an adjunct professor of corporate finance and research associate. He then worked for the North Carolina National Bank, now Bank of America, rising to chairman, and later served as the U.S. deputy secretary of commerce under President Jimmy Carter.
His father, Luther H. Hodges Sr., graduated from Carolina in 1919, after working his way through school by repairing shoes, firing furnaces and washing dishes in Swain Hall. After retiring in 1950 as the vice president and director of Marshall Field & Company, he played an integral role in establishing the Marshall Plan to rebuild post-World War II Europe. He was North Carolina’s governor from 1954 to 1960, a driving force behind the development of Research Triangle Park and U.S. secretary of commerce from 1961 to 1965.
“No accomplishment is more worthy of celebration than the steadfast support they have shown to the next generation of our state’s students and leaders,” said Professor Jennifer Conrad, then interim dean, at the ceremony.
The program’s alumni have already translated their business interests into action.
Matthew Bravante (BSBA ’19), a member of the first class of scholars, is head of strategy for 21st Century Infrastructure, a land development firm with the goal of protecting California’s agricultural industry and helping the state reach net-zero carbon emissions.
Fridah Mbwaya (BSBA ’22) is an associate consultant at Bain & Company in Atlanta with a passion for social entrepreneurship and fostering economic growth in developing countries.
Gabriela Goodman (BSBA ’23) is a research assistant at the Brookings Institution, working to combat inequality and poverty in the U.S.
“I’ve learned to constantly seek avenues and methods to be able to help create and drive the change I want to see in the world,” said Goodman.
Read about two Hodges Scholars, Nora Elsayed and Hunter Vaughan.