A Win Luce Proposition
USC’s Student Senate president wins elite scholarship aimed at exposing future American leaders to Asian business and culture.
CHALK UP ANOTHER prestigious international scholarship for a USC senior. In March, 22-year-old Tyler Kelley learned that he was one of 18 students nationwide chosen to be a Luce Scholar. The honor comes on the heels of classmate Jacob Chacko’s selection last winter for a Marshall Scholarship that will take him to Oxford.
Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, the prize – which seeks to increase awareness of Asia among future American leaders – will send the Sacramento native on a 10-month internship in Asia.
That Kelley is a future leader there can be little doubt. As Student Senate president, he currently represents 15,000 under-graduates and oversees a $1.5 million budget. He’s also the primary student adviser to USC President Steven B. Sample and the student representative to the USC Board of Trustees (whom he describes as “a welcoming, open group of people who are very curious about what is on students’ minds”).
One of Kelley’s proudest political achievements at USC is leading the Student Senate to push for a 4-unit community service class – to be offered for the first time next spring through the School of Policy, Planning, and Development. The idea grew from Kelley’s own project in a leadership seminar team-taught by Sample and USC Marshall School of Business professor Warren Bennis.
His presidential legacy also includes a key campaign promise fulfilled: after vowing to improve the senate’s outreach to students, Kelley began holding regular “office hours” in a booth by Tommy Trojan. His administration also conducted scientific student opinion surveys, sought feedback through questions on teacher evaluation forms, and started a Student Voice site (
www.usc.edu/org/studentvoice) to gather more input.
So passionate is Kelley about the senate that “the ongoing joke around the office is that they’re going to have to drag me out of here, kicking and screaming [when my term ends],” he says. An international relations/political science double major, he routinely spends 30 to 60 hours a week at the senate office, though he claims to lead an active social life and excels in the classroom. A 3.7 GPA and unbroken presence on the dean’s list attest to the latter. So does a resumé studded with scholarships and awards, including the J. Wesley Robb Endowed Scholar in Human Values prize, which he received his sophomore year for outstanding public service.
Still, Kelley has found time to do volunteer work with neighborhood high school students and the homeless, play soccer on the USC men’s team and work actively in fraternity governance.
“I have a lot of energy, and to some it seems like I’m bouncing off the walls,” he says. “I enjoy being productive and gathering people around me who are passionate about the same things.”

KELLEY'S AMBITION TO eventually work in the public sector as an elected or appointed official grew from watching his lobbyist mother in action. Then, in spring 1998, he gained hands-on experience as an intern in Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan’s office, where his duties included serving as a liaison between city representatives and local businesses and helping coordinate Vice President Al Gore’s visit to a San Fernando Valley elementary school.
But his interest also extends to the business world. The summer after working for Riordan, he interned on the corporate finance team at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in Los Angeles, where he so im-pressed his bosses that he now has a standing offer to join the investment banking firm after his Asia stint.
The specifics of that stint aren’t yet clear. “My initial interests were in Jakarta [Indonesia] or Japan, but after consultation with my mentors, China may be the avenue that I pursue,” he says. His assignment will be negotiated with the Asia Foundation, which provides placement and support services to Luce Scholars.
The scholarship is named after Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., who had a special interest in Asia, especially China.

– Melissa Payton



Tyler Kelley

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Photograph by Carl Studna

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