Hope College senior John Luke Hawkins of Tipton, Indiana, has been honored as a finalist in the inaugural Global Citizen of the Year Awards presented by IES Abroad.

The awards recognize students who studied on an IES Abroad program in 2016 for making an impact through academic, philanthropic or personal efforts during their experience studying or interning abroad.  The program has honored six students:  three finalists, including Hawkins; one overall winner; and three with honorable mention.

Hawkins, who is a communication major at Hope, spent the fall 2016 semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.  It was a time of unrest, when students across the nation protested increases in tuition—and tuition fees in general—as putting a university education out of the reach of lower-income students, with a disproportionately high impact on blacks, whose average income is less than that of whites.  Classes were even shut down for a month due to the protests.

IES Abroad praised Hawkins for how he learned from the unexpected experience, both while in South Africa and in examining his own priorities:  “As an ally and activist, John Luke remained educated during campus protests, allowing himself to be open-minded and self-aware during challenging times. Additionally, John Luke's continued work as an Interfaith Ambassador upon returning to Hope shows that his fight for inclusion did not just end in South Africa. We were truly impressed with John Luke's tenacity and his desire for social justice.”

Reflecting on his time at the university, Hawkins noted, “This was a movement of activism that I became swept into as an ally:  a person whom knew my place as an American abroad student yet supported the fight for justice that was happening in my context.”

“This activism in South Africa wasn’t just a one-and-done type of situation; when I say my abroad experience was life altering, it was just that,” he continued.  “These new cultural and worldly perspectives gathered from my abroad experience will forever go forth with me in life.”

IES Abroad is a global, not-for-profit academic consortium of more than 250 top-tier American colleges and universities, including Hope, that provides premier study-abroad and internship programs around the world. With more than 125 study-abroad programs in 35 locations worldwide, the organization creates authentic global education opportunities for more than 6,300 students annually. IES Abroad offers part-time and full-time internships around the globe across a range of placements.  More information is available at iesabroad.org.