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(left to right) Kiernan Almand, Aidan Maguire, Ethan Severson, Callie Kim, Jack Preble and John Cole McGee in suits.
New Phillips Ambassadors, from left to right: Kiernan Almand, Aidan Maguire, Ethan Severson, Callie Kim, Jack Preble and John Cole McGee

Six undergraduates from UNC-Chapel Hill were selected as Phillips Ambassadors for Spring 2024 study abroad programs in Asia. Undergraduate scholarship recipients will study in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

The Phillips Ambassadors Program is a program of UNC’s Carolina Asia Center, in association with the Study Abroad Office, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. Phillips Ambassadors are selected twice a year and each receive a $6,000 scholarship. Selection is based on strong communication skills, intellectual curiosity and engagement, academic achievement, evidence of generous service to the campus and wider community and a previous record of leadership.

Twenty-five percent of the scholarships are reserved for qualified undergraduate business majors and minors at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Up to two scholarships each year are available to qualified Duke University undergraduates.

Phillips Ambassadors choose from more than 70 academic programs in Asia that are approved by the College of Arts and Sciences and Kenan-Flagler Business School. Scholarship recipients enroll in a three-credit hour global studies course designed uniquely for them. Led by UNC’s Earl N. Phillips Jr. Distinguished Professor of International Studies, Michael Tsin, the course challenges students to explore their study abroad locale in significant detail and seek understanding of the region in a global context.

A distinguishing feature of the program is an emphasis on what is called a “Give Back,” or sharing of one’s study abroad experience in Asia with the Carolina community and the student’s hometown. In accepting the scholarship, students agree to fulfill a Give Back related to their study abroad experience. Give Backs include endeavors such as published articles, presentations, art exhibitions and group projects focused on Asia.

The Phillips Ambassadors Program is made possible through a gift from Carolina alumnus Earl N. “Phil” Phillips Jr., an entrepreneur and former U.S. ambassador, and his family.

“Our goal with this gift has been to encourage more students to spend their study abroad experiences focused on Asia — an increasingly vital region of the future,” said Phillips, who splits his time between High Point and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The first group of Phillips Ambassadors studied abroad in Asia in the summer of 2007. Since then, more than 425 Carolina undergraduates have studied abroad in Asia as Phillips Ambassadors. The Phillips Ambassadors Program also oversees the Phillips Passport Initiative, a scholarship to assist students in applying for their first passport, and UNC Phillips Summer in Asia, a faculty-led study abroad program that has been based in Shanghai and Taipei. For more information, visit

The new Phillips Ambassadors are listed below alphabetically by North Carolina county, followed by out-of-state recipients.

North Carolina ambassadors


Aidan Maguire of Apex is studying through Yonsei University in South Korea. He is a computer science major and philosophy, politics and economics minor.

Callie Kim of Apex is studying through Singapore Management University. She is a business major and sustainability studies minor.

Ethan Severson of Raleigh is studying through Yonsei University in South Korea. He is a biology major and a chemistry and Korean double minor.


Jack Preble of Durham is studying through Waseda University in Japan. He is a political science and economics double major and a history minor.

Out-of-state ambassadors

Kiernan Almand of Alexandria, Virginia, is studying through the National University of Singapore. She is a computer science major and a data science minor.

John Cole McGee of Blacksburg, Virginia, is studying through the Thailand Field Site. He is an environmental science major and a pre-business and statistics double minor.

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