Selena Mari Lucas (Higa)

Photo of Selena Lucas
Class of 2021
Major: Sociology - Applied Family Studies; Psychology - Community Clinical

As an international student from Okinawa, Japan, recent Walsh University alumna Selena Mari Lucas (Higa) has always loved to sing. From an early age, singing was a tool she used to help cross cultural divides. Nicknamed a “social justice warrior” in high school, Selena would like to one day use her voice beyond singing, to help advocate for the voiceless. 

“I grew up singing as it was just something that genuinely brought me joy. Being a biracial person, I have felt very lost at times when it comes to my identity, but music was always an outlet for me to express myself,” said Selena. “I feel as if music connects people regardless of their race or gender. I felt as if I was able to break that barrier and connect with people in another way. I truly believe that it has the power to heal and bring people together regardless of their background.” 

Originally from Texas, Selena moved with her family to her mother’s hometown of Okinawa, Japan, at the age of 5, where she had to learn to speak Japanese and adapt to a new culture on the small island. She grew up attending international schools in which she completed her studies in English using a Western curriculum and studied Japanese as a second language. She is now fluent in Japanese. When she was 14 years old, Selena auditioned for the X-Factor and made it to the Top 15 on the show. 

“As Japanese is my second language, at times I found it hard to communicate with others efficiently,” said Selena. “Being on the show opened up a lot of opportunities for me in my hometown. The exposure from the show allowed me to perform at different venues and gain a few supporters.” 

With a passion for helping others and an international perspective of social justice issues, Selena has found her purpose at Walsh University as a member of the Blouin Global Scholars Program. 

“Okinawa is a very small island and when it comes to opportunities, it is very limited. I have two older siblings who moved back to the United States for university. My older sister, Ashley Lucas ’16, was in the Blouin program and told me about all that she was learning and how she was getting involved with the community.” 

Ashley Lucas was a member of the first Blouin Global Scholars class of 15 students studying hunger issues. The program began in 2012 to provide students with a unique opportunity to join a community of students and faculty dedicated to using scholarship and service to address local and global challenges. Selena’s cohort is exploring the global issue of “Education, Equity and Opportunity.” 

“As I already knew that I would be leaving my hometown for university, the idea that this program would allow me to widen my horizon even more by studying social issues on a global level seemed too good to pass by. I am so happy that I chose Walsh University. I feel as if it has allowed me to grow as a person. Moving far away from home was definitely scary, but my time at Walsh has made it all worth it.”  

One highlight of her education has been the opportunity to travel with her Blouin cohort to study gender inequalities in the education system in Uganda during her sophomore year.  “That experience impacted me so much as a person because it made me fully realize that privilege is not a right,” said Selena. “Privilege is simply privilege.” 

Selena graduated in 2021 with a degree in Sociology Applied Family Studies and Psychology Community Clinical. She plans to continue her education with graduate school at Walsh and eventually open her own bilingual practice back home in Okinawa to help provide her community with more access to mental health resources. 

“In Japan mental health is extremely taboo regardless of the high suicide rate. I hope to take what I learned here at Walsh to help end the stigma of mental health within Eastern culture,” said Selena. “I love the Blouin program because I’m able to use my voice to further advocate for those who cannot do so themselves. There are so many social issues that need to be addressed in our time, but if I am able to even make a slight difference within society, that would mean the world to me.”