Campus News

Three Seniors Awarded Watson Fellowships for International Study Following Graduation

Story posted April 09, 2001

Three Bowdoin College seniors have been awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships to pursue independent research projects while traveling outside the United States for one year after graduation.

Bowdoin’s Andrew Mountcastle of Orono, Maine, Isabella Sarkisyan from Armenia, and Jared Hickman of Salt Lake City, Utah, are among the 60 college seniors nationally who have been chosen to receive this prestigious fellowship. Each will receive $22,000 for their year of travel and study.

Mountcastle’s research involves “The Cultural Response to Whale and Dolphin Strandings.” He will explore the relationship between the scientific and public sectors as they deal with the issues that arise from marine mammal strandings. He will travel to the Azores, Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, and New Zealand.

Sarkisyan’s project is “Bridging Borders: Young People Building Peace.” The purpose of her research is to explore the unique role of young people in peacebuilding, and how particular initiatives encourage the next generation to break the cycle of violence and prejudice. She will travel to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Macedonia, the Republic of Georgia, and South Africa.

Hickman’s research project is “The Magic Worldview of Latin American Folk Catholicism.” His studies will take him to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was created in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM Corporation, and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The program identifies prospective leaders and allows them to develop their independence and to become world citizens.

“We look for bright, creative, independently minded individuals who have the personality and drive to become leaders,” says Tori Haring-Smith, the executive director of the Watson Fellowship Program and a former Watson fellow.

This year, Watson Fellows will travel to more than 90 countries on six continents while investigating topics like the design of roller coasters, the classification of tropical frogs, monastic gardens, craters of Australia’s outback, racial constructs among the deaf, Tuvan throat singing, and the international art market. More than 1,000 students from 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities applied for the awards. Each student must first be nominated by their college or university, then compete on a national level.

Their year of travel affords the Fellows the unusual opportunity to take stock of themselves, test their aspirations and abilities, pursue their own in-depth study, and develop a more informed sense of international concern.

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