Campus News

Marisa McNamara Awarded Watson Fellowship

Story posted April 02, 2002

Bowdoin College senior Marisa McNamara of Arlington, Mass., has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue an independent research project outside the United States for one year after graduation.

McNamara is among 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.

"I am thrilled and honored to have been awarded this Fellowship," McNamara said, "but I know I'm facing the biggest challenge of my life. My passion for my project - born of a combination of my love for children's literature and interest in Latin American people and culture - inspires me to make good on Bowdoin's Offer of the College that its alumni be 'at home in all lands'."

An English and Spanish major at Bowdoin, McNamara will travel to Mexico, Ecuador, and Argentina for her project "Through the Eyes of a Child: Stereotypes Perpetuated by Children's Literature in Latin America."

She will look at books taught in public schools and held in public libraries to see how they present indigenous people, both in the present and historically. She will interview children to discover how their perceptions of the indigenous are shaped by the literature.

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 extraordinary young men and women of extraordinary promise, individuals who have the personality and drive to become the leaders of tomorrow," said Norvell E. Brasch, the executive director of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program and a former fellow. "The program is designed to fund the most creative dreams of our fellows with a minimum of restrictions. The world is their canvas and we let them tell us how they want to paint it."

This year, Watson Fellows will travel to all parts of the world investigating topics like genetic resource sharing, vernacular architecture, spice production, trail maintenance, rural healthcare delivery, and traditional sailing vessels.

Nearly 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 basis.

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