Curiosity and Watson Fellowship Propel Bowdoin Seniors Around the Globe

By Rebecca Goldfine
Three Bowdoin students have received Watson Fellowships to travel for twelve straight months next year, following unique intineraries around the world.

In any given year, Bowdoin usually has one or sometimes two Watson fellows. But three? That is very unusual, said Corey Colwill, who administers the program for the College's Office of Student Fellowships and Research.

 “We've only had three fellows selected in the same year twice in the past, so this is pretty momentous,” Colwill said.

This spring, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship awarded thirty-five awards—out of 154 finalists—to graduating seniors from forty-one participating colleges and universities. Each traveler decides what to study, where to go, how long to stay, whom to meet, and when to change course, according to the foundation.

The Watson foundation reported that its 2024 fellows, who depart Aug. 1, will collectively visit sixty-four countries and pursue a diverse assortment of topics, including community-centered AI, end-of-life care, interfaith advocacy, seabird communities, and soundscapes.

All fellows receive a one-year stipend of $40,000, as well as health insurance, payments toward certain educational loans, and an extra stipend for the support of personal assistance services or a spouse.

Bowdoin's 2024 Watson Fellows

Ebe Figueroa
Ebe Figueroa

Ebe Figueroa ’24, "Learning to Conserve: Building an Inclusive Conservation Movement"

Countries on route: Japan, Oman, India, South Africa, and Bolivia 

Project summary: "The current climate crisis and long-standing social inequalities threaten our rights to equal education and a clean planet. During my Watson year, I will explore the intersectionalities between these two global issues by looking into the question, “How are communities using different forms of education to promote access to and interest in the environment?” I will explore the relationship between conservation and education and the role of people in advocating for a sustainable and inclusive world."

Professional interests: My long-term goal is to work toward creating equitable climate adaptation and conservation strategies through activism, research, and education. 

Maya Lamm
Maya Lamm ’24

Maya Lamm ’24, Intergenerational Relationships: Amplifying Voices of All Ages

Countries on route: The Netherlands, India, England, Peru, and Thailand

Project summary: “Ageism is a prejudice that targets our future selves. If we can focus on the value rather than the burden of an aging population, we can work toward a better future for our own parents, and eventually ourselves. So, how do societies around the world give voice to elders? More specifically, how are younger populations empowering elders, and in return, what are they gaining from intergenerational relationships? On a Watson year, I will continue to learn from older adults and the way that societies treat them. I ultimately hope to learn how distant generations can unite to strengthen communities.”

Professional interests: “I would like to work for and with elders...Ultimately, I hope to combat ageism by replacing the stigma around aging with an appreciation for the value of older adults.”

Ereny Morcos

Ereny Morcos ’24, Building Home Outside of Home

Countries on route: Mexico, Jordan, Germany, and Australia

Project summary: “The focus of this project is to analyze the ways in which immigrants, migrants, and refugees establish home outside of home by connecting with local organizations and resources to redefine their concept of home. Several components of what community and home mean to me, including religion, health care, education, food, and culture will be shared by amplifying the voices of these communities. Ultimately, I hope to answer the question: how do migrants and refugees define home and maintain their identity as they build homes outside of home while sharing their important cultures and traditions with others?”

Professional interests: “I hope to help ameliorate health care disparities, with a focus on low-income minority communities through holistic patient care.”