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Three EC students earn prestigious Watson Fellowships

March 18, 2014

Three Earlham College students of “unusual promise” have been awarded $28,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for one year of post-graduation independent study and international travel for the 2014-15 academic year. The College is one of just two institutions nationwide to produce three Fellows in this year's class.

Basil Farraj '14, Maggie Jesme '14 and Cheyenne Stewart '14 will study alternative Palestinian identity, the incorporation of traditional medicine in post-conflict societies, and birth justice in the Americas, respectively. 

Watson LogoThis year, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation awarded 44 fellowships to students from 29 of the Fellowships' 40 partnering institutions. Earlham is joined by only Wellesley College as institutions producing three Watson Fellows. Other prestigious institutions producing Fellows include Rice and Lawrence universities, and Berea, Davidson, Union and Grinnell colleges. 

“That Earlham students received three of the 44 fellowships speaks volumes about the caliber of our students,” says Earlham’s Watson Fellowship Liaison Julie May. “These particular winners have tremendous passion about their projects. They are also projects with personal relevance.” 

Farraj, a Peace and Global Studies major, titled his project “Palestinian Borderline Identity: A Quest for an Alternative Palestinian Identity.” He will travel to Chile, Norway, France and the United Arab Emirates. 

“During my Watson year, I will analyze the notion of a uniform Palestinian identity that I have always been exposed to and functioned within,” Farraj wrote in his project summary. 

Jesme, a Peace and Global Studies major, will pursue a project called “Healing Sans Hegemony: Exploring the Incorporation of Traditional Medicine into Post-Conflict Healthcare Reconstruction.” She will study in 
Rwanda, India, Nepal, East Timor and Bolivia. 

“The post-conflict era can bring revolutionary reconstruction of community and state healthcare structures, expanding the sphere of access to healthcare,” Jesme says. “However, the prevalence of the international community in such reconstructions too often privileges occidental medicine, silencing local voices and notions of healing, as well as marginalizing traditional medicine.” 

Stewart, a Biology major, titled her project “Parto Humanizado (Humanized Birth): Exploring the Birth Justice Movement in the Americas.” She will study in
 Chile, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Trinidad-Tobago, and the Bahamas. 

“All of the countries are at different places in their realization of this global birth moment, and each locale has a unique vision of birth justice,” she says. “The movement is particularly unified within the Americas, where many cultures still have ties to traditional birthing practices. I will explore these unique visions and struggles while looking at the relationship between the traditional and the modern.” 

Since 1968, the Watson Fellowship Program, named for the late founder of IBM, has granted more than 2,700 Watson Fellowship awards, with stipends totaling more than $29 Million.

For more information, visit the Fellowship program’s website.

Interested in applying for Watson Fellowships next year?

Students interested in applying for the next round of Watson Fellowships can attend an information session at 4:30 p.m. April 9 in the Center for Integrated Learning Commons, located in Landrum Bolling Center.

Earlham alumna and Watson Fellow Sandy Hartmannsgruber will share her experiences during the session.

For more information, contact Jennifer Seely at seelyje@earlham.edu.

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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