Earlham senior Marisol Cora-Cruz has been selected as one of just 42 undergraduates across the country for the prestigious Watson Fellowship for the 2023-24 academic year.
Watson Fellows are awarded a stipend of $40,000 to pursue independent research in locations across the world. The title of Cora-Cruz’s project is “Understanding Maternal Healthcare Around the World.”
“Quality of life is a human right. It means having all the necessary components to live a healthy, peaceful, and long life without extraneous barriers, including having access to quality healthcare,” said Cora-Cruz, a senior neuroscience major from Puerto Rico. “This level of care requires evidence-based, people-oriented and safe services to be delivered in a timely, integrated and efficient manner at the disposition of all individuals.
“For my Watson project, I will systematically explore access to and quality of maternal healthcare, including the social impact of care delivery, in countries with drastically different healthcare models,” she said. “I am particularly interested in models that have varying degrees of government support.”
Cora-Cruz is the 44th Earlhamite to earn the Watson, continuing Earlham’s proud tradition of producing curious and confident global scholars. Her project will take her to Bolivia, England and Germany.
“Marisol’s project gives her an opportunity to pause on her way to earning an MD-Ph.D. in order to focus on the economic and social aspects of healthcare along with the medical and scientific aspects,” said Kari Kalve, Earlham professor of English and liaison to the Watson Fellowship.
“By spending time in countries with different approaches to funding and caring for women during pregnancy and childbirth, Marisol will gain profound insights into how social, economic and medical approaches interact and will be able to work for improved healthcare outcomes for all,” she said.
This is Cora-Cruz’s second major award in the last year. As a junior, she earned the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s top undergraduate awards given in the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics.
“I am so proud of Marisol. She has demonstrated again and again how Earlhamites can and do change the world,” Earlham President Anne Houtman said. “I wish her the best on her Watson journey as she seeks to strengthen her knowledge of maternal healthcare systems around the world.”
Seniors Darab Qasimi and Gloria Aligbe were also Watson finalists from Earlham. They were mentored and nominated for the fellowship by a diverse committee of administrative and teaching faculty members. The committee included Kalve; Tiffany Hong, assistant professor of Japanese studies; Corinne Deibel, registrar; Jennifer Lewis, senior director of off-campus programs; and Matthew Duffus, writing center director.