Two Scripps College Students Awarded Watson Fellowships

CLAREMONT, Calif. (March 17, 2010) — Scripps College seniors Jeanette Charles and Maya Higgins join a select group of 40 college seniors as recipients of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2010-11. Each student is awarded $25,000 to conduct independent research overseas upon graduation. Scripps College has had five Watson fellows in the last five years, and is the only member of The Claremont Colleges with two recipients in 2010.

“The Watson Fellowship captures the essence of what Scripps College graduates are all about: asking provocative questions that challenge assumptions and enhance their world perspectives,” said Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga. “We are extremely proud of Charles and Higgins for their creative proposals and hard work throughout the application process.”

Charles’ project, “Afro-American Voices through a History of People’s Literature,” will explore the articulation of Afro-Latino communities and identity through poetry, other written literature, and oral histories in Venezuela, Peru, Nicaragua, Martinique, and Ecuador. She is a Latin American Studies major from North Hollywood, Calif.

Higgins’ proposal, “Islands in Paradise or Islands in Peril? Ecotourism in Fragile Environments,” is to assess whether ecotourism in fragile island ecosystems serves as a conservation strategy or merely accelerates environmental degradation. She will travel to New Zealand, Madagascar, Yap, and Ecuador. Higgins is an Organismal Biology and Ecology major from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This year’s 40 Watson Fellows come from 23 states and three foreign countries. They exhibit a broad diversity of academic specialty, socio-economic background, and life experience. As the 42nd class of Watson Fellows, they will traverse 76 countries, exploring topics such as policewomen in the Islamic world, medicinal plant markets, geothermal energy, large-format photography, and the use of hip hop in holistic healing.

The Watson Fellowships were established in 1968 to honor Thomas J. Watson, Sr., founder of the IBM Corporation, who had a longstanding interest in education and world affairs. The mission of the Fellowship Program is to offer exceptionally talented college graduates an opportunity to conduct independent purposeful exploration and travel outside of the United States to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community. Nominees must construct and present innovative proposals, secure substantial recommendations, and undergo an interview process. Recipients are selected based on several criteria, including the capacity for vision and leadership, demonstrated integrity, intelligence, and imagination.

To see all winners and their project descriptions, visit the Watson Fellowship website.

About Scripps College

Scripps College was founded in 1926 by Ellen Browning Scripps, a pioneering philanthropist and influential figure in the worlds of education, publishing, and women’s rights. Today, Scripps is a nationally top-ranked liberal arts college and women’s college with approximately 950 students, and is a member of The Claremont Colleges in southern California. The mission of Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.


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