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2013-2014 FELLOWSHIP AWARDEES AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

Joshua Anderson, Union College
As a son of farming philosophers, Josh spent his childhood summers dueling in rotten tomato wars, building stick forts, and cultivating the household gardens. Eventually, these adventures were replaced by a job at a fruit farm, where Josh was introduced to the benefits of farming. At seventeen, Josh's family moved to Maine to start a self-sufficient farm of their own. At Union College, Josh, an engineering major, lives out of a back-pack and enjoys dumpster-diving and building things out of scrap materials. He hopes his Watson journey will help him find a balance between self-sufficiency, engineering, and his community.

Sarah Aubrey, Bryn Mawr College
Before college, Sarah spent several years living and working throughout the United States and Latin America, where she learned Spanish. The diversity of her experiences led her to notice deep connections between people who, on the surface, couldn't be more different. The people she met working beet harvest for a Minnesota sugar cooperative to the carnival musicians and dancers she studied with at circus school in Argentina share the same problems, and many of the same hopes and dreams. A desire to explore and understand these connections led her to pursue the study of politics and philosophy at Bryn Mawr College. In recent years, she has pursued independent research as a Hanna Holborn Gray fellow, formed a collective of simultaneous interpreters who facilitate social justice organizing across language barriers, and discovered the joy of teaching language to both working adults and fellow college students.

Abdullah Awad, Williams College
From an early age, Abdullah has been motivated by the power of art. In high school, he founded a creative writing center, each year producing an anthology of work by underprivileged youth. His art is intimately linked to his civic engagements, which include co-founding the first Palestinian rights club at Williams, and building an NGO in the Middle East. When not writing, Abdullah dances with the Columbia Debka Brigades, through which he teaches Palestinian history. Travel fellowships on the aesthetic practices of everyday life inspire his Watson project, which is an opportunity to expand his exploration of how transformative art emerges at the extreme intersections of oppression.

Sarah Bacot, Rhodes College
Sarah's fascination with queer community comes from her own experiences and struggles growing up queer in Mississippi. At Rhodes College, she created a History and Gender and Sexuality Studies major to help explore the academics and history of queerness. She held a position as the co-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and also worked as an LGBT Community Development Fellow, developing new programs for queer Rhodents and their allies. Sarah's Watson project allows her to continue exploring the issues of queer identity and community that have shaped and motivated her life so far.

Loreal Bell, Berea College
Loreal Bell is a hip hop artist from Chicago. Hip hop has been both an outlet for Loreal and a tool for teaching and learning. She wants to learn from hip hop artists with a background in break dancing, graffiti art, and disc jockeying since her art form is limited to emceeing. Hip hop is male-dominated, with representation of sexualized women. Loreal does not fit in that category, so she hopes to create her own lane through growing in her knowledge. In Loreal's past she kept her voice silent in regards to hip hop, because it was not seen by her family as a career that would move her up in life. But throughout the years, she has proven that she can be successful in hip hop by being innovative.

Charlie Bentley, Carleton College
Even though not hearing-impaired himself, Charlie attended a high school designated for hearing-impaired students. He has worked to become an advocate for communities burdened by language differences after witnessing the social marginalization faced by deaf students. As a Linguistics major at Carleton College, Charlie's research has focused on how the modality of sign language affects cognition. He helped establish ASL classes at Carleton, tutored illegal immigrants in ESL conversations, and worked as a personal assistant to community members who are deaf-blind. As a business and language analyst intern for a multi-national corporation in Tokyo, Charlie independently formalized a company-wide plan to subsidize English classes for low-income Japanese workers after seeing how lack of command of English caused an unfair disadvantage to certain workers. He recently founded Carleton's apiculture society and has no idea what he's doing, but he will always root for the worker bee.

Lisa Bjerke, College of the Atlantic
Lisa grew up in Sweden. She has always been interested in the human relationship with natural resources and societal comfort with waste. Lisa studied natural science in Sweden before she was accepted on full scholarship to the United World College in Norway. There she studied and received an International Baccalaureate diploma with other international youth, in the name of "peace and a sustainable future." Her UWC experience enabled her to attend College of the Atlantic. She quickly took on the management of the college's composting operation. She is currently working on a comprehensive management plan for her community's composting program.

Haley Brown, Pitzer College
Fascinated by human impulses to create, revise, and perform realities, Haley double-majored in Linguistics and Narrative Studies. She began practicing improv as an awkward middle-schooler, and continues to revel in opportunities for exploration and PLAY. Haley has grown 4 inches in 12 hours, managed her school's flock of chickens, interned for storytelling organization The Moth, and served as the resident caretaker of The Grove House at Pitzer College. She aspires to form a caravan improv theatre - traveling the country offering workshops and performances to schools and community centers - and to become a radical teacher and children's book author-illustrator.

Samuel Bruce, Bowdoin College
Raised in London, England, until the age of 13, David Bruce became fascinated by the buildings, bridges and complex systems that make up the metropolis. His interest in cities led him to major in economics and environmental studies at Bowdoin, where he has concentrated on urban issues. David was awarded a fellowship in the summer of 2012 that led him to an urban planning firm in Chicago, where he used his visual-arts talent to diagram plans to redesign the city's wastewater treatment system. His interests also extend to the rugby field, where he plays fly half for the Bowdoin rugby team and serves as the club's president. He spends his free time exploring the wilderness and ski slopes of New England.

Lian Caspi, Whitman College
Lian is a lover of languages and of people, appreciating that language fosters immediate and lasting bonds between cultures. After moving from Israel to Seattle and adjusting to life communicated in English, she took up Spanish. She also studied piano and voice, becoming one of the top young sopranos in Washington State. Lian now believes music is the world's unifying language, universally spoken and emotionally linked. A psychology major at Whitman College, she has worked as a mediator, suicide prevention operator, and counselor for victims of domestic abuse. She is ready to marry her two greatest passions: music and healing.

Wilmer Chavarria, Earlham College
Growing up volunteering for his local TV station, Wilmer started editing his own videos at age eleven, and received national honors for two of them. At age sixteen, he traveled to Canada where he studied visual arts with a focus on video production. Later, he attended Earlham College, where he created his own independent major in cinematographic arts. In addition to the film projects he is constantly working on, he also enjoys singing in the college choirs, helping organize dance shows, doing theater, running cross-country, being a teaching assistant for different classes, and talking about world religions and politics.

Alice Choe, Wellesley College
As a student at Wellesley College, Alice developed a passion for studies in psychology, German, and music. Her psychology major has always been a reflection of commitment to understanding people's attitudes to an issue that, due to a friend's personal case, has deeply resonated with her for a while: domestic violence. Since the age of fifteen, she has had friends and family approach her with their personal stories, all of which inspired her to gather more knowledge concerning this issue and get a good grasp of the psychological workings that are inevitably tied to its victims and perpetrators.

Liam Cutler, Earlham College
Raised in suburban, conservative Iowa, for Liam, passion for queer space began as the result of a life once lived in the awkward, unmoored space of the figurative closet. Restless and questioning, Liam came to Earlham, but ultimately grounded and energized his queer identity in London's gayborhood where he interned at the Equal Rights Trust. Later working at Georgia Equality, he wrote the first published guide for transgender and genderqueer voters. Liam passionately seeks to understand the multi-faceted space that is significant to queer identities; he enjoys androgynous fashion, baking, crosswords, and breaking gender binaries.

Shilpa Darivemula, Union College
Shilpa is both a scientist and an artist. A fascination for science and a love for conversation directed Shilpa towards medicine while her training in Kuchipudi drove her towards dance. While living with the Mapuche in Chile, Shilpa observed the use of traditional dance to heal the community, blending the supposedly non-miscible medicine and traditional dance seamlessly. Through teaching dance to inner-city youth and interning in dance therapy, Shilpa has fused her dual identities into a single desire to understand holistic healing and plans on exploring this intersection of medicine and dance for many years to come.

DeAndre Espree-Conaway, Sewanee: University of the South
DeAndre's interests stem from an insatiable childhood intrigue with language, culture and history. He began teaching himself French in middle school and continues today to pursue even more languages including Indonesian, Italian, Latin, Old English, Middle English, German, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Ilocano, and Breton. He is an Anthropology and French Studies major who has studied abroad at the Canada Institute of Linguistics, Universite de Paris X Ouest Nanterre in France and the Universitas Negeri Malang in Java, Indonesia. He has also conducted fieldwork in Java through the Biehl International Research Scholarship on the Osob Kiwalan Ngalam language.

Hannah Groshong, Harvey Mudd College
As the proud sister of Bailey, who has Down Syndrome, Hannah has a huge appreciation for the joy, simplicity and honesty that Bailey, and others like her, bring to life. During high school, Hannah enjoyed volunteering with Lose the Training Wheels each summer when they came to Portland to teach kids with disabilities how to ride a bike. Since pursuing an engineering degree at Harvey Mudd, she has contributed positively to the well-being of students on campus as a mentor, proctor, and a representative to Harvey Mudd's Board of Trustees. With this project Hannah will be able to devote time to the special needs community as she explores inclusion practices around the world.

Srikar Gullapalli, Colgate University
Srikar has been fascinated with the political dialogue between citizens and government since he began representing at international debates. He was selected as a "Global Changemaker" by the British Council because he believes dialogue is essential for government to be a force of good. He is actualizing this vision with Shudhify, a project sponsored by the World Bank, British Council, and Colgate, that enhances accountability and incentivizes government towards dialogue. Additionally, he is working to increase government accountability for pollution in the Ganga and has interned with Transparency International and MicrofinanceFocus. He has also co-founded a business: PlaceWarp.

Priscilla Gutto Bassett, Scripps College
A dedicated practitioner of manual arts, Pambana has volunteered at rural and urban community farms in her childhood home of Harare and current home of New York City, and recently interned with a weaving collective in Chile. She is inspired by the multiple ways people who work with their hands express themselves, telling stories about their personal and collective identity while connecting with natural landscapes. Her studies in Environmental Analysis with a concentration on race, class and gender will frame her explorations of woven arts and weaving communities as producers of knowledge essential to addressing today's environmental and social issues.

Lauren Howe, Hamilton College
An Environmental Studies major at Hamilton College, Lauren grew up deeply interested in the natural world but didn't know where she fit into the broad environmental movement. Having regularly volunteered at a local food pantry in high school, she has always enjoyed helping people. Everything came together when she discovered she could combine her passions for social justice and the environment through sustainable food and agriculture. As a sophomore, she co-founded Slow Food Hamilton College, which advocates "good, clean, and fair" food. This year, she served as a U.S. delegate to the International Slow Food Congress Terra Madre in Turin, Italy.

Efe Kabba, Pomona College
Ever since she can remember, Efe has enjoyed taking herself and other people on imaginative narrative and visual journeys. Whether through acting, singing, writing, or filmmaking, using imagination to augment or escape the only life she's able to experience remains the constant in all those activities. As a Media Studies' major, she studies how media influences and forms our cultural perceptions and produces her own work in a variety of different mediums. Her current preoccupation is with how digital technology informs art and other disciplines, like the sciences, and also how those same technologies are transforming our physical environments.

Keri Lambert, Amherst College
Keri Lambert is locally-grown. She comes from the trails and streams of Amherst, Massachusetts, where she has lived for twenty-one years as a runner, fisherman, sister, student, daughter, and daydreamer. In her time at Amherst College, she earned All-American honors as a cross country and track athlete, traveled out of North America for her first time to work in rural Sierra Leone, and studied a little African and environmental history along the way. Keri is constantly on the hunt for new fishing holes, flavors, trails, and truths, and is eager to globalize her pursuit as a Watson Fellow.

Melissa Margolis, Scripps College
Growing up with a Zimbabwean father and engaged in queer communities, HIV has been a constant theme in Melissa's life and has inspired her dedication to health psychology and feminist art. The Motley, a feminist coffeehouse that she manages, is one of her main sources of inspiration. She believes its mission of community engagement and intersectionality to be widely applicable. While in South Africa, her experiences with edutainment as a tool of shared understanding furthered her interest. Her Watson project looking at HIV/AIDS edutainment as a vehicle of social change combines her interests in public health, art, and feminism.

Daniel Miller, Lawrence University
A native of Washington State, Daniel has composed music since before he could read. Equally attractive, the Northwest's ecological diversity led him to canoe lakes, hike mountain trails, explore tide pools, and count migrating salmon. As a music composition student at Lawrence University, Daniel received the James Ming Scholarship for composition. His music, performed in the US and Europe, often reflects his love of nature. A recent piece, Bright Waves, for duo percussion and interactive electronics, was performed at the SEAMUS 2012 national conference. Daniel wants to integrate ecology and music by using computer-controlled sounds to reflect our experience of the natural world.

Noah Most, Grinnell College
It took Noah a long time to figure out how his diverse interests in biology, economics and social entrepreneurship might relate. He managed a microfinance nonprofit that was dubbed a "Champion of Change" by President Obama, performed thousands of hours of biological research in labs across the country, served as a coordinator for Grinnell's alternative break service program, and oversaw part of his college's technological infrastructure. Through his Watson project, he will finally unite his passions by studying clusters of radical entrepreneurs that practice synthetic biology in bio-garages.

Minh-Duyen Nguyen, Swarthmore College
Duyen began fundraising and increasing awareness of sex trafficking at 12 years old. In college, she worked with women prostitutes while interning for a micro-loan program in Cambodia and continued her passion on women's issues through two research assistant-ships on women's political history. Her work with prostitutes and on women's historical biographies fostered an interest in sex workers' personal narratives. At Swarthmore, Duyen studies Political Science and Biology and seeks an MD-MPH focusing on maternal health. Duyen has also worked in several research labs and volunteers in Philadelphia's Vietnamese community. Duyen is a Philip Evans, Gates Millennium and Questbridge Scholar.

Ingrid Norrmen-Smith, Bates College
Ingrid has always had a dual passion for science and the arts and culture. She is fascinated by the brain, the organ that shapes our reality. Inspired by her experiences with stroke patients and involvement in neurosurgery research, she has become engaged in increasing stroke awareness and support. A lover of singing and theatre, she has forever been a passionate performer. At Bates, she combined her interests to double major in Neuroscience and French, sang in an a cappella group, choir, and participated in theatre productions. In her Watson year, she will examine how different cultures perceive and treat stroke.

Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Middlebury College
The first time Barbara fell in love was as a high schooler on a summer program in Italy. While her peers were awed by the history around them, she could not take her eyes off the people. She admired the fluidity of bodies as people spoke, communicating their feelings not only with their words, but with their entire beings. She fell in love with conversations and its power to convey the human experience. A Sociology and Psychology joint major, it is no surprise that Barbara has chosen conversations to explore the role of hair in Black, Latina, and Multiracial cultures.

Javier Perez, Swarthmore College
A Political Science major, and Philosophy and Public Policy double minor at Swarthmore College, Javier's interests in criminal justice and education trace back to personal experiences growing up in a predominantly Latino and low-income neighborhood. A jack of many trades, Javier spends his free time performing spoken word with a collective on campus, as well as written poetry on his own. He is active in a number of student groups, trains in boxing, and mentors underserved youth in Chester, PA. Additionally, he is a writing tutor, organizer of several charitable fundraisers, and an avid music lover.

Collin Perkinson, Reed College
Collin began playing piano at four and violin at eight. In 2001, he started a family marimba band, and later joined the Supadupa Marimba Bros. He has received five national awards for his musical compositions, which have aired on Portland's All-Classical Station. Collin now plays piano, mbira, chipendani, Irish fiddle, Greek bouzouki, guitar, marimba, and drums. He is also a choir accompanist, sings baritone, and plays in a piano trio. He loves sharing music with others and has performed in Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan. He wants to learn music from other cultures and become a composer, teacher, and performer.

Graham Reeder, College of the Atlantic
As a Human Ecology major, Graham studies points of intersection and overlap. He works with activists from all over the world at UN negotiations to highlight not only the intersection of social and environmental justice issues, but also the voices that are too often excluded from important decisions. By working in governance structures at all levels, Graham strives to learn about how to bring people together to strengthen our communities. When not in school, Graham can be found advocating and reporting at UN environmental negotiations around the world or having a potluck with his friends.

Jose Sanchez, Bard College
Jose Agustin Sanchez was born in San Cristobal, Venezuela. At nine years old he became part of a social musical program called El Sistema, as a pianist. During his early years, played piano around the country and won several competitions. At sixteen, he went to the United Kingdom to continue his musical and academic studies. During that time, he performed as a pianist in numerous concerts around Europe as well as conducted and performed some of his own compositions with the Choir of the Atlantic College of Wales. Jose is currently studying his senior year composition and conducting. As a composer, he has done works for chamber music as well as orchestra music. Jose hopes to go back to his country and contribute to the musical social program that Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu has started, as a composer and conductor for the hundreds of orchestras that Venezuela now has, and help the education system of the country.

Gail Schwieterman, Oberlin College
Although Gail's love of nature was cemented by spending her childhood summers running wild at the Columbus Zoo, it wasn't until she spent a semester living next to the ocean that she felt inspired. Her fascination with marine science prompted her to complete internships across the globe with the Galapagos National Park, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Hatfield Marine Science Center. Upon returning to Ohio, Gail worked to raise awareness for marine conservation through education. She uses her training as a biologist and experiences working with different cultures to conceptualize conservation issues in a way that bridges the social/scientific boundary.

Lindsay Stern, Amherst College
Lindsay grew up dropping letters out the window of her thirteenth-story apartment. Since then, she has channeled her love of writing into a creative arts program called WORDBOX, that she founded for disadvantaged children, and a recently published novella. At Amherst College, she majored in English and Philosophy and served as editor-in-chief of both the college literary magazine and its journal on social thought. She currently serves as a contributing writer to The Common and The Faster Times, and looks forward to a career in writing and teaching.

Siri Undlin, Colorado College
Writing lyrics, songs and fairytales since the age of seven, Siri has always been thrilled by the intensity of connections created between people through narrative and music. With her three siblings as her original audience, Siri has been lucky enough to perform with an array of musical groups that include Irish, orchestral, bluegrass, Balinese gamelan and a cappella. Siri was a music composition student at Perpich Center for the Arts, and is a Creative Writing major and Anthropology minor at Colorado College. She also participates in women's Rugby and women's Ice Hockey and is a volunteer printer and blogger for The Press at Colorado College.

Rebekah Ward, Colgate University
Besides her passion for social justice, Rebekah has an academic and personal fixation on communication and identity. Once a very quiet child, she envisioned myself as a set of eyes, but decided that in order to uncover truth she would have to be more outgoing, to learn about the struggles and identities of others. Subsequently, she pursued avenues that would stretch her from her comfort zone. She has since learned that she has a pressing need to work to ensure equality and to fight for the rights of marginalized peoples. She is still exploring how and why.

Jenny Wen, Rice University
Raised by a family of strong women, Jenny grew up fearless. However through personal experience and experiences of loved ones, she realized we still live in a world with pervasive gender inequality and tolerance for sexual violence. Through research and academic study in the US and abroad, Jenny explored gender inequality in the workplace, health care access, and international development. A vocal advocate for women's rights and social justice, she has volunteered in women's shelters and health clinics in the US, Ghana, and Nepal. She aspires to be a physician and human rights advocate who serves battered women in developing countries.

Emmanuel Whyte, Williams College
An honors candidate in his Studio Art and Psychology majors, Emmanuel became fascinated by the power that art can hold over an individual. When not playing football or working on his psychology thesis, he can be found working in the art studio. His passion for art has lead him to spend a great deal of time at the Clark Museum, browsing collections, working as a curatorial intern, and serving as an assistant teacher for the Responding to Art Involves Self Expression (RAISE) program. Art has even taken him as far as Egypt, not to mention the travels in his imagination.

Robin Wonsley Carleton College
Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Robin witnessed many of her relatives, friends, and peers fall prey to gangs, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and low wage jobs. Frustrated with the state of her community, Robin has spent much of her educational career organizing events and groups that aim to empower and mobilize individuals in her community, and cultivate public awareness about the various social issues impacting her community. This past year, Robin sought to increase awareness about mass imprisonment and recidivism by organizing a prison reform conference, and more recently, helped organize an Education Inequity rally in Minneapolis.

Maia Yang, Hendrix College
As a Business and Economics major with a passion for women's rights, poverty alleviation, and shared stories, Maia sought for a way to combine these areas to utilize her education towards creating progress. Upon receiving a service scholarship, she traveled to India, reinforcing the power of shared stories in igniting change. Back in the United States, she spent a summer interviewing Hispanic businesswomen, collecting stories of their trials and triumphs. Maia will now continue to pursue these passions through the vehicle of microfinance, collecting stories of women's experiences in creating businesses with this new financial tool.

Dustin Zubke, Harvey Mudd College
From a rural upbringing in North Dakota, Dustin united his passion for physics and his interest in different cultures to attend boarding school in New England and college in southern California. A Presidential Scholarship at Harvey Mudd College gave him the opportunity to be a first generation college student. To improve the sustainability of my college community, he helped design and secure funding for a water reclamation system to reduce the Claremont Colleges' water consumption by 42%. Building on this experience, he hopes to again combine his technical and cooperative skills to propel solar power to compete head-on with fossil fuels.

 
Copyright 2014 The Thomas J. Watson Foundation