May 22, 2002

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: May 22, 2002

MIDDLEBURY, VT- For the fifth year in a row, three Middlebury College students were awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. Julie Hand of Manchester Center, a member of the class of 2002 who graduated in March of this year; senior Dane Springmeyer of Bellevue, Wash.; and senior Kelly Jewell of Woodinville, Wash., are the recipients of the 2002 fellowships. Each student will receive $22,000 to travel outside the United States and explore a topic of his or her own design.

Watson Fellows are chosen in a two-step process that requires nomination from one of the participating 50 top liberal arts colleges in America, followed by a national competition. After more than 1,000 students applied to the first round of selection, 60 Watson Fellows were chosen.

Hand, who will travel to Vietnam, Madagascar, Mexico and New Zealand, has titled her project "Chinese Festivals Overseas: Motherland Celebrations and Hostland Inclusions." An international studies joint major in East Asian and Latin American studies, she will study Chinese festivals in countries outside of China. The project will incorporate her interests in a variety of areas-music, dance, design, writing and travel. Hand said she is interested in how Chinese culture joins together with its host community, changes its traditions, or isolates itself during Chinese festivals. She plans to dance in street parades, cook, play instruments and design festival costumes, becoming a full participant in the festivals rather than just an observer.

Springmeyer's project, titled "Following Flyways: Exploring Global Raptor Migration," will take him to Spain, Egypt, Madagascar, Mongolia and Zimbabwe. A joint major in environmental studies and geography, he will study and record, with regional scientists, the migration and breeding habits of raptors in countries situated along global raptor migration "flyways."

Springmeyer will also study the larger cultural relationships between raptors and people by focusing on eco-tourism, primarily in Spain and Madagascar. In all places where he travels, he will seek to learn more about the role of international environmental organizations, conservation management practices, and local communities through case studies in which raptors are critical or flagship species.

"The project is a crystallization of my environmental concerns, a reflection of my interest in and awareness of other cultures, and an expression of my fascination for migratory bird life," said Springmeyer.

Jewell, whose project is titled "The Exotic Threat: Conservation of Native Species in Island Environments," will study and travel in Ecuador, Spain, Mauritius and Australia. A double major in biology and Spanish, she was inspired to study the relationship between native and invasive island species because, Jewell said, "It is generally recognized that invasive species are one of the biggest current environmental problems and will increasingly be so."

She plans to explore, first with professional researchers and conservation groups, the effects of invasive species on native ecosystems and the current protections and controls for these threats. Her project may include work such as rehabilitating native species, monitoring species populations, and assisting with breeding programs for species with dangerously low populations.

"I think [Middlebury's] interdisciplinary teaching and international focus draw students who seek an opportunity to explore an interest of personal, cultural, artistic or societal importance in countries outside the United States following graduation," she added.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was begun in 1968 by the children of Jeannette K. Watson and her husband Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, to honor their parents' long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation selects students based upon each nominee's character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture, and the personal significance of the proposed project.

In the history of the foundation, more than 2,200 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey. They have gone on to become college presidents and professors, chief executive officers of major corporations, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors and researchers. "We look for extraordinary young men and women of extraordinary promise, individuals who have the personality and drive to become the leaders of tomorrow," said Norvell E. Brasch, the executive director of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program and a former fellow.