Middlebury College Students Receive Watson Fellowships

Two Middlebury College students have been awarded
Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for 1997-1998. The students, Maciej
Ceglowski ‘97 and Renee M. Kuriyan ‘97, were selected from the
largest nominee pool in five years in what the foundation called
“an unusually competitive year.” Sixty Watson Fellows
were chosen from 182 candidates. Each Watson Fellow will receive
$18,000 to travel and explore a topic of his or her own choosing
outside the United States.

Maciej Ceglowski, of North Conway, New Hampshire,
will study “Painting in Northern and Southern Light.”
Mr. Ceglowski, a studio art/Russian double major, plans to do
outdoor oil painting in Scotland, France and Morocco. “I’m
following the climate,” he explained. “Morocco is very
close to the equator and very bright.” He explains his project
as the “equivalent of a photo essay.” Describing how
he works, he said, “I absorb the landscape and then it grradually
becomes something totally different from my first impression.”
For instance, he feels that in Scotland, where he will spend the
summer, his early paintings will not resemble his later ones.
Mr. Ceglowski is delighted to have the opportunity to be a Watson
Fellow. “Getting a sabbatical to do painting is really precious,”
he said.

Renee Kuriyan, of Bridgewater, New Jersey, will research
“The Environmental Practices of Refugees” in Kenya,
Malawi and Mozambique. A joint environmental studies/anthropology
major, she came up with the idea when she studied human ecology
in Tanzania in her junior year with the School for International
Training. Flying over the Rwandan refugee camps in Tanzania, she
noted mass deforestation. “I want to study the environmental
impact that the refugees have made,” she said. “There
is a link between refugees and the environment. Some of the camps
practice caring for the environment and studies have proven the
crime rates are lower in those camps. The refugees are proud to
have trees by their shelters.” Noting that there is more
to refugee camps than food, health and safety, Ms. Kuriyan will
look at fuel use and agriculture practices. “This is a great
opportunity,” she said. “I’m really excited to get involved
in the conservation movement in East Africa.”

The Watson Fellowship Program was started in 1968
by the children of Thomas J. Watson, R. Watson, the founder of
IBM, and his wife Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’
long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The foundation
selects Watson Fellows based upon each nominee’s character, leadership
potential, willingness to immerse him or herself in new cultures,
and the creativity and personal significance of the project proposed.
“When we speak to prospective applicants for Watson Fellowships,
said William Moses, the foundation’s director, “we ask, ‘What
would you do if you could do anything for a year?’” Watson
Fellows take this advice seriously and often have creative, sometimes
whimsical, projects.