Eloise Andry ’14 and Ali Mctar ’14 have been named Thomas J. Watson Fellows for 2014-15. As recipients of the fellowship, they will each receive a stipend of $28,000 for one year of independent study and travel outside of the United States.
The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife Jeannette K. Watson, as a way to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs. The program allows recipients to travel the world and explore a diverse range of topics and disciplines.
Andry and Mctar were among 41 other students selected as Watson Fellows from a candidate pool of 700 and then from 150 finalists nation-wide. The fellows were selected from private liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States.
Andry is a Chinese and geosciences double major from Davidson, N.C. She plans on using her Watson Fellowship to pursue a project of her own design titled “Solid as a Rock? Life on a Volcano.” This project will explore how humans living near volcanoes regard and adapt their lives around volcanoes that simultaneously support and threaten their existence. Andry’s present knowledge of volcanoes is rooted in geoscience, a field she came to love after frequently hiking in the North Carolina mountains as a child. With the fellowship, however, she hopes to broaden her understanding of volcanoes by learning about their sociological element by listening to the perspectives of the individuals who call volcanoes their homes.
Andry’s research will be located in Iceland, Chile, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Indonesia. Each of these five countries possess a different style of active volcanism.
Andry is a member of Phi Beta Kappa at the College and also works as a geosciences tutor. “I am thrilled to have received a Watson Fellowship, and [I feel] very lucky to have this opportunity to study something I care so much about,” Andry said. “As my friends know, I love rocks, but volcanoes are simply the best.”
After her Watson year, Andry hopes to work for a few years at an environmental consulting firm or as a research assistant, eventually pursuing graduate studies in geosciences.
Mctar is a contract major in critical theory from Chula Vista, Calif., and is planning to pursue a project of his own design titled “Finding Peace Among Friends: Quaker Solutions to Global Problems.” He will explore how Quakers are a part of the peace process.
Mctar’s project will take place in Guatemala, Rwanda, Indonesia, Ireland and Switzerland, where he will engage with violence-stricken communities to observe how they understand, practice and transform Quakerism.
Mctar says that his family background – he was raised by a Catholic-German mother and a Muslim-Iraqi father – influenced his commitment to social justice, and that his early childhood fascination with finding solutions to some of the world’s most significant problems evolved into a love for the Quaker practice.
While at the College, Mctar has served as vice president of the rugby club and is a fellow of the Mellon Mays, Ruchman and Gaudino programs.
After his year of travel, Mctar plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either English, comparative literature, political theory or religion. He hopes to become a college professor, a poet and an activist, and aspires to be a leader within the Quaker community.
“Receiving the Watson is an incredible honor, and I am humbled by it,” Mctar said. “I’m thrilled to begin my Watson odyssey. It’s an opportunity for me to grow into the best person I can be and to learn how to tackle some of our century’s most pressing political and social concerns.”