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Watson Nominees Hope to Explore Cultures and Interests Around the Globe

One or more of four students could travel the globe to discover new cultures and explore their passions, as Watson Fellow hopefuls.

Kelly Johnson of Reading, Pa., Anna Shultes of Queensbury, N.Y., Danielle Kritz, of Downingtown, Pa. and Vivian Viera of Freehold, N.J., are Ursinus’s nominees to The Watson Foundation’s Fellowship program, in which selected students from 40 partner colleges travel around the globe pursuing their projects.

The fellowship supports a year of travel and study. Finalists are announced in mid-March. Ursinus was invited as a partner school in 2001, and has seen nine in the last decade.

The Ursinus nominees have proposed these projects:

Kelly Johnson

Serving One Another: Exploring Religion and Social Justice in Action

This project explores the intersection of religion and social justice; I want to consider the extent to which a person’s religious convictions strengthens his or her commitment to social justice. To explore this topic, I am interested in participating in multi-religious worship services, meeting with religious leaders and people of faith to learn about their community service work, and learning the stories and motivations of those who serve their religious communities through musical worship. I hope to see how I can both deepen and question my religious convictions and see how my perspective of social justice can potentially expand by exposing myself to those who truly have committed themselves—through religion and/or social justice—to living their lives purposefully by serving others

Anna Shultes

Finding Care in Healthcare

Through my project, I hope to discover more about the people who work in healthcare, and how they’re able to retain empathy despite unfavorable circumstances. I want to know what the role of empathy is in nursing and how this role varies depending on the culture and healthcare model in which it exists. I hope that by visiting five countries with different cultures, expectations, and healthcare systems, I’m able to learn more about nurses as people and how they’re able to keep their passion throughout a long and emotionally exhausting career.

Danielle Kritz

The ‘X’-Factor: Exploring How Women in STEM Navigate Gender Bias

Traditionally underrepresented in the sectors of science and technology, women must learn how to navigate a male-dominated environment. At each stage of the pipeline, from fostering an interest as a girl, to pursuing collegiate education, to finding and maintaining a career, a woman may face any number of obstacles rooted in her female identity that cause her to change course. For my Watson year, I will explore both the common and culturally specific challenges faced by women in STEM at each of these three stages. Moreover, I would like to understand how managing these challenges is affected by the presence or lack of a female mentor. My goal during my Watson year is to create a collection of the personal stories of these women, their motivations, and their sources of support that provide them the encouragement to persevere. Through these relationships, I hope to build a unique community of role models from which I can gather a “toolbox” of approaches for remaining resolved and passionate as a woman in STEM and investigate how such approaches can be applied to current female empowerment efforts.

Vivian Viera

No Me Diga: Intersections of Culture, Gender, Identity and Stories

No matter what creative platform is used – film, sculpture, poetry or art – the underlying story of a piece is what captivates and connects people. I will spend my Watson year by exploring the narrative of female Latin American storytellers to look at the intersection of identity, gender, culture and stories. I will also document my experiences through the whole year to tell the story of how I explore my own Latin American identity, something I’ve struggled with all my life. I plan to travel through Latin America and Spain, discovering the local art scene of each culture I visit. I will meet, observe and interview the creative process of female Latina storytellers in these places. I also want to observe and interact with the cultural and gender contexts within which these women create their stories. I hope to embrace what I have felt insecure of my whole life - my relationship to my Latin roots, while transforming as a storyteller who hopes to eventually help others be heard.