NEWS: Rice students receive fellowships

Rachael Petersen and Becky Wade, undergraduates at Rice University, are among 40 graduating seniors from around the country awarded a 2012 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Each will receive $25,000 for 12 months of world travel and experiential learning to study a topic of their choice.

Petersen and Wade were chosen from 147 finalists nominated by select private colleges and universities from more than 700 candidates for the fellowship, which is given to exceptional college seniors.

“Rice is extremely fortunate to be one of only 40 schools eligible to nominate students for the Watson Fellowship,” said Caroline Quenemoen, director of fellowships and undergraduate research. “The Watson award offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both personal and intellectual growth. Over the next year, Rice’s winners will find themselves exhilarated and challenged as they encounter a host of new experiences in pursuit of their passions around the globe.”

Petersen, from Temple, Texas, is majoring in both anthropology and public policy and minoring in poverty, justice and human capabilities. She plans to use the Watson Fellowship to study how indigenous communities are harnessing digital tools to assert their cultural identity and sovereignty around the world

Petersen will spend about 10 weeks each in Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia and Australia to get a broad overview of different indigenous groups – the Inuit, Surui, Schuar, the Kelabit and Aboriginal groups of the Australian outback. 

Wade, from Dallas, is majoring in history, psychology and sociology. She plans to use the Watson Fellowship to study the long-distance running cultures in five countries with unique and storied running histories: United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Japan, New Zealand and Finland.

The Watson Fellowship Program is a major activity of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, which was created in 1961 as a charitable trust by Mrs. Thomas Watson Sr. in honor of her late husband, the founder of IBM. The Watsons had a long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

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