by Alysse Schultheis
Offered by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the Watson Fellowship offers graduates a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States in order to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership. The nominees from Sewanee this year included Rob Goeller (C’14), Parker Haynes (C’14), Kelsey Koontz (C’14), and Tarver Shimek (C’14). Out of the several hundred candidates who compete for the fellowship, this year Goeller and Koontz were awarded the year-long Watson Fellowships and $28,000 stipend for 2014-2015.
Goeller will use his Watson Fellowship to look at soccer refereeing as a window into cultural differences. During his year abroad, Goeller will observe how referees deal with high stress situations, how the implementation of technology changes refereeing, and the difference between female and male referees, to name a few. Goeller commented, “I still don’t believe that receiving the Watson Fellowship has sunk in yet, and that a month after graduation I will begin the journey of a lifetime.”
The year abroad will take him to three World Cup venues, FIFA’s headquarters, and the birthplace of the modern game (Brazil, South Africa, Qatar, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). As an Economics major, he has “developed the firm belief that the best method to sustainably improve these countries is through the provision of capital and foreign investment.” Ultimately, Goeller “hopes to use the fellowship to better understand developing economies and cultural differences which impact business in foreign markets.”
On August 1, Koontz will fly out to Belize to start her journey, which will also take her to Ireland, Kyrgystan, and the Philippines. During her travels, Koontz will visit different women’s organizations to see how the women run them effectively while also balancing tension between providing support and tearing down societal barriers. Even though the year will be challenging, Koontz “will be inspired by the stories of women all around the world.” This journey holds special significance for Koontz since the inspiration for the project comes from a time in her life when she “endured a tragic loss, and felt completely disempowered from it.” Koontz was able to build resilience from the support of the other women in her life, and because of that “she found a meaningful purpose in the pain.”
This project is a continuation of the support she found, and Koontz aims to “live the next year (and the rest of my life) both empowering and being empowered by other women as we share out powerful stories and change the world.” After her Fellowship ends, Koontz hopes to return with a better sense of how she wants to combine her experience in politics and women’s studies throughout her life.
From the many people who support her, Koontz thanks her Sewanee friends and mentors, the Women of the Wick, the Menas family, and especially her dad, who she misses every day but knows he would support her paving her own way and moving forward. colleges, only 11 (including Sewanee) had two Fellows, and since 1985 Sewanee has produced 45 fellowship recipients. Anyone interested in applying for the Watson Fellowship in the future can learn more <a href=”http://academics.sewanee.edu/the-watson-