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~Two Wellesley College Seniors Win Watson Fellowships~

For immediate release:
April 9, 2002

Arlie Corday,
781-283-3321 or 2373

WELLESLEY, Mass. - Two seniors at Wellesley College, Diane Morgan of Wyckoff, N.J., and Lorena Ramirez of Union, N.J., have been awarded prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships to pursue independent research projects while traveling outside the United States for one year after graduation. They are two of the 60 Watson fellows chosen for the honor this year. With their selection, 41 Wellesley students have been named Watson Fellows since 1981 when the College became a participating institution in the program.

Watson Fellows travel to all parts of the world investigating topics like genetic resource sharing, vernacular architecture, spice production, trail maintenance, rural healthcare delivery and traditional sailing vessels. Nearly 1000 students from 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities applied for these awards. Students must be nominated by their college or university and compete on a national basis. The fellows each receive $22,000 for their year of travel and study, which must be conducted outside formal academic institutions.

Morgan, the daughter of Gregory and Sally Morgan of Wyckoff, N.J., will pursue an ambitious sailing trip, studying navigation and maritime culture aboard sailing ships in the areas of Denmark, Egypt, Holland and Samoa.

"I intend to sail aboard traditional sailing vessels in Scandinavia, Holland, the region known as Phoenicia in the eastern Mediterranean, and Polynesia," she said. "I want to immerse myself in shipboard life and explore both navigational tools and culture aboard each of the vessels. This project is fascinating to me because I love sailing aboard larger vessels, in which dynamics aboard the ship change with every new crew member. It is interesting to observe how the ship reflects the society it leaves, and how often how it does not. Furthermore, I will explore cross-cultural comparisons of navigational tools, ship design and cultural similarities, such as myths, traditions and songs."

Morgan is international relations major at Wellesley, with a focus in economic integration. She has studied abroad twice, first with the Sea Education Association, a combination of land and sea experience during which she studied oceanography, nautical science and oceanography. She also spent her junior spring in Berlin, Germany, practicing the language and learning about current European Union issues. While at Wellesley, she has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, at Boston's St. Francis Soup Kitchen and as a volunteer swim instructor at the Newton YMCA.

After the Watson Fellowship, she will pursue a higher degree in international relations, saying, "My life goal is to solve some large problem in the world and leave it a better place than I found it."

Ramirez grew up in Colombia, South America. The daughter of journalists and political activists Jaime Ramirez and Doris Zapata-Ramirez, she and her family fled Colombia in 1992 and received political asylum in the United States, an experience that drew her to helping other women in difficult circumstances.

"This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern at the Office of the Women's Ombudsman in San Josť, Costa Rica," Ramirez said. "There I was able to carry out a study about the conditions and reality faced by female prisoners at the only women's prison in Costa Rica: El Buen Pastor. The purpose of my internship was to draft a report for the government of Costa Rica, with recommendations on how to better the lives of female inmates institutionally."

Ramirez now will explore the theme of women in prison in countries outside of that area through the Watson Fellowship. She will study poetry and prose by women in prisons in Bolivia, Britain, Ireland, Peru, South Africa and Spain.

"My sense is that not only would I find many parallels, given the unique needs faced by this particular female population, but that it would be an incredible cultural exchange and an amazing cultural compilation to record the personal narratives and compile the poetry, thoughts, prose and letters of female inmates around the globe," Ramirez said. "This project reflects my wish to give women in prison that same opportunity to find their voice, even within a political and economic structure that excludes them."

While at Wellesley, Ramirez has interned for the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Costa Rica, the Oscar Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress and for a former U.S. senator from New Jersey. She has served as vice president of College Government, student representative to the Board of Trustees, resident advisor, treasurer of the Rugby team and senator for Pomeroy Hall. She is also the Student Coordinator for the Not-for-Profit/Public Sector program at Wellesley's Center for Work and Service. Last spring she was awarded the Emily Greene Balch stipend by the Peace and Justice Studies Department to fund her research on prison reform in Costa Rica.

She was also chosen by the Center for Work and Service to participate in the Wellesley in Costa Rica internship program in the summer of 1999, where she did research on gender-sensitive agrarian reform. A member of the Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society, she is student assistant to Spanish Professor Marjorie Agosin.

After completing her year on the Watson Fellowship, she plans to enroll in law school to pursue a career in Human Rights Law. She will graduate from Wellesley with a double major in Latin American Studies and Peace and Justice Studies this May.

Founded in 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in liberal arts and the education of women for 125 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students.


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  • Date Modified: April 9, 2002
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