Student Wins Thomas J. Watson Traveling Fellowship

May 29, 2013
Alice Choe '13, far left, shown here with fellow Wellesley Watson Nominees

Alice Choe ’13, has been awarded a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2013-14. The fellowship offers recent graduates of "unusual promise" a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel—in international settings new to them—to enhance their resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their participation in the world community.

Choe’s project, Complications in Domestic Violence: Exploring the Interrelationships Between Law, Religion, and Media, will take her to Jordan, India, East Timor, and Thailand. In her Watson proposal Choe wrote, “Traveling to these four countries will expose me to all the complex relationships between legal systems, religious beliefs, and social norms that are heavily embedded in the issue, and help me understand what motivates women in different cultures to pursue different agencies as a means of escaping an abusive relationship.”

“Now that the international community has shown more solidarity against abuse of women, I know my investment in this project is timely and necessary,” Choe said. “I've worked in domestic violence agencies before, and I realize over and over again how multi-faceted this issue is. Our tendency to address this issue as simply ‘domestic violence against women’ excludes certain things –like political, economic, legal, and cultural factors—that inherently make [domestic violence] such a persistent issue. It's only human to want to simplify issues; but sometimes, it's necessary to complicate things—all in hopes of understanding and tackling those issues more effectively.”

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 to honor IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson’s long-standing interest in education and world affairs. Wellesley was first included in the Watson competition in 1980. Since then, 56 Wellesley women have won Watson fellowships, according to Ellie Perkins, director of Fellowship Programs.

“I'm incredibly excited for the challenges that lie ahead of me, because it's precisely those that will help me learn new truths and inch closer to an understanding of myself,” Choe said. “One of the things that I look forward to most: finding a community among strangers, who will evolve into acquaintances and then friends.”