City College Undergraduates Receive Jeannette Watson Fellowships
Ajoku, a junior enrolled in City College’s honors program, spent
his summer completing an internship at the International AIDS
Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). An active participant of student organizations
at City College, including the Undergraduate Student Council and
the Student National Medical Association, Ajoku assisted in the
establishment and revision of the organization’s web pages, while
receiving in-depth knowledge of the organization’s goal.
was a stellar and enlightening experience,” he said. “I learned
the magnitude and impact of the people who are genuinely interested
in finding a vaccine.”
Ajoku, an economic’s major, was one of 15 undergraduates from
eight colleges around NYC that had the opportunity to intern at
such prestigious organizations. He and three other City College
undergraduates–Oghogho Edomwonyi, Orlando Gonzalez and Brandon
Bolin–belong to the selected group of 15 that competed for and
were awarded the prestigious 2001 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships.
According to Alice Stone Ilchman, director of the Jeannette K.
Watson Fellowship, the fellowship, now in its second year and
a program of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, was established
to reflect and address the Foundation’s belief that “talent is
broadly distributed, but only selectively developed.”
program focused on developing the real talent in the CUNY system,”
said Ilchman. “It reaches down and identifies people earlier.
This is a developmental program. We affect them earlier in their
The fellowhip, which lasts for three consecutive summers, requires
that fellows, all undergraduates in the liberal arts, participate
in challenging internships and a variety of seminars. During the
first two summers, fellows are encouraged to intern for organizations
in two of three economic sectors, including government, nonprofit
and/or business. During the third summer, they have the option
of interning in Chicago or work internationally with Save the
Children and/or the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Italy.
This year, all four City College students selected as nominees
to compete with those nominees from other colleges were awarded
have a wonderful sense of team spirit and also a kind of sensitivity
and openess to what they can give,” said Marina Fernando, Director
of City College’s International Studies Program and the Watson
Summer Fellowship campus representative at CCNY. “I think this
was a wonderful opportunity for them. They get to intern in places
they would never have access to. It’s a real pleasure to work
with material like that,” she added.
Surely, the fellows are an exceptional group of students. Academic
achievers, enrolled in City College’s honors programs, the students
appear passionate and concerned about their future and the world
around them. According to Fernando, these were some of the qualities
the committee interviewing the nominees was looking for.
The fellows were aware of the intensity characterizing the application
process, which included the submission of essays and recommendations,
a first round of interviews to select the nominees and a second
round of interviews, by a specific committee compiled by the Foundation
that included educators, artists and professionals, to select
the final 15.
hard work and fellows are aware of that. It’s such a dynamic group,”
said Gonzalez, a junior majoring in English literature and an
aspiring lawyer, who interned for Judge James Yates, with the
New York State Supreme Court, where he did research and debriefs
internship was more educational then work,” he said. “I learned
that the educational process never stops. Education continues
forever,” he added, noting that the internship “showed [him] what
[he] can do in the public sector.”
Bolin, a City College Scholar, also interned with the Supreme
Court where he worked with Judge Bonnie Wittner. He is a junior,
who has not declared a major, and is enrolled in the school’s
In the same program studies the fourth fellow, Oghogho Edomwonyi,
a junior majoring in international relations. Edomwonyi spent
her summer working at the United Nations Population Fund, where
she researched, edited and wrote for the organizations publications.
of my goals was to network,” said Edomwoyi. “I’ve always wanted
to be in the UN system. It was very empowering,” she said, noting
that the internship provided her with new skills.
am a better communicator and a better developed person,” she said.
In addition to City College, the Watson Fellowships were awarded
to students from the the College of Staten Island, Hunter College,
Lehman College, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, Marymount
Manhattan College, Pace University, Manhattan Campus, and Queens
Fellows receive a financial award–$5,000 for the first summer,
$6,000 for the second and $7,000 for the third–and a laptop computer.
Upon completion of the internship, fellows are required to write
three papers and submit them to the Foundation, along with the
journals they keep throughout the summer reflecting upon their
internship. Fellows also submit a final report, which has an oral
and written component, evaluating their experience. In preparation
for the second and third summer, students update their resume
and interview with organizations for which they wish to intern.
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