Students awarded fellowships

Laura Humes ’16 and Ian Calaway ’16 have won Watson Fellowships, a one-year grant for purposeful independent study outside the United States, awarded to graduating seniors. During the next year, they will both undertake their own independent research projects.

“It’s an amazing fellowship. It’s designed to give students of unusual promise an opportunity to pursue a personal passion, one they are actively engaged in here in the United States, internationally for a year,” Ann Minnick, Director of Academic Programs, said of the Watson Fellowship.

Minnick said that both Humes and Calaway meet that standard in her eyes.

“Both Ian and Laura are really passionate about the work that they’re doing,” Minnick said.

Humes will be traveling to Jordan and Germany to study the Syrian refugee crisis, and then she’ll travel to East Africa to study the recent wave of Burundi refugees. Her journey will end in Thailand, where she’ll be examining the situation of Karen refugees from Myanmar.

“My journey is going to be centered around understanding the refugee experience and walking that journey to a certain extent with individuals who’ve experienced displacement from a variety of conflicts,” Humes said.

During his year-long study, Calaway will visit Australia, China, Russia and South Africa before ending in Brazil for the 2017 International Math Olympia.

“My project focuses on how math competitions and math communities around the world differ based on culture and how they combine both the elements of collaboration, a group of people trying to solve a problem together, versus competition,” Calaway said. “How does two people competing with one another increase their willingness to push themselves, or does it?” The title of his project is “Mathematics Community through Competition and Collaboration.”

“A lot of my motivation for caring about school at all was because I sort of fell in love with math competition,” Calaway said. “I was really excited by this idea that you can ask somebody a question that they’ve never encountered before, and they could still figure it out.”

According to Macalester’s website, 152 fellowship finalists from the Watson Foundation’s 40 partner colleges were nominated to compete on the national level, from which the 2016 class of 40 fellows were selected. Watson Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend to fund 12 months of travel, a health insurance allowance and in some cases, college loan assistance.