Six Macaulay Honors College Students Named 2011 Jeannette K. Watson Fellows

The distinguished fellowship program grooms freshmen and sophomores for professional and personal leadership.

Six Macaulay Honors College students have been awarded 2011 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships. The three-year Fellowship program offers paid summer internships, mentoring, and enhanced educational opportunities to New York City undergraduates who demonstrate exceptional promise, outstanding leadership skills, and commitment to the common good.

This year’s recipients of the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship at Macaulay Honors College are Kyle Athayde ’13 and Agnieszka Gugala ’14 of Hunter College, Michelle Chan ’13 from Queens College, Elizabeth Kelman ’13 and Nicholas Macaluso ’14 from the City College of New York, and Katelyn McQuater ’13 from Brooklyn College.

A second-year Macaulay Honors College University Scholar at Hunter College, Kyle Athayde has achieved much. While he was in elementary school, he set up a chess club which went on to win third at the National Championships. At the age of 12, Kyle saw the need to support young people in the NYC public school system and founded a non-profit to aid the development of academic skills in underprivileged children in Harlem. He also had the privilege of playing chess against Gary Kasparov. Kyle attended secondary school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. With broad interests in English, Political Science and Finance, Kyle aspires to work in politics, writing or education.

Agnieszka Gugala is considering a career as either a professor, a mathematician, or an architect. A first-year Macaulay Honors College University Scholar at Hunter College, she is considering majoring in Math, Psychology, Art or Political Science. This wide range of interests also demonstrates itself in the extracurricular activities Agnieszka takes on. She volunteers weekly at a Polish supplementary school, tutors math at East Side Community High School, and was artistic director at Stuyvesant High School of which she is a graduate. In addition she volunteered at the Narrows Community Theatre, assisting in the building of the set for Les Misérables. Agnieszka is fluent in English and Polish.

In her second year at Queens College, Michelle Chan is a Macaulay Honors College University Scholar majoring in English with aspirations of becoming a public interest lawyer. She spent the summer of 2010 working on Project AHEAD to develop and implement a community health initiative among local school-age children in Chinatown. It was through this experience that Michelle was introduced to the field of public interest law, and her own research led to the realization that her area of particular interest would be women’s rights. Fluent in English and Cantonese, Michelle managed the boys’ gymnastics team at the Bronx High School of Science of which she is a graduate. She is currently a Jewish Foundation for Education of Women Scholar.

A pre-medical student at Macaulay Honors College at City College, Elizabeth Kelman aspires to a career in medicine, public health, public policy advocacy, and/or political activism. Elizabeth has a strong interest in urban gardening as well as environmental issues. She helped organize the City Agriculture Network and a community kitchen garden at CCNY. Last summer she was an education/policy intern at Earth Day Network, an environmental not-for-profit organization in Washington, DC. While in high school, she also volunteered for six weeks in Mexico at a community development project involving tree-planting. A New York native, Elizabeth attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. She is currently a Lisa Goldberg/Revson and William R. Kenan Leadership Scholar. She is enrolled in the CUNY BACCALAUREATE for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies program.

An engineering major, Nicholas Macaluso understands the need for his skills in the non-profit sector. In his first year at City College of New York as a Macaulay Honors College University Scholar, Nicholas has already set his long-term goals on working as an engineer for a not-for-profit or non-governmental humanitarian organization. Nicholas is a graduate of Midwood High School in Brooklyn and used last summer as an opportunity to learn woodworking and carpentry. Interested in Yoga and martial arts, he is also an accomplished student of Capoeira, having studied since the age of nine and was made an instructor by the time he was 15 years old.

A Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College student, Katelyn McQuater hails from Michigan. Interested both in Creative Writing and Spanish literature, she looks forward to a career involving the world of writing, either as a nature and travel writer, a senior editor at a publishing house, or a television script writer. She won a much coveted editorial internship at Penguin Books last summer, one of forty interns chosen out of 2,400 applicants. At Brooklyn College, she is an active leader serving both on the Macaulay Scholars Council and an Ambassador for the Brooklyn College Honors Program.

These six JK Watson Fellows are about to begin the process of interviewing for their first Watson summer internships. In the past, recipients have spent their first summer at such organizations as the New York Historical Society, DonorsChoose, Echoing Green, and the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

Established by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in 1999, the Fellowship operates on the principle that “talent is broadly distributed but only selectively developed.” Watson Fellows have their pick of coveted job placements (“work they can learn from”) over three consecutive summers in non-profit agencies, business organizations, and government service that give them a chance to grow and develop interpersonal skills and gain self-confidence in a variety of professional settings. In the third summer, Watson Fellows can apply for an international assignment through partnerships with the Institute of International Education, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Save the Children, and many other organizations.

A summer series of weekly seminars further enhances the learning experience by encouraging debate and interaction and also by providing an opportunity for Watson Fellows to share learning from their work experiences. Visits to cultural institutions like Shakespeare in the Park, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Museum of Natural History enable students to discover New York City’s free summer offerings. Every Watson Fellow receives a generous stipend as compensation and support for summer employment and continuing Fellowship obligations.

Twelve colleges in all, including eight senior CUNY colleges, with seven of which Macaulay works – Baruch College, Brooklyn College, the City College of New York, the College of Staten Island, Hunter College, Lehman College, and Queens College – compete annually for fifteen Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship openings; at least one college from each borough is included in the group of eligible schools. Each school may nominate up to four candidates to send to the citywide selection panels. Campus Representatives are responsible for spreading the word about the Fellowship and navigating students through the entire process. Only the most determined candidates complete the rigorous application process.

Thirty previous Macaulay Honors College students were or are currently active Jeannette K. Watson Fellows: (2002) Priya Suryanarayanan, Anja Vojvodic, and Roberta Winters; (2003) Claudio Simpkins; (2004) Frank Copeli, Ron Kagan, Katherine McCarthy, Melody Messina, and Khadija Rentas; (2005) Sara Butler, Christine Curella, and Lik Chee Sim; (2006) Nicholas Copeli, Kunchok Dolma, and Catherine Zinnel; (2007) Michaela Chase, Talia Krevsky, Valerio Russo, and Long Tran; and (2008) Joseph Eastman and Michael Young; (2009) Tyler Alterman, Brian Kateman, Ilya Ryvin, Bing Shao, Jocelyne Jeannot, and Sushanta Singha; and (2010) Patrycja Ajdukiewicz and Renelle Lawrence.