Two John Jay College sophomores and one freshman have been chosen as part of the 2014 class of the Jeannette K. Watson Fellows, the prestigious educational-opportunity initiative sponsored by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.
The Watson Fellowships provide outstanding undergraduates at 12 New York City colleges the opportunity for paid internships for three successive summers — two in New York City and a third internship spent overseas.
Joining the fellowship program this year are Monnero Guervil, a sophomore majoring in Criminal Justice (BA); Stacy Morales, a sophomore majoring in International Criminal Justice, and Vincent Palmeri, a freshman majoring in Law and Society. They are among 15 Fellows chosen this year, and they represent the largest single cohort from any of the nine schools represented.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten three students selected,” said Elizabeth Broccoli, John Jay’s Pre Law and Fellowship Programs Coordinator. “It’s a testament to how awesome our students are.”
Chris Kasabach, Director of the Watson Foundation, added: “This year’s Fellows are a cohort of remarkable students whose interests and skills are as varied as their personal histories. We look forward to shaping a three-year immersion for each Fellow that propels lifetime of personal and professional fulfillment.”
In addition to internships, Watson Fellows participate in rich pre-professional and cultural programming that exposes them to disciplines and national thought-leaders that greatly expand their definition of self, success and career choice. Combined with close mentoring, Watson Fellows compete successfully for graduate school, national and international fellowships and competitive professional positions.
Guervil, a resident of St. Albans, Queens, came to John Jay from Thomas Edison Career and Technical High School. “John Jay’s ‘Educating for Justice’ theme attracted me,” he said. “Growing up, I always wanted to be a hero. My focus has shifted a bit, but basically I came to the College for its public service career options.”
He learned of the Watson Fellowships through the John Jay Honors Program. “I saw it as an opportunity that was now or never,” said Guervil. “I chose to apply, worked my hardest and it paid off.”
John Jay’s other sophomore representative, Morales, is a Bronx resident and graduate of Frederick Douglas Academy. She was drawn to the College by her interest in international studies. “That, plus an interest in law I developed, added up to John Jay,” she said, adding that she hopes to go on to law school, and possibly work with the United Nations or on women’s issues.
She has been running a fundraising drive on campus, through the Office of Community Outreach and Service Learning, called “Give a Little Hope,” whose intended beneficiaries are teenage homeless mothers.
Morales and freshman Watson Fellow Vincent Palmeri were counseled throughout the application process by Professor Richard Ocejo of the Sociology Department, one the Faculty Fellowships Advisors in the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities. “His mentoring made a real difference,” said Broccoli.
Palmeri, who hails from Northport High School on Long Island, learned of the Watson Fellowships through an e-mail from Broccoli. “It sounded like a great opportunity, especially since I’m leaning toward a career in criminal defense law,” he said. He is a Pre Law Institute participant, which he said “is really helping me. I’m always busy, and always on my feet.”
Vielka Holness, Director of PLI and the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities, encouraged John Jay students to contact her office to learn how they might compete for the 2015 Watson Fellowships. The office is located in Room 1100 North Hall; telephone 646.557.4804. Students can also visit the JohnJayOFSO page on Facebook.
The Thomas J. Watson Foundation, founded in 1961, is named in honor of the founder of IBM, and supports programs that provide transformational exposure and experiential learning opportunities to some of the nation’s most promising undergraduate students each year.