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Niki Tomita '12 Earns Prestigious Watson Fellowship

March 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Niki Tomita, women's soccer headshotNORTHFIELD, Minn. –– Women’s soccer player Niki Tomita (Sr./Redwood City, Calif.) is one of two Carleton College seniors to earn a prestigious fellowship from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. She will be using her $25,000 award to cover costs during a 12-month period that will take her to Namibia, Thailand, Morocco, and Ecuador.

Gracie Ogilby (Belmont, Mass.) was the other Carleton recipient, giving the College 19 Watson Fellowship award winners over the last 14 years. The fellowships, awarded to college seniors to pursue their unique passion or dream for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States, are picked from select private liberal arts colleges and universities. This year, from over 700 candidates, 147 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which the 40 fellows were selected.

The MIAC women’s soccer player-of-the-year in 2010, Tomita has been a volunteer with Special Olympics for most of her life.

“Shame, anger, pride, or joy? I will use the Special Olympics as a gateway into understanding varying perceptions of intellectual disabilities around the world,” Tomita said. “I will take advantage of my language and coaching experience to meet the athletes and their families so that I can better appreciate the cultural climates in Thailand, Namibia, Morocco, and Ecuador.” Her project is titled “Following the Torch: Around the World with Special Olympics.”

Tomita is a political science and international relations major.

Niki Tomita, Women's Soccer ActionThe Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The Watson Foundation regards its investment in people as an effective long-term contribution to the global community.

In the history of the program, over 2,700 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey. A Watson Year provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations and abilities and develop a more informed sense of international concern. Fellows have gone on to become college presidents and professors, CEOs of major corporations, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, journalists, innovators and researchers across a wide range of sciences and engineering disciplines.

To see the winners and their project descriptions, visit the Watson Fellowship website.