Berea College Student Wins Prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Berea student Moondil Jahan won the 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000. Berea is the only school in Kentucky from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates. As one of 152 finalists who competed at the national level, Jahan receive one of the 40 fellowships offered.

Moondil Jahan

Moondil Jahan

For her fellowship, Jahan will engage in purposeful exploration – traveling the world for 365 days – after she graduates in May. Her project, “Journey through Rhythmaculture: Grieving and Rejoicing through Indigenous Drumming and Dancing,” will take her through Germany, Morocco, Spain, Peru, Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands.

Jahan said, “I have chosen to explore these art forms across linguistic, cultural and geographic borders.” Delving into the rich and ancient tradition of drumming and dancing, Jahan will gain first-hand exposure to the world’s most remarkable performers while learning the cathartic powers of rhythmaculture at a global level.

Jahan says this journey will be more than just exploring countries and cultures.  She explains, “My Watson project entails a journey both inwards and outwards, concurrently towards myself and others. I am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor.”

Berea College is the only school in the Commonwealth from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates.

The Watson pool continues to be extremely competitive. This year’s class of Watson Fellows comes from 21 states and eight countries. They exhibit a broad range of academic specialty, socio-economic background, and life experience. The 48th Class of Watson Fellows, will traverse 67 countries exploring topics ranging from climate change to incarceration; from technology empowerment to forced migration; from car culture to ethnoentomology.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, named after the founder of International Business Machines (IBM), offers graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” the opportunity to engage in one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Its goals are to enhance the capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster humane and effective participation in the world community—in short, to develop future leaders who are self-reflective, well-informed, mindful citizens of the world. Each year, about 40 students receive $30,000 each.

For more information about the Francis and Louise Hutchins Center for International Education at Berea College, see:

To read Moondil Jahan’s project summary and those of the other 39 finalists, see:

Categories: News, People, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Center for International Education, Dance, Moondil Jahan, Students, Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.