Kate Cummings, a senior student from Asheville, NC, at Sewanee: The University of the South, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2004-2005. Cummings is one of 50 students from across the United States to be awarded a Watson Fellowship this year. A studio art major, Cummings project is titled “Compassionate Service as Religious Practice,” and she will spend the year following her graduation by photographing “engaged Buddhism” in Vietnam, India and New Zealand. According to Beverly Larson, executive director of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Cummings’ award “is an extraordinary accomplishment, given the strength of this year’s fellowship pool. Nearly 1,000 students from 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities applied for this year’s awards. From the pool, participating institutions nominated 184 students, who then competed on a national level. Each fellow receives $22,000 for a year of travel and study. “We look for people with the passion and creativity to find solutions, work effectively with people and generally weather the bad days on the road while treasuring the glorious ones,” said Larson, a former Watson fellow herself. “The awards are long-term bets on people likely to lead or innovate, giving them unusual flexibility to set and pursue their own global agendas.” The collective itineraries of this year’s fellows, following graduation, include more than 80 countries on six continents. The topics of investigation range from music and sports to the social and physical sciences, including Khmer music, marathon mindsets, the impact of hip-hop activists, and attitudes about antibiotic use. The Thomas J. Watson Foundation inaugurated the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 1968 to give college graduates of unusual promise the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad following their graduation. It was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM Corporation, and his wife, Jeanette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs. The Watson Foundation regards its investment in people as an effective contribution to the global community. The year of travel provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations and abilities and develop a more informed sense of international concern. More than 2,200 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey in the history of the program. They have gone on to become college presidents and professors, CEOs of major corporations, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, and researchers.