Two seniors named 2014-15 Watson Fellows

rob goeller

Seniors Robert (Rob) Goeller and Katherine (Kelsey) Koontz have been awarded prestigious year-long Watson Fellowships for 2014-15. They each will be awarded $28,000 for a year of travel and exploration. Sewanee had four finalists nominated this year, out of the several hundred candidates who compete for the fellowship each year on the national level. Anne (Tarver) Shimek was named an alternate.

Rob Goeller (right), of Rowayton, Conn., is an Economics major who hopes to use his experience in studying the controversial Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry and microfinance institutions to dissect the intricacies of soccer refereeing. A referee himself since middle school, his year studying soccer refereeing will take him to three World Cup venues, FIFA's headquarters, and the birthplace of the modern game (Brazil, South Africa, Qatar, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). Goeller will study bigotry, high stress situations, and the evolution of soccer to determine how refereeing differs by country. At Sewanee, he plays rugby and is active in the business club.

Kelsey Koontz (left), from Baltimore, Md., is co-director of the Women’s Center and a member of national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. A Politics major and Women's & Gender Studies minor, she plans to spend her Watson year exploring organizations in Belize, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philipines that provide care and advocacy for women who have been silenced by violence, stigma or discrimination. Koontz is particularly interested in groups that balance the tension between respecting women's personal boundaries and shattering societal barriers.

“This is a wonderful showing by our nominees and reflects both their accomplishment and promise,” said Stephen Miller, Sewanee’s liaison to the Watson Foundation. “Congratulations to Rob and Kelsey, and to the Watson committee as well, who invests considerable time on behalf of Sewanee students.” In addition to Miller, the Watson committee is composed of John Gatta, Martin Knoll, Pradip Malde, Deborah McGrath, Stephen Raulston, Lauryl Tucker, and Mae Wallace.

This year there were 43 Fellows nationwide. Those winners hail from 29 of the 40 Watson colleges, with 16 schools having one Fellow, 11 (including Sewanee) two, and two schools with three. Eleven of the Watson institutions had no winners for 2014-15.

Students interested in applying for a Watson Fellowship in the future can learn more here.

More on the Watson Fellowships:
Since 1985, when Sewanee was selected as one of the Watson institutions, the University has produced 45 fellowship recipients, including DeAndré Espree-Conaway, C’13, who was awarded a fellowship last year.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship offers college graduates of "unusual promise" a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel—in international settings new to them—to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community. Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects.

The 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.

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