Two Hamilton Seniors Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships
Hilary King and Kristofer Rios Are Among 50 National Winners
March 22, 2005
Two Hamilton College seniors have been awarded prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for 2005-2006. Hilary King of Ashland, Ore., and Kristofer Rios of New York, N.Y., were notified that their project proposals were among 50 national winners of the Fellowships. Nearly 1,000 students from up to 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities apply for these awards each year. This year 184 students competed on the national level after their institutions nominated them in the autumn.
In a national competition each year, the Watson Foundation selects and provides funds for graduating seniors from America's leading liberal arts institutions to embark on a year of self-directed, independent study while traveling outside the United States after their graduation.
Hilary King's project is titled "Grounds for Change: Coffee and Cooperatives." She will visit Guatemala, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Tanzania and study the production of coffee in cooperatives in these countries. King will examine how participation in cooperatives enables grassroots community development among coffee producers. She will research the mobilization of farmers in cooperatives to determine the efficacy of organizational efforts to better farmers' lives, and look at the role of Fair Trade as a variable that may or may not foster development in communities of small-scale coffee producers. Working directly with small-scale coffee farmers, she hopes to learn the particulars of coffee cultivation. King will begin her project in Guatemala, then move to Nicaragua where she will learn the basics of production and organization in Latin America. Then she will travel to Ethiopia and Tanzania. She will catalogue the similarities and differences in production, marketing and social programs.
King is co-chair of the Womyn's Center; student director of the Intercultural Womyn's Empowerment Series; co-director of Think Tank and a founding member of the Coalition for Social Justice. She is a Spanish tutor and was recently elected to Phi Beta Kappa. King works as a barista in Café Opus.
Rios' project is "In Search of the Perfect Beat: Rare International Funk Music." He will research the distinct cultural inflection in funk music that was popular during the 1970s with the intent of cultivating and preserving this musical heritage. Although funk enjoyed a relatively brief span of popularity, its impact on world music has been far-reaching and has lasted for many decades. Rios will travel to London; Accra, Ghana; and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to meet the musicians, DJs and music historians in an effort to appreciate the historical and social contexts in which this music thrived. Rios says he chose those places to visit because "These are the citites where musicians, producers and collectors go to seek out the rarest of international funk, in search of the perfect beat." He plans to write articles during his travels and submit them for publication in Waxpoetics, a publication dedicated to readers in the record collecting and DJ community.
Rios is president and founding member of the Hamilton College chapter of the Brothers Organization, designed to recognize the diversity of ideas of men of color and to promote academic excellence and social leadership. He has served on the Voice of Color lecture series executive committee and is currently committee chair. He is also a founding member of the Hamilton chapter of the Coalition for Social Justice. Rios is a member of Pentagon, a prestigious honor society for seniors. He works as a student technology consultant for ITS, is a teaching assistant in College 130: Coming of Age in America, and is a cashier at Café Opus.
The Watson Fellowship Program was created in 1968 by the children of
Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeannette K.
Watson, to honor their parents' long-standing interest in education and
world affairs. The program identifies prospective leaders and allows
them to develop their independence and to become world citizens. Watson
Fellows each receive $22,000 for their year of travel and study. The
year of travel provides Fellows an unusual opportunity to take stock of
themselves, test their aspirations and abilities, pursue their own
in-depth study and develop a more informed sense of international