Hamilton College Senior awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Mark J. Siedner, a senior at Hamilton College, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2000-2001. 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 and travel. This year 60 seniors were selected from 50 of America's top liberal arts colleges.

A candidate for May graduation, Siedner has chosen a project entitled "A Matter of Life and Death: Societal Influences on the International Fight Against HIV." He will visit Australia, Portugal, Senegal, Ukraine and Zimbabwe for his research, where he will study and document their strategies and levels of success in the fight against the spread of HIV. Siedner hopes to discover and document the differences across these nations, specifically in regard to government intervention, organization activity, cultural behavior, religious influence and education levels. By gathering this information from countries that have varied greatly in their ability to control the spread of HIV and AIDS, he hopes to produce a valuable record of societal influences on the international fight against HIV.

A dual major in biochemistry and economics at Hamilton, Siedner is employed at Hamilton College's office of communications and development in information services, where he works on the Help Desk. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa; a tutor of biology, chemistry and economics; and a volunteer coordinator for the Student Association of the American Chemical Society. Last summer, Siedner worked as an immunology laboratory assistant at Rockefeller Medical University in Manhattan and as a medical volunteer at Cornell N.Y. Hospital and Presbyterian Homeless Clinic. He is a 1996 graduate of Oakwood High School, where he was senior class president. He is the son of Yale Siedner of Dayton, Ohio, and Laurie Pines of San Jose, Calif.

Watson Fellows are chosen in a two-step process that requires nomination from a participating college, followed by a national competition. This year more than 1,000 students applied to the first round of the selection.

The Watson Fellowship Program was begun 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 concern.

Hamilton College is a highly selective residential college offering a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. Students are challenged to think, write and speak critically, creatively and analytically, so that upon graduation, they may distinguish themselves in both their professions and their communities.

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