Lisbeth DaBramo ’15 and Erika Marte ’15 Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowships
Lisbeth “Liz” DaBramo and Erika Marte, both candidates for May graduation from Hamilton, will travel the world as Thomas J. Watson Fellows for 2015-16. DaBramo’s project is titled “Water Ways: An Exploration of Water Sustainability Strategies,” and Marte’s is “The Faces and Functions of Educational Volunteerism in the 21st Century.”
Twenty-eight Hamilton students have received Watson Fellowships over the past 17 consecutive years.
The two Hamilton seniors were among 50 national winners of the Fellowships. From nearly 700 candidates, 150 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level. Each fellow receives $30,000 for a year of travel and exploration outside the U.S.
In her proposal summary DaBramo, a chemistry major, wrote:
“Water is essential to human existence, but there is a ‘world water crises’ today as global availability is predicted to drop sharply. I want to explore the responses to declining water quality and strategies for a sustainable water supply. Each country I visit faces distinct water concerns: I will study arsenic contamination in Bangladesh, water recycling in Singapore, water optimization in arid Jordan, and community-led drinking water infrastructure in Bolivia. I hope to gain an understanding of water security strategies through involvement in hands-on projects and spending time with local residents and water experts.
“I propose to examine the responses to declining or poor water quality and the strategies for a sustainable water supply in four distinct countries and cultures. I want to understand: The root causes for poor water quality and quantity; How the water issues are affecting the country and its citizens; and what steps are being taken (and by whom) in response to these challenges.
“Although the types of challenges vary between countries, each country I will visit – Bangladesh, Singapore, Jordan, and Bolivia – is challenged with poor or declining water quality and is in the process of adapting distinct techniques for a sustainable water supply. This combination of countries is diverse in water issues, geography, culture, and thus strategies.
“I will explore the local water issues and current and future strategies for tackling these significant problems by spending time with water-focused NGOs, government officials, homestay families, residents, farmers, business owners and environmentalists. I will participate in projects with nonprofit organizations that build and improve water infrastructure in rural and urban communities and attend events and conferences addressing water sustainability. Also, I look forward to adapting to local drinking and washing practices in the home and community and engaging with locals in their everyday routines. In each country, I will look at responses to water insecurity in the form of monitoring, infrastructure, education, conservation, use and a range of other approaches. “
A Dean’s List student every semester at Hamilton, DaBramo is a Levitt Scholar, a recipient of a 2013 POLYED Undergraduate Award, and an 1812 Leadership Circle Scholar in recognition of academic achievement.
DaBramo conducted water research in Northern India as an independent field project titled Situating Gender in Water-Related Issues: Regional Perspective from Jaipur and Varanasi from August 2013 to January 2014. She organized and conducted interviews with local NGOs, professors and community leaders about women’s role in the water conservation movement in Jaipur and the Clean Ganga Campaign in Varanasi.
She also served as an intern for Greenbrier River Watershed Association, Lewisburg, W.Va., from June to August 2014. In that position she advocated for clean water by consulting clean water authorities, writing newspaper articles, and developing educational brochures and posters; communicated with other environmental groups on common-interest projects; and monitored water quality.
At Hamilton DaBramo has served as a residential advisor and now head residential advisor since 2012. She is a learning assistant/tutor for the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center and a teaching assistant in the Chemistry Department. She has been involved with various community service projects including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) as a tax preparer, Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders (Project Shine) as an English language tutor; and a trip leader for the Hamilton Outing Club.
She is the daughter of Michael and Miriam DaBramo of Geneseo, N.Y., and is a graduate of Geneseo Central School.
Marte, a comparative literature major, wrote in her Watson proposal, “Given my own experiences as a beneficiary of many educationally focused volunteer programs, my goal is to explore the faces and functions of 21st century volunteerism within the domain of education. In particular, I want to understand how the social impact of various externally organized volunteer initiatives compares to that of those that spring up within local communities. I plan to focus on the relationship between those who volunteer and those who are the objects of their efforts.
“Juxtaposing international volunteer organizations and grassroots organizations run by members of the local community, I am interested in a comprehensive understanding of educational service in a cultural context.
“Given the growth of foreign volunteerism and the development of community based education programs, I want to develop a comprehensive and culturally sensitive understanding of their nature and impact.
“This project will explore five countries—Thailand, India, Tanzania, Brazil and Spain—and the dynamics of local and international volunteerism within each. Starting with grassroots organizations and then reaching out to foreign-based ones, my goal is to develop an understanding of local needs and conditions. In each country I will spend time with students and families receiving educational services. I will work alongside volunteer program directors, volunteers, outreach coordinators, teachers and board members. I will attend community meetings, school functions and events. I want to experience everything that one involved in educational volunteerism can.”
Marte was a recipient of the McKinney Prize in Hamilton’s recent Public Speaking Competition with the topic “I Am Afraid of Being a Woman.” In the competition, a prize is awarded to one student from each class for a 5-8 minute persuasive speech that is socially relevant and of interest to the extended Hamilton College community.
Marte studied in Beijing through Associated Colleges of China in summer 2013 and participated in Hamilton’s New York City Program, “Labor, Immigration, and Reform in New York City’s History” that fall. She interned with Human Rights First while on the New York Program.
She received a Gates Millennium Scholarship, awarded for academic excellence, community service and leadership, a Los Padres Foundation grant, awarded for academic excellence and passion to pursue post-secondary education and is a Higher Education Opportunity Program (H.E.O.P) student.
For three summers Marte was programming director intern and volunteer with New York City Urban Debate League, in Manhattan, where she directed summer debate camps for elementary, middle school and high school students and taught students rhetorical skills to help them advance to New York State Debate Finals.
As a Levitt Center Fellow in 2012 she conducted research on marginalized groups in Utica through community service efforts at the Johnson Park Center.
At Hamilton Marte is a member and cultural chair of La Vanguardia; volunteer tutor with Thea Bowman in Utica, NY; member and officer of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority Inc.; member of Hamilton Action Volunteer Outreach Coalition; volunteer with the Johnson Park Center in Utica; and a member of the Black and Latino Student Union. She is a technology assistant with Audio Visual Services, a student assistant in the History Department and a lab monitor for the Academic Center for Excellence.
She is the daughter of Yazmin Carrasco and Ramon Marte of the Bronx and is a graduate of Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice.