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Erika Marte ’15 Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowship


Erika Marte '15
Erika Marte '15

Erika Marte ’15 will travel the world as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow for 2015-16. Marte’s project is titled “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. Marte was one of 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.

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. (See the video of her speech)

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.

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