Amy Harff ’21, Jiin Jeong ’21, and Liam Prum ’21 have been named Watson Fellows, with each receiving a $36,000 stipend to pursue a “year of independent, purposeful exploration” abroad. The prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is awarded to graduating seniors nominated by one of 41 partner institutions.
Phi Beta Kappa honoree Amy Harff’s project is Mother Earth’s Artists: Inspiring Environmental Action on Islands. The environmental studies and studio art major will visit the North Island of New Zealand, the Seychelles, Taiwan, Marshall Islands, and Svalbard — islands that she says have thriving art communities focused on creating work and raising awareness about climate change and environmental issues.
Majors: Environmental studies, studio art
Hometown: Providence, R.I.
High school: The Wheeler School
“I will learn from artists, art collective members, community leaders, government officials and environmental organizations to study the role of art as a means for local change,” Harff said. “As a female artist, and due to the underrepresentation of female and indigenous artists, I am particularly interested in [hearing] their voices, actions, and concerns as climate change and pollution threaten their homeland. My project is about engaging with artists who exist on the fringes of the art world, due to their physical location, gender, race, and ethnicity, yet are driven by the common goal of fighting for climate justice.”
A Dean’s List student, Harff has served the Hamilton community as an Outing Club and Orientation Trip leader. She has received a Smallen Grant for Creativity, a Levitt Research Grant, and a Kirkland Grant. She has studied off campus in Florence, Italy, and in Hamilton’s program in the Adirondacks.
Jiin Jeong majors in computer science and economics. Her project, Recoding Literacy: Exploring the Computer Science Education Boom, will take her to Kenya, Singapore, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Majors: Computer science, economics
Hometown: Seongnam, Korea
High school: Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies, Yongin, Korea
Jeong acknowledges that recent technological developments have led to an increase in computer science (CS) education worldwide. And while she believes that developing an understanding of CS languages may soon be another measure of literacy, there remain barriers to CS education for underrepresented communities.
“In my Watson project, I will explore the CS education boom and its audience, purpose, content, methodology, and social impact,” Jeong said. “Spending time with educators and students in traditional and nontraditional settings, computer programmers, policymakers, and members of underrepresented communities, I will look at creative approaches to CS education and its challenges and opportunities to holistically understand what digital inclusion entails.”
A member and past president of Hamilton’s Coding Team, Jeong is a computer science teaching assistant and LITS academic digital initiatives intern. She participates in orchestra, string quartet, Student Assembly, All Beliefs Union, and Multicultural Peer Mentoring. Jeong also volunteers providing tax preparation assistance for local low-income families.
Liam Prum, a government major and environmental studies minor, will undertake a project titled Food Sovereignty, Traditions, and the Pressure to Adapt. He plans to travel to Ethiopia, India, Guatemala, and Peru where, he said, farmers are “threading a needle between tradition and commercialization to make a living from the soil.”
Hometown: New Haven, Conn.
High school: Hopkins School
“Farming communities throughout the world are navigating the intersecting challenges of climate shocks, corporate control of food production, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and globalization,” Prum said. “I will visit farming communities worldwide to understand why [they] blend agricultural traditions and modernized practices. This experience will stretch my mind as I explore foreign cultures and talk to a variety of stakeholders in vastly different countries and cultures. I’m ready to learn and have my understanding of food ways turned upside down.”
Prum is president and past treasurer of Slow Food Hamilton and a barista at Café Opus. He was a government relations intern for the World Wildlife Fund in 2019 and studied through Arcadia University’s program in the United Kingdom in 2016.