Watson Scholars Announced

The Watson scholars were announced last week and this year Middlebury seniors Austin Davis and Sarah Midzik are both recipients of the prestigious grant.  The Watson Fellowship is a year long $25,000 grant for independent study outside the United States.  The website says the Watson is intended to “enhance [the recipients’] capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.”

Davis’ project is titled:  “Dawa” But Not Out: Investigating Arab Perceptions of Disability.  Here is his abstract from the website.

I will travel to Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Arab communities in London to observe and interact with a variety of Arab people with disabilities as well as the people who help them manage their disability. I aim to gain a better individual understanding of the lived experience of disability in different Arab contexts. As someone who underwent an emergency bilateral above-knee amputation in Egypt as well as a long-time Arabic student, this project will be rewarding on a number of levels.

Midzik’s project is titled: “Darwin in the Desert: Explorations of Evolution Across the Middle East.”  Her abstract:

I propose to spend a year traveling across the Middle East and North Africa in an attempt to better understand how individuals of different religious traditions grapple with Darwinian evolution. I will explore whether the shared conceptual challenge that evolution poses to people of faith can be a point of overlapping discussion, and the possibility for conversations about evolution to be integrated into interfaith dialogue and initiatives. I also will examine my own identity as both a rational scientist and a spiritual believer, and the tension between the two.

Congratulations to both seniors!  Check out all of the recipients here.




I spent today’s gray afternoon in Burlington at the Vermont 3.0 TechJam, a free (thankfully indoor) career fair.  I went to follow up on Michael’s post promoting the event earlier this week — and to allay some of my own senior-year tension about my future.


A full weekend of events (photos by Caroline Grego '11).


TechJam comes but once a year, and it started on Friday and ended today, so I won’t try to “review” it.  Here are some impressions that stuck:

Average age.  I’d expected most of my fellow TechJam hopefuls to be about 23; the real age was much older.  The picture might have been different during Friday’s special student session, but most exhibitors I talked to saw college students as a significant but not overwhelming section of their audience.  Inside the Middlebury bubble, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of people in the world who aren’t college students.  TechJam provided a gentle introduction to the real world: this is the workforce, and we are adults competing with adults now.  The numerous job-seekers who brought along their children were pointed reminders of the different kind of competitive atmosphere we enter after we graduate from college.

Midd alumni.  Getting less metaphorical, TechJam was surprisingly valuable for the density of Middlebury contacts  involved.  My experience with this was anecdotal, but still: at a number of booths, as well as at the registration desk for the ‘Jam, the mention of Middlbury College got responses like “we have a few employees/editors/etc. who are alums” or even “I went there!” So even though the event is in Burlington and features companies that don’t necessarily work in or near Midd, you won’t be among strangers.

Smile? The debate over whether the workplace should be “fun” was alive and well at TechJam. A major sponsor of the event, Dealer.com, featured a booth sprinkled with free candy and played a video of their team lip-syncing “I Gotta Feeling”.  Other companies promoted themselves in more restrained ways. Make ’em laugh or down with fun?

Swag. OK, it’s superficial, but a lot of free stuff was being given away. I got candy, an essential VPR bumper sticker, a pen or two, and entries into raffles for an iPod and iPad.

What it is. A great event if you’re interested in anything technology-oriented.  Best-fit majors might be Computer Science, Math, any of the hard sciences, Econ, Geography — with good communication skills.  Foreign languages don’t help much here.

That’s the story. Here are the pictures: