Three Summers of Exploration and Service: The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

Jun 06, 2018
Junior Duplessis, a current J.K. Watson Fellow

The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship provides various experiences throughout its three-year program to undergraduates of New York City. For three consecutive summers, fellows have assignments that build on those from previous years. For the first year, fellows work in New York City. The next assignment has a flexible location, and the final year must be abroad. The program encourages fellows to cultivate a range of experiences in many different sectors – nonprofits, government, and private enterprise among them – with the goal of helping fellows learn how they can make a difference in our world.

We talked to Junior Duplessis, a current Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, to learn more about the fellowship and get some tips for preparing an application!

1. What inspired you to apply for the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship?

When I found out about the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, I was a first-semester sophomore at the City College of New York. I had already started to think about summer internships because the previous summer, I wasn’t able to secure one and spent the summer working at my regular job. This fellowship offers three paid summer internships, so I knew I had to try my best to get because it would be a tremendous help for me financially. Although the application seemed complicated at first, my desire to be a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow was greater!

2. What are the benefits of the fellowship?

The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship provides three summer internships to their fellows. The first is with one of their partners in New York City, and lasts for a minimum of eight weeks. The second one is flexible — it can be in New York or anywhere else in the world (within certain State Department-based travel guidelines) for a minimum of 10 weeks. The last one has to be abroad and also lasts a minimum of 10 weeks. Fellows are compensated for each internship: $5,500, $6,500, and $7,000, respectively. During the fall and spring semesters, we attend seminars to help us grow professionally, culturally, and personally. Fellows also get to attend many cultural events in the city during their first internship. In addition to these things, fellows receive the constant support of everyone at Watson and get to form lifelong bonds amongst themselves. I am grateful for the constant support that I have received from Watson, especially through the process of selecting and confirming an internship for this summer.

Last summer as a Communications Intern, I worked at Transitcenter, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving transit systems around the country. I had the opportunity to explore transit systems in the country and around the world through research. I also got to take a deeper look into transit statistics to figure out the demographics in the United States that use transit the most and the ones that are underserved. This summer, I will be heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work as a Scholar Development Intern at SOLS 24/7, a Malaysian organization focusing on ending poverty through education and entrepreneurship. In this position, I will be planning and delivering training sessions internally and externally in addition to designing educational materials for the organization’s projects.

Junior enjoying a hike with other fellows during a J.K. Watson cultural event

3. What tips would you give others applying to the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship?

Past and current fellows are all very diverse in their interests and experiences. However, it is clear that all of the fellows are ambitious and driven individuals who seek to learn more about themselves and the world. They are open to new experiences and are willing to consider new perspectives. Students who are interested in applying should focus on displaying their desire to learn, their open-mindedness, and their ability to get along with others by drawing on their past experiences and future aspirations.

Junior Duplessis is a junior at the City College of New York majoring in International Studies with a French minor. He is interested in politics, languages, education, sustainable development, and social justice. He is passionate about local/ community-based work because he believes it can bring real and lasting change. In addition to gaining more hands-on experience and going to graduate school, in the future he would like to go back to his home country of Haiti to help his community and to work with his compatriots to bring about sustainable change.

Interested in applying? Bookmark the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship your ProFellow account.

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