Watson Fellows: Two students ‘of unusual promise’


By Carina Sorrentino

Union seniors Joshua Anderson ‘13 and Shilpa Darivemula  ‘13 will be embarking on unique academic endeavors after graduation as recipients of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.  The Fellowship grants $25,000 to seniors “of unusual promise” to pursue their individually synthesized topics of study for a year.

Anderson and Darivemula have incorporated their course of education at Union with special interests that they will document as they travel.

For Anderson, a mechanical engineering major, his project is entitled “Holistic Self-sufficiency: Exploring the Intersection of Community, Innovation and Self.” A  double Spanish and biology major, Darivemula’s focus will be “Of Medicine and Mudras: Exploring Healing through Traditional Dance Cultures.”

For Anderson, his unusual upbringing working on his parents’ self-sufficient farm in Maine and being home-schooled was primary motivation for studying self-sufficiency throughout other countries. “You learn to spend time by yourself,” stated Anderson, “you become interested in hobbies that are independent.”

This includes biking, gardening, running and even carpentry, which prompted him to build his own cabin at one point.  Although not the typical mainstream way of growing up, this has given Anderson the unusual promise that the Watson Fellowship seeks to discover in students.

Darivemula has studied the Indian dance art Kuchipudi since her youth.  As she entered college, medicine became her primary interest of future study, but while traveling abroad in Chile she witnessed cultures that used dance as a form of healing.

Never really expecting these two important components of her life to intersect, Darivemula saw it as the perfect opportunity to research further.  To her, dance therapy “gives you a space to think about what causes stress and alleviates it.”  This kind of therapy is often overlooked by Western medicine, but Darivemula sees the importance of it as an act of mind and body centering and stated that her project “is a different way of interpreting tradition into what the modern world is doing.”

Both have strong interest in seeing how their respective practices build a sense of community across cultures. Upon inquiring about what the students hoped to gain after their year of travels they were optimistic, but not particularly searching for something specific to return with.

Anderson hopes to use this research to incorporate it with modern architecture to “positively influence the standard of living that most people have.”

Darivemula seeks to open her mind to “think about people differently and think about problems and adjustment in different ways.”

The two have a genuine curiosity for their topics and the means to open the doors for new and relevant fields of study, making the Union community proud to have educated two exceptionally innovative people.




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