Katherine Yenna, a first-year student of the Macaulay Honors College, has been selected for the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, a highly competitive program that provides students with mentoring, professional development, three paid summer internships, and a Discovery Fund to further explore their interests.
Katherine is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with an interest in studying diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA). With the goal of working toward a career in foreign service, she has been studying Arabic language and hopes to further develop her fluency and experience by interning abroad in the region through the JK Watson Fellowship. Fellows can partake in opportunities through the Watson Foundation’s many partner internship sites, including city government offices, museums, universities, media publications, private-sector businesses, and non-profit organizations, domestically and abroad. Fellows may also self-initiate their own internship experience at an organization of their choosing with guidance from the Fellowship’s mentors.
To apply, students must be in their freshman or sophomore year at one of 12 partner schools, which include the senior campuses of CUNY, Marymount Manhattan College, Long Island University (Brooklyn campus), St. John’s University, and Pace University. Each participating school nominates four students, who then go on to interview with program staff at the Watson Foundation. Out of this pool of 48 students, 15 Fellows are selected each year. The program seeks qualities in applicants such as openness to new experiences, desire for personal growth, leadership, and the ambition to achieve their highest potential. Fellows are also encouraged to explore other interests that can serve to complement their overall goals.
Michele Callahan, Fellowship and Scholarship Advisor at CSI, is excited for Katherine and the prospects the fellowship will offer her, stating, “The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship provides students with opportunities that are truly life-changing and enhances their trajectories immensely.”
In addition to her career-related pursuits in international relations, Katherine has a deep interest in film, and aspires to study cinema and create documentaries to help raise awareness of issues affecting marginalized communities. She enjoys watching films from around the world as a means of exploring different cultures and has expressed interest in traveling to various countries and working with NGOs to engage in volunteerism, community development, and human rights advocacy. Through the JK Watson Fellowship, Katherine hopes to work with organizations such as the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC on policy to address issues caused by climate change, as well as OutRight Action International to advocate for LGBTQ rights. She looks forward to joining a cohort of likeminded peers through the fellowship and working with them to share ideas and collaborate on projects. “It is an honor to be selected as a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow. The career opportunities this will provide me with are unparalleled and I am very proud to represent CSI through this fellowship.” said Katherine.
During her years at Brooklyn Technical High School, Katherine participated extensively in leadership and community-engagement activities, including volunteering for Hunger Free America to increase access to food for New Yorkers, as well as the U.S.-Africa Children’s Fellowship, where she organized a project to collect more than 1,000 books for children in need. As a Cabinet Board Member of her high school’s Key Club, she oversaw initiatives in which students provided community service to address issues with homelessness, the housing crisis, and child equity. She has additionally devoted her time to volunteer in soup kitchens and work with the Thirst Project, an organization committed to providing safe, clean drinking water to communities around the world.
In only her first year in college, Katherine has already become a member of the Peace Corps Prep Program at CSI, through which she hopes to gain insight into available opportunities to volunteer abroad in underserved communities. She is also considering applying to the Peace Corps after college to gain real-world working experience in MENA and become more acquainted with the challenges faced by international communities.