St. John’s Announces 2020 Watson Fellows

Watson Fellows Photo
May 13, 2020

Two St. John’s University sophomores are recipients of the 2020 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, a highly selective, global internship program that draws intense competition from among 12 partner colleges and universities in New York City.

Ethan A. Burrell and Kharan Pierce bring to 13 the number of St. John’s students to be named Watson Fellows over the past nine years. They will be part of the elite fellowship’s class of 2022, which is the 21st class of Watson Fellows.

St. John’s now ranks second among the partner institutions on the total number of Watson Fellows accepted into the program since University scholars began to vie for it in 2011.

“I am incredibly proud of our two new Watson Fellows. They join a cadre of other Watson awardees here at the University who have distinguished themselves for their leadership, integrity, and a commitment to personal, professional, and cultural development,” said André McKenzie, Ed.D., Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Faculty Development.

Funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the fellowship provides 15 outstanding undergraduates with three years of personal, professional, and cultural immersions in the United States and around the globe. The foundation helps each fellow secure paid internships that are the core of the program and which take place at leading organizations over three successive summers. The first internship must occur in New York City; the second one can be located anywhere in the United States, and the third one must be based overseas. The fellowship’s comprehensive programming also includes a cohort of supportive peers and ongoing mentorship.

The Watson Foundation is currently working to match all of the new fellows with internships, which will be conducted remotely this summer because of the pandemic.

Ethan, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Government and Politics at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is considering a career in politics. “I always wanted to be a congressman or senator. I love public policy because I believe that is the best way to make change for people.”

“I also believe the Watson Fellowship gives you many opportunities to pursue different career paths, and it really puts you on a great road to success,” said Ethan, who is also thinking about joining the Peace Corps after he graduates from St. John’s. A performing artist who is a member of the St. John’s Voices of Victory gospel choir, Ethan hopes to expand his passion for theater by writing a play during his time as a Watson fellow.

In addition to Voices of Victory, Ethan is part of the St. John’s University Honors Program and is Freshman Representative in Student Government, Inc. He was recently elected to serve as Sophomore Senator beginning in the fall.  

“Ethan works to build community wherever he finds himself. As a J.K. Watson fellow, Ethan will work to make change wherever he sees it is required,” said Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, History; Founding Director, Africana Studies Program; and the University’s advisor for the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship.

“His ability to solve problems collaboratively makes him a compassionate and effective leader. Ethan picks up the torch for our distinguished graduating Watsons at St. John’s, and we cannot think of anyone better for the opportunity.”

Kharan, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Environmental Studies at St. John’s College, said of her future goals: “I see my career path leading toward work with international environmental policy that benefits our natural environment, as well as the people who are living within it. If I can bridge some cultural gaps between different countries for a better plan to preserve our natural environment, I will fulfill my passion.”

“I am also considering teaching,” she said. “Specifically, AP Environmental Science, because I love it so much and want to be able to spark interest in future generations.”

Kharan is a member of the Lambda Alpha National Anthropology Honor Society, Sigma Chapter; the Student Government, Inc. Sustainability Committee; Haraya, the Pan-African Students’ Coalition; and is a Dean’s Scholarship awardee. She is a Resident Assistant in Hollis Hall.

“Kharan has the curiosity and enthusiasm to make the most of the opportunities Watson will afford her. She is driven to lift up everyone,” says Dr. Tuchscherer.

“As a J.K. Watson fellow, Kharan will not only be focused on her personal growth but will grow the cohort. She is a superb ambassador for St. John’s University.”