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CCNY duo wins Jeannette Watson fellowships

Luz Maria Cespedes and Ana Maria Oliynyk are The City College of New York’s 2020 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship recipients. They are among 15 promising undergraduates from New York City colleges and universities selected for the highly competitive awards.

Created in 1999 and supported by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the program provides fellows with three years of personal, professional and cultural immersions in the United States and abroad. Fellows are provided with NYC News annual funding of $6,000, $7,500 and $8,500, in addition to a $2,000 Discovery Fund to develop their personal, professional, and cultural potential.

Cespedes is a junior pursuing a double major in English and theatre in CCNY’s Division of Humanities and the Arts. One of the Bronx resident’s goals is to help lead a storytelling movement that is inclusive and justice driven. She’s an E-board member of the City College Young Democratic Socialist of America club and believes that political organizing is essential in the fight for equity and justice.

“My organizing experience has made me more aware of the issues faced by my community and beyond,” said Cespedes. “This has influenced my love and appreciation for the realm of political art, specifically theatre. Art is a powerful tool which when used correctly can help transform the lives of many.”

Her honors include membership in the National Honor Society and the Councilman Mark Gjonaj Service Award for commitment to community service

Oliynyk is a freshman in the Macaulay Honors College at CCNY where she’s pursuing a CUNY baccalaureate. The program allows students, working with faculty mentors, to design their own majors.  Oliynyk has crafted courses focusing on environmental studies for landscape architecture, and studio art/photography for photojournalism.

“Pursuing this path was an incredible opportunity to incorporate a number of my passions into my education to best prepare me for a diverse range of potential career paths – from the landscape architecture field to environmental photography for an organization like National Geographic,” said the Brooklyn resident. 

Oliynyk is an award-winning artist, photographer, singer/songwriter, and nature enthusiast. At Macaulay, she’s on the E-board of the Green Initiative Club as a head of the gardening committee.  

About the Watson Foundation
In 1961, the Watson Foundation was created as a charitable trust in the name of Thomas J. Watson Sr., best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind programs, and over 100 global partnerships, the Foundation provides students with personal, professional and cultural opportunities to expand their vision, develop their potential, and build their confidence and perspective do so for others.

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Press Release Distribution Service In NYC Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

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