Hannah Springhorn ’19, an astrophysics and art history double major, has been named a 2019 Watson Fellow. Through her project titled “Food Culture within Distance Running,” she will explore the relationship between food, running, and body image. She will visit training centers of numerous running communities in Ecuador, Japan, Ethiopia, and Kenya to learn from nutritionists, chefs, coaches, and athletes.
“Watson year is a gift,” Springhorn said. “I think it’s one that everyone should have, because how often do you get the chance to spend 12 months getting to know yourself as a person, and getting to know who you want to become [or] how you want to change the world?”
Since 1968 the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship has been offering graduates of 40 partner colleges a chance to globally, independently, and purposefully explore their interests. To date, Springhorn is Colby’s 65th Watson Fellow.
As a distance runner and a member of Colby’s cross country team, Springhorn was inspired by her personal experiences. “Running has been the foundation of who I am for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I love how free I feel when I run.” When she was diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, things changed. “I was forced to reimagine my relationship with my body and my sport.”
“Watson likes to talk about how they want the perfect combination between a person and the project; it is [that] this project can only be done by whoever that candidate is,” said Daniel LaFave, associate professor of economics and a member of Colby’s Watson Committee. “That really stood out to us with Hannah, that this was an issue that she had been thinking about for a really long time. … She definitely had the mark of an extremely passionate project that matched the person really well.”
Starting in August, Springhorn will join the 51st class of Watson Fellows, who originate from six countries and 18 states and who will travel to 76 countries, according to the Watson Fellowship website.
“What’s so beautiful about Hannah’s project is that it’s going to evolve into something completely unknown probably, in terms of what she does next,” said Director of Center for Teaching and Learning Carol A. Hurney, who witnessed the growth of Springhorn’s project.
“I want to learn a lot about myself as a person over the 12 months,” said Springhorn, who aspires to a career in global health. “At the end of the year I don’t know who I’m going to be. But I really can’t wait.”
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