Jordan McClintock ’22, a science, technology, and society (STS) major from Wading River, N.Y., has been named a 2022 Watson Fellow. The prestigious fellowship will support McClintock for a year of international travel to pursue her project “The House that Healthcare Built,” focusing on medical inequities and healthcare struggles facing child refugees.
McClintock, a Ralph J. Bunche Scholar on Colby’s premed track, plans to travel to Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. These countries have experienced an influx of refugees that’s challenged them to respond to the unique needs of displaced children—some with more success than others.
When she heard that she’d been selected, she was moved to tears. “It’s just so unreal to me that somebody who’s come from a small little home in New York, and to have this amazing opportunity. I was in utter disbelief.”
McClintock is Colby’s 66th Watson Fellow. She is one of just 40 Watson Fellows nationwide selected from a competitive pool of students representing the foundation’s 41 partnering colleges.
The inspiration for McClintock’s project stems from her mother’s experience coming to the United States from Central America in 1971—alone and only 6 years old.
“When my mother came here as a child, she came with basically just her name,” said McClintock. “She told me all these stories as I got older, … and it always affected me knowing that she didn’t have anybody to help her navigate the healthcare system in the U.S. With the Watson, I knew I wanted to focus on children’s healthcare and displacement.”
McClintock built on that bedrock in her academic work, said Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies Jay Sibara, who’s currently working with McClintock on an independent study focusing on inequities in medicine, including readings on refugee healthcare experiences.
“This is an issue that she’s passionately committed to and intent on focusing on in her medical career,” Sibara said. McClintock’s Watson project “stemmed from at least a year’s worth of preparatory work in classes,” he said. “By the time she was writing the proposal, there was a sense she wasn’t hitting these issues brand-new, that there was a kind of depth of learning that she had already brought to it.”
McClintock exhibited inner wisdom to guide her course selection, Sibara said, to foster a deep and targeted exploration of the topic. Sibara’s literature and medicine course, followed by a course on global health by Assistant Professor of Global Studies Nadia El-Shaarawi, proved foundational for McClintock.
In a way, she built a concentration on children’s healthcare and displacement within the STS major, Sibara said. By seeking out faculty members and courses supporting Colby’s new medical humanities initiative, McClintock now possesses “a real depth of understanding intellectually,” he said, “and also a political sensitivity to many of the issues that are at stake.”
McClintock envisions her Watson year as an ethnographic journey. Through conversations with healthcare providers, community groups, parents, and children, she plans to compile narratives that she’ll weave together into a resource for herself and others.
As Europe faces a new refugee crisis as a result of the war in Ukraine, her project couldn’t be more timely.
“I think that it’s going to be super hard, accepting that I’m not there to solve this crisis. This is a crisis that’s so beyond most people in the world. It’s so layered,” said McClintock. She believes, however, that her Watson experience will help her become a medical provider versed in issues surrounding refugee resettlement and the societies and healthcare systems that take them in.
McClintock credits four Colby sources for helping her win this life-changing fellowship. The Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences (CAPS), without which she would “never be in my position;” DavisConnects, “for providing me with opportunities to explore abroad for Jan Plan;” the Watson Faculty Advisory Committee, “for their writing support;” and Sibara, “who was instrumental in helping me create an application that was completely and authentically me.”
Said Sibara: “Having witnessed Jordan build intellectual community at Colby, engage in social justice transformation work collaboratively with others, and form strong connections with faculty and students who share her passion for equity and accessibility for those most marginalized in a society gives me tremendous confidence that she will not only succeed at what she has proposed for the Watson, but that the Watson is going to be one step in a much longer trajectory for her.”
McClintock will depart on her Watson journey Aug. 1, 2022. She’ll begin in Canada and continue on to Europe, continually moving outside her comfort zone.
“There’s going to be awkwardness and there’s going to be uncomfortableness,” she said. “But I love embracing that unfamiliar side of independence. It’s something I’m looking forward to learning.”
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