April 6, 2001
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Sonali Duggal, a senior at Amherst College, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and will travel next year to England, Turkey, South Africa and Chile for a comparative study of how home-based workers can organize to improve their income and working conditions. Duggal is a resident of Los Altos Hills, Calif.

A political science and economics major at Amherst, Duggal took a semester off from college to travel to India to work with the Self-Employed Women’s Association, a women’s union, microcredit bank, health cooperative and “people-based movement that seemed to encompass everything ‘right’ in development,” as she wrote in her Watson application. “As a woman,” she wrote, “I am deeply concerned by the problems faced by poor women in home-based work. As a scholar, I am interested in contributing to the literature on local efforts of women workers. And as an activist, I want to see the situation of home-based workers improved.”

Duggal plans eventually to attend graduate school in public policy, and to pursue a career in development or academics. At Amherst, she founded the Food Bank Farm Group, an organization that works with local agriculture, was a member of the South Asian Students Association, and was on the crew and ultimate Frisbee teams.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowships provide 60 exceptional college graduates, from 50 of America’s leading liberal arts colleges, with the freedom to engage in a year of independent study and travel abroad. The program was begun in 1968 by the family of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, to honor their parents’ interest in education and world affairs. More than 2,300 Watson Fellows have studied all over the world with the support of Watson Fellowships. Duggal is the 36th Amherst student to receive a Watson Fellowship in the past 15 years.