April 7, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Denise Twum, a senior at Amherst College, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and will travel to Britain, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa to study domestic violence in different cultures.

“An analysis of the role culture plays in the representation of domestic violence in these various cultures,” Twum wrote in her proposal, “would be useful in understanding how domestic violence is constructed and combated.” Twum will visit women’s organizations, record the stories of women, study the legislative response and examine how local “pop culture” affects the response to violence.

A biology and women’s and gender studies major at Amherst, Twum grew up in Ghana and came to the U.S. to study first at Dartmouth College, transferring to Amherst in 2004. At Amherst she has worked as a writing tutor, Peer Career counselor and teaching assistant in chemistry and biology. She is also the co-director of the Amherst College Gospel Choir.

Twum plans to continue her education with an advanced degree in public health that focuses on teenage health education and women’s reproductive health. She also hopes to build “a multipurpose center geared toward addressing the needs of women and teen girls” in her native Ghana, which will include services such as “reproductive health education, gynecological examinations, a career resource center and a fitness/nutrition center,” she wrote in her proposal.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowships provide 60 exceptional college graduates, from 49 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 2,200 Watson Fellows have studied all over the world with the support of Watson Fellowships.

Founded in 1821 for “the education of indigent young men of piety and talents,” Amherst College is now widely regarded as the premier liberal arts college in the nation, enrolling a diverse group of approximately 1,600 young men and women. Well known for its academic excellence, Amherst is also consistently ranked among the very best schools in the country in terms of accessibility: The college’s financial aid packages are consistently the most generous in the U.S., and among its peer universities and colleges Amherst has the greatest economic diversity. Diversity, in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst’s mission. The college enrolls students from every state and more than 40 countries, and for the past several years more than 35 percent of Amherst’s students have been students of color. Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 33 fields of study.