Benard Kibet ’18 has been named a 2018 Watson Fellow, one of 40 U.S. college seniors named to the highly competitive and prestigious program that sends new graduates to explore projects around the world for a year.
Kibet, an economics and mathematics major from Tinet, Kenya, will use his fellowship to examine the challenges of living with disabilities in developing nations. “Inclusion and Independence of the Disabled” will take Kibet to Ghana, India, Tanzania, and South Africa to study organizations that work with the disabled.
“I am really grateful to have gotten this rare opportunity,” Kibet said. “I hope to learn better ways of helping disabled people become independent and fully realize their potential in life.”
Kibet, who plans a career in international development, said he was inspired to create his project by watching the challenges faced by his mother, who is blind.
“It made me wonder how her life and my life could have been if she had the opportunities that ‘abled’ people have,” he said.
The Watson Fellowship, started in 1968, provides a window of time after college and pre-career to engage students’ interest on a global scale. The fellows, who are nominated by their colleges, conceive their own projects and execute them outside the United States for one year. According to the foundation, the program “produces a year of personal insight, perspective, and confidence that shapes the arc of fellows’ lives.”
“Benard Kibet is an extraordinary young man who has consistently found ways to help others in every community he is part of,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Margaret McFadden. “He is someone who will surely build a life of meaning and purpose, and this Watson Fellowship is the ideal way to launch his post-graduate work in the world. “
Kibet has won two Davis Projects for Peace grants while at Colby, which allowed him first to build out a primary school in his community of Tinet, and the following year, bring running water to the town, improving the lives of all its citizens—particularly the women and girls who had to forgo time in school to fetch water used in daily life. His water project was the subject of Maji, an award-winning Colby-produced film.