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When Colby College senior Anna L’Hommedieu studied in Quito, Ecuador, for a semester last year, she often saw long lines of Ecuadorians in front of the Spanish embassy waiting for temporary work permits. The mass-migration of Ecuadorians bound for Spain due to their country’s economic crisis reflects their desperation for financial opportunity, says L’Hommedieu. As the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship for a year of independent study abroad following her graduation in May L’Hommedieu will become a temporary immigrant, traveling from Ecuador to Spain to document the lives of Ecuadorian migrants for her project “Temporary Immigrants: A Permanent Solution?”

L’Hommedieu of Brightwood, Ore., is one of 60 U.S. college seniors to win a $22,000 Watson Fellowship this year and will spend the 12 months after graduation living among Ecuadorian migrants in Spain to document their daily lives through photography, record stories and research the policies governing immigration between the two countries. She will exhibit her photographs and biographical sketches in Quito upon completion.

A graduate of Sandy Union High School, L’Hommedieu is majoring in international studies and minoring in economics at Colby. She is the daughter of William and Ann L’Hommedieu of Brightwood.

Colby has had at least one Watson Fellow each year since 1971-72, and L’Hommedieu is the college’s 53rd Watson Fellow. Colby, in Waterville, Maine, combines a challenging academic program, an emphasis on undergraduate research, and a friendly, supportive atmosphere on one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. Colby’s reach is international—in its recruitment of diverse students and faculty, the scope of its curriculum and its ambitious study-abroad program. The college enrolls 1,800 students.

Established in 1968 by the children of IBM founder Thomas J. Watson Sr. and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, the Watson Fellowship program provides graduates of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges an opportunity to conduct 12-month independent research projects overseas. More than 1,000 graduating college seniors from 50 participating colleges applied for the Watson Foundation’s 60 grants this year. Winners were selected based upon their character, academic record and leadership potential and the personal significance of their proposals.