Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services
QUEENS COLLEGE WATSON FELLOWS PLAN TO PURSUE
CAREERS IN PUBLIC SERVICE
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 3, 2008—Queens College sophomores William Leverett of St. Albans and Jonathan Vazcones, a resident of East Elmhurst, want to make waves – waves of social change, that is. Their internship experiences as 2008 Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship winners have inspired them to consider careers in public service so they can help transform the lives of people struggling under poor social conditions. “Even a tiny ripple in the water can stimulate a huge wave of change,” observes Leverett. Watson fellows receive paid internships over three summers, which provide high-level work experiences and the opportunity to participate in leadership forums.
William Leverett, a music and political science major and a Business and Liberal Arts minor, says he wants to contribute to the growth and development of the world by addressing such issues as urban education, health care and the spiritual progress of global communities.
As a Watson fellow, Leverett interned this past summer at the Department of Youth and a Community Development, where he learned about municipal government, the power of community-based organizations and how arts programs are created, funded and evaluated. Leverett credits this experience with focusing his future direction and enhancing his professional development skills.
The multi-talented student, who plays with the college’s wind ensemble, views music as a powerful restorative force for change because “it is so universal and limitless.” Leverett is also a youth usher and lay reader at St. Albans Congregational Church and a member of the Queens College Black Student Union. In 2006 he was selected to go to Swaziland, South Africa, for two weeks to assist the youth minister of his church in faith-service work. He saw first-hand the effects of real poverty and desperation, which reinforced his goal of “achieving progress for people who are less fortunate.”
Along with his friend, Jonathan Vazcones, this year’s other Watson winner from Queens College, Leverett is developing a college mentoring program for high school students in Jamaica. Scheduled to begin next fall, the program aims to offer counseling and other training to prepare more students for college.
Vazcones, whose older sister Jessenia is a 2006 Queens College Watson fellow, is majoring in economics and philosophy. He aspires toward a career that would combine ethical values and decision-making with economic policy development.
This past summer Vazcones interned with the Summer Rescue Fund, a grant program that protects and supports academics and scholars who face political, social, ethnic or religious persecution. The fund is part of the Institute of International Education, a non-profit organization promoting international exchange. Vazcones says that his experience “showed him the reality of injustice” and invigorated him “to help build public awareness and develop solutions for these social ills.”
At Queens College Vazcones is a member of the Political Science Club and a delegate to the United Nations Club. He also plays a tenor saxophone with various jazz bands in New York and enjoys track and field.
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Founded in 1937, the college offers an exceptional liberal arts curriculum, with over 115 undergraduate and graduate majors and a variety of specialized honors programs. Its more than 18,000 students come from over 140 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment.
Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College is highly rated by leading guidebooks—for example, it was named one of the nation's 25 "hottest" and "most interesting" colleges by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide and is consistently included in the Princeton Review America's Best Value Colleges.