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E. Brookfield scholar wins fellowship; Amherst senior home-schooled.

Amherst College senior Calista McRae, an English major from East Brookfield, is one of just 40 students across the United States to have received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for the 2009-10 academic year.

Ms. McRae will use the award, which comes with a $28,000 stipend, to study abandoned buildings in Germany, Bangladesh, India, the Czech Republic, Australia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Ms. McRae's project, titled "The Characters of Ruin," will explore ruins and their suggestive power, which she says is responsible for a "millennium of poetry and art, often sentimentalized, allegorized or picturesqued out of all proportion." She will draw and write about the uninhabited building found in desolate mining towns, industrial districts and anywhere else she can find them.

"I hope to emerge from the year with a clearer sense of how to express - verbally, visually, emotionally, aesthetically, critically - such a moving subject," Ms. McRae said.

"I cannot imagine a student in North America more qualified for a Watson Fellowship," said David Sofield, Samuel Williston Professor English at Amherst, in his recommendation for Ms. McRae. "She is not merely what I and my senior colleagues have encountered annually, the best literary student in her college cohort. Rather, she is a once-in-a-lifetime reader and writer. She will do the Watson Foundation proud."

Ms. McRae was home-schooled by her parents, John and Claire McRae of Podunk Road, studied art at David Prouty High School in Spencer and ran in its cross-country team. She audited courses at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester before enrolling at Amherst.

During her college career, she has served as an English research assistant and an art/graphic designer for student publications The Indicator, The Circus and Pepper. A violinist, Ms. McRae participated in several music ensembles and gave violin lessons. She reads Latin as well as Old and Middle English, studied Hindi and is currently learning Bengali. She is conversant in German.

In addition to the Watson, Ms. McRae was one of 22 students nationwide to receive a Beinecke Scholarship, which provides substantial funding for graduate study, and the college's James Charlton Knox Prize, which is given to "the student whose record through the junior year demonstrates the greatest integration of scholarship, interest and creativity in the study of English." She has also been elected to Amherst's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

And speaking of scholars, we at the Flash congratulate David Prouty High School's March Student of the Month, Victoria Monette.

Victoria, who lives in Spencer, has been a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Foreign Culture Club, International Club and Conflict Mediation. She has also served as an assistant to the director of the school play and is currently the senior class president.

Victoria has also been a member of the softball and field hockey teams for three years and indoor track for one year, captain of both field hockey and softball her senior year. Victoria was also awarded the Saint Michael's College Book Award.

In addition to her academic, extracurricular and community responsibilities, Victoria has worked at Dairy Queen, Morning Glory Gifts, Jewish Healthcare Center and Subway. Victoria also enjoys traveling. She has visited Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Mexico and the Caribbean. She would like to work with young children in the medical field.

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CUTLINE: Calista McRae, an Amherst College senior from East Brookfield, is one of just 40 students nationwide to have received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for the 2009-10 academic year.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 23, 2009
Words:582
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