Moni Ayoub '19 will use a $30,000 Watson Fellowship award to research domestic violence around th...Moni Ayoub '19 will use a $30,000 Watson Fellowship award to research domestic violence around the world. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’20

Ayoub, who is from Barsa, Lebanon, joins a total of 40 Watson fellows from colleges and universities across the United States in 2019, winning a $30,000 stipend for her project.

“I am eager to see what I will learn about myself and the world through this process,” Ayoub says. “Through storytelling and listening to others, we move from vulnerability to empowerment, emotional growth, and healing.”

Ayoub plans to travel to Argentina, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sweden for her project, investigating how non-governmental organizations, legal structures, religion, education, social class, and tradition affect the incidence of domestic violence in each country and support or inhibit women’s freedom and autonomy. Her studies will seek to determine how organizations are "Through storytelling and listening to others, we move from vulnerability to empowerment, em..."Through storytelling and listening to others, we move from vulnerability to empowerment, emotional growth, and healing," says Moni Ayoub '19. Credit: Yoi Ashida ’19able to integrate educational and preventative initiatives within diverse religious and cultural norms.

“What drives me to this topic are the many stories I’ve heard from women, both of struggle and of power, as well as my past experiences with this issue,” Ayoub says.

Ayoub’s studies at COA have encompassed education, agriculture, art, and the humanities, but it was a course entitled “Intimate Partner Violence” that first opened the window toward understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and some of her past experiences, Ayoub says. From there, she volunteered and then interned at The Next Step: Domestic Violence Project, in Ellsworth, Maine, where she was inspired by the strong values and incredible work of the staff and other volunteers.

“That experience made me curious about what other countries are doing to end intimate partner abuse, how advocates’ roles change in different religious, cultural and social contexts, and what stories women choose to tell about themselves across borders and cultures,” Ayoub says.

Ayoub is a Davis United World College Scholar and among the 25 percent of the COA student body from an international background. She is resilient, mature, resourceful, and especially suited to the difficult project she has set out before herself, says COA Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts Dr. Catherine Clinger.

“I have many students who have left a deep impression on me; Moni is probably one of the one or two that have changed my way of thinking about the future and touched me deeply in a fundamental way,” Clinger says. “Some youth equate leadership to making things ‘happen’ or offering ‘solutions’ – Moni’s quality of leadership is informed by her modest compassion and tough mind fused to a strong heart; a deep integrity and steadfast work ethic; an imagination that empowers the imaginations of others to create performance, prints, stories; and, to envision a path to a more secure, healthful, and helpful existence.”

As a second-year COA student, Moni Ayoub, left, partnered with Anđela Rončević ’19, right, w...As a second-year COA student, Moni Ayoub, left, partnered with Anđela Rončević ’19, right, who is also a Davis United World College Scholar, to win a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from the Davis United World Scholars Program to build the first recycling program in Lebanon.The Watson Fellowship offers a window after college and pre-career for young people to engage their deepest interests on a global scale. Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States for one year and embrace the ensuing journey. They decide where to go, who to meet and when to change course. They do not affiliate with academic institutions and may not hold formal employment.

The program produces a year of personal insight, perspective and confidence that shapes the arc of fellows’ lives. Started in 1968, Watson Fellows comprise leaders in every field. In addition to the stipend, the foundation provides health insurance reimbursements and the equivalent of 12-months of payments on outstanding institutional and federally guaranteed loans. There are just 40 colleges and universities, including COA, who may nominate students.

College of the Atlantic believes that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape the future. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and is the Princeton Review’s #1 Green College 2016-2018. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology—which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built, and social environments—and sets their own path toward a degree. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members was founded in 1969 and offers Bachelor of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees.