Jacqueline Ward, a 2006 graduate of Sunset High School, has won a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study contortion around the world following her graduation from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.
Ward graduated cum laude in December with a major in anthropology of the performing arts and a minor in gender studies.
She was among 40 awardees nationwide, chosen from 148 finalists nominated by select private liberal arts colleges and universities.
'We look for persons likely to lead or innovate in the future and give them extraordinary independence to pursue their interests outside of traditional academic structures' said Cleveland Johnson, director of the Watson Fellowship Program.
The 40 fellows come from 21 states and four countries. Together they will travel 71 countries exploring topics from sword dancing to voluntary poverty to migratory fish
A member of Puget Sound's class of 2010, Ward founded the campus Circus Club, was involved in theater productions and served as a resident assistant. She was an summer research scholar and recipient of the E. Ann Neel Award for excellence in gender studies.
Ward had a special interdisciplinary major in anthropology and performing arts.
For her fellowship, Ward plans to visit Mongolia, China, India, Canada and France to examine the role that contortion plays in self-identity and the community and in the construction of what it means to be human.
She said she hopes to learn from the best contortionists in the world in Mongolia, to practice yoga in India, to go to festivals in China and to attend 'circus schools' in Montreal.
'Contortion is a powerful, expressive form as its one instrument, the human body, is a tool (that) all of humanity shares,' Ward wrote for the fellowship panel. 'Through participation, observation and intercultural exploration, I will delve into the spiritual, artistic and humanistic potential of this expressive human form.'
She currently works as a circus coach in Seattle.
She is the daughter of Jeanine and Ken Ward of Portland.