The Right Person for the Job – Reed Magazine

Watson Fellowship winner Stevie Hoesel ’22 plans to bring a unique perspective to the study of youth intervention systems around the world.

By Romel Hernández
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May 19, 2022

At 15, Stevie Hoesel had already reached a turning point in her young life. She had grown up shuttling between living with her single mother in her native Taiwan and staying with family and friends in the United States and Canada. After dropping out of school to support her family, she says, she mingled with criminal activities.

It was then that she made the conscious choice to change course, obtaining a scholarship to attend a private boarding school in California and, after excelling academically and graduating from high school, she continued her education at Reed.

This spring, the senior anthropology major was one of 42 students selected nationwide as 2022 Watson Scholars, earning a year of all-expenses-paid, unconditional international travel to pursue a meaningful personal project.

As someone who can’t help but wonder how her journey might have turned out if she hadn’t been serious about school, Hoesel found the perfect subject for her Watson: studying the systems of criminal intervention for young people in New Zealand, Australia, Norway and the Netherlands. She will spend a year investigating how various communities and social institutions around the world develop policies and practices related to incarceration and its alternatives, such as restorative justice. Justice.

“What people misunderstand about young people involved in criminal activity is that there is a sense of community that comes from being involved in things like gangs,” she says. . “ThisThis is why talking only about “rehabilitation of children at risk” displaces the underlying problem that there are not enough response and support systems to help communities. »

Hoesel’s childhood experiences make her uniquely suited to explore such a complex issue.

“YYou have to be able to show that you’re the perfect person to do your project, and that’s the project for me,” she says. “What others may consider personal baggage becomes my toolbox for working with and for children.”

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation is in its 54th year of awarding travel grants to senior graduates from a select group of small liberal arts colleges across the country, including Reed. The prestigious program aims, in the words of the foundation, to help students “develop personal, professional and cultural opportunities that expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and strengthen their confidence and perspective to be more human leaders. and effective with a vision of the world. “Dozens of Reedies have been Watson Fellows over the years; Hoesel is this year’s college selection.

Hoesel learned about the Watson program while visiting the Center for Life Beyond Reed, which helps students explore life and career options after graduation. The centre’s counselors support students from their second and first year through every step of the extremely competitive scholarship application and interview process.

She also credits serving as co-chair of the Student Judicial Council, which investigates and adjudicates alleged breaches of Reed’s honor principle, with broadening her thinking about the meaning of justice. She says, “Serving on the J Board can be emotionally taxing, but it’s been a great place to learn about different ways to be proactive in supporting community values, while trying to reduce harm and ensure that people feel safe and supported. ”

Hoesel’s first travel destination for Watson will be New Zealand, where she will examine why the Maori people’s approach to restorative justice has become a global model. She will compare her findings to Australia, which she says “is often portrayed as a hostile place for minority and indigenous children” but is struggling to reform its systems.

After her stay in the southern hemisphere, she will travel to Europe to learn more about Norway’s innovative prison and rehabilitation system and the Dutch network of community organizations working with young people at the grassroots level.

She has already established an impressive network of contacts with government agencies, activist groups and higher education institutions in the countries she plans to visit. That said, she remains open to serendipity and the possibility of her travels taking her in different directions, which is very much in line with Watson’s philosophy.

“I don’t limit myself,” she says. “I think it’s a chance to figure out what I really want to do in the future.”

Hoesel is considering law school or a graduate school of public policy. And while she says she’s unsure of her long-term plans, she envisions a career “focused on creating better outcomes for people and their communities.”

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