Mar 22, 2012 - Claremont, Calif. - After graduation, Veerasak “Jeep” Srisuknimit ’12 will embark on a yearlong study of unicycling culture in five countries. The chemistry major and avid unicyclist was one of only 40 seniors—from a pool of 700 candidates—to receive a 2012-2013 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. The fellowship provides a $25,000 grant to fund a year of independent study and travel abroad.
Srisuknimit’s project will explore how choosing to unicycle is affected by culture and peoples’ understanding of physics. Entitled “Where is the Other Half? Exploring the Connections Among Unicycling, Cultures and Sciences,” the project will include travel to Italy, Ghana, India, Brazil and Japan.
“I chose those countries because I want them to be as diverse as possible, so that I may learn more about people and the world,” he said. “I want to know about the world of unicycling beyond just a college club, to meet other people who deliberately choose to ride on one wheel instead of two, three, or four, and to observe unicycling communities in different environments.”
His plans include specific goals for each country. In Ghana, he will teach at a local school and launch a unicycling club. In India, he will travel with Performers Without Borders, teaching circus skills to disadvantaged children. He will study unicycling’s potential place in physical education in Japan and its role at Carnival in Brazil. And, since the 16th World Unicycling Convention and Championships will take place this July in Italy, he hopes to meet and interview champion unicyclists while there.
Originally from Thailand, Srisuknimit had never seen a unicycle until his first year at Harvey Mudd College. Now he can ride the one-wheeled vehicle 30 miles in a day, including backwards and up stairs.
“I started learning to unicycle because I needed to travel around on campus faster, and I thought it looked fun and challenging,” said Srisuknimit, now president of HMCs unicycling club, Gonzo Unicycle Madness. “It’s also a good tool for connecting with people, since it often makes them smile and laugh.”
After completing the fellowship, he plans to earn his doctorate degree and teach chemistry as a professor in Thailand, where he hopes to start a unicycling club.
The Thomas J. Watson Foundation established the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 1968. The program offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel outside of the United States to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness and leadership, and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.
After graduation, Veerasak “Jeep” Srisuknimit ’12 will embark on a yearlong study of unicycling culture in five countries.
The chemistry major and avid unicyclist was one of only 40 seniors—from a pool of 700 candidates—to receive a 2012-2013 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. The fellowship provides a $25,000 grant to fund a year of independent study and travel abroad.
Media Contact: Judy Augsburger