Press Releases

March 15, 2018

Announcing the 50th Class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows

New York, New York (March 15th, 2018) – Continuing its tradition of expanding the vision and developing the potential of remarkable students, today the Watson Foundation announced its 50th Class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows. The Watson provides a year of unparalleled international discovery for select graduating college seniors in any discipline.

This year's class hails from 8 countries and 17 states. They'll travel to 67 countries exploring topics ranging from foster care to opera; from the Cambrian Explosion to human augmentation; from threatened big cat species to spoken word. “This year we celebrate a half century of investing in remarkable students and the vivid value that has been provided by the program over five decades. Watson Fellows have gone on to argue America’s most influential education legislation before the US Supreme Court, reinvent affordable housing, journalism, Broadway, contemporary music, computing and data science, and change how we think about the earth’s formation. The importance of investing in young leaders has only grown over the last fifty years and we are thrilled by the aspirations, courage and creativity of this landmark class,” said Chris Kasabach, Executive Director of the Watson Foundation. 

Watson awardees come from private colleges and universities across the United States. From the program's 40 partner institutions, 152 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 Fellows were selected. Fellows will receive $30,000 for twelve-months of travel and college loan assistance as needed.

About the Watson Foundation

In 1961, the Watson Foundation was created as a charitable trust in the name Thomas J. Watson Sr, best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind programs, and over 100 global partnerships, the Foundation provides students with personal, professional and cultural opportunities that expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build their confidence and perspective do so for others.

About the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Nearly 3000 Watson Fellows have been named since the inaugural class went abroad in 1969. A Watson Year provides fellows with an opportunity to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become global leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar Award winners, Pulitzer Prize awardees, artists, diplomats, doctors, faculty, journalists, lawyers, politicians, researchers and inspiring influencers around the world.


Nisreen Abo-Sido, Wellesley College

Lucrecia Aguilar, Rice University

Tosin Alliyu, Haverford College

Zuhra Amini, Whitman College

Jennifer Bitterly, Rhodes College

CJ Blair, Oberlin College

Elijah Cauley, Lawrence University 

Benjamin Charo, Swarthmore College

Tina Chen, Middlebury College

Artis Curiskis, Grinnell College 

Ellie Ellis, Pitzer College

Hans Han, Wellesley College

Rob Hefferon, Williams College 

Theo Hooker, Colorado College

Carol Hundal, Wellesley College

Lam Huynh, Harvey Mudd College

Owen Janson, Haverford College

Benard Kibet, Colby College

Leo McElroy, Middlebury College

Lina Mihret, Scripps College

Thobeka Mnisi, Oberlin College

Kureem Nugent, Hamilton College

Isabel O'Malley, Hamilton College 

Paula Ortiz, Hamilton College 

Marquis Palmer, Hamilton College

Sierra Ponthier, Davidson College

Mohamed Ramy, Amherst College

Devin Reese, Whitman College

Keaohuana'oli Rivera-leong, University of Puget Sound

Wilmary Rodriguez, Bard College

Lucas Rosa, Wheaton College

Sunaina Sherchan, Berea College

Sanam Sheriff, Bryn Mawr College

Nomalanga Shields, Grinnell College

Emily Stanford, Oberlin College

Nevan Swanson, Bowdoin College

Madeline Sy, Scripps College

Fatoumta Sylla, Bryn Mawr College

Michelle Wang, California Institute of Technology

Elizabeth Zhou, Middlebury College 

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