Press Releases

March 15, 2017

2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellows

New York, New York (March 15th, 2017) – Continuing its tradition of expanding the vision and developing the potential of remarkable students, today the Watson Foundation announced the 49th class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows. The Watson provides a year of unparalleled international exploration for select graduating college seniors in any field.

This year's class comes from 6 countries and 21 states. They'll travel to 67 countries exploring topics ranging from pediatric cancer treatment to citizen journalism; from animation to autonomous vehicles; from immigration to island communities; from megacities to wildfire management. “As we approach a half century of making big bets on remarkable students, we are thrilled to announce this year’s class,” said Chris Kasabach, Executive Director of the Watson Foundation. "We work with a terrific group of partner institutions and these fellows show the enormous depth, width and creativity of our next generation of leaders.”

Watson awardees come from private liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States. From the program's 40 partner institutions, 149 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 required.

About the Watson Foundation

In 1961, Jeannette K. Watson created the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in the name of her husband, Thomas J. Watson Sr, best known for building IBM. Through one-of-a-kind programs, the Foundation provides fellows with cultural, professional and personal opportunities that challenge them to expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build the confidence and perspective to do so for others. In 2015, the Foundation organized as a public-facing foundation, unifying its programs under the Watson Foundation.

About the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Over 2,800 Watsons have been named since the fellowship's start in 1968. 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 international influencers 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 leaders around the world.


Asia Alman, Vassar College

Kelvin Ampem-Darko, Wheaton College

Aziz Anderson, Swarthmore College

Zakiyya Ashe, Berea College

Tanner Byer, Pomona College

Julie Byrnes, Vassar College

Amal Cheema, Wellesley College

Sheila Chukwulozie, Amherst College

Nina Finley, Whitman College

Michaela Fisher, Wesleyan University

Mariely Garcia, Bowdoin College

Kaara “Kava” Garcia Vasquez, Macalester College

Joseph Genualdi, Lawrence University

Liam Grace-Flood, Wheaton College

Tyler Harvey, Rhodes College

Tomal Hossain, Amherst College

Harry Johnson, Bard College

Kate Joss, Davidson College

Riley Konsella, Union College

Oleksander (Sasha) Kuzura, Grinnell College

Imani Lewis-Norelle, Earlham College

Lauren Li, California Institute of Technology

Carson Lyness, University of Puget Sound

Mark McAlister, Sewanee: University of the South

Rachel McKay, Davidson College

Ngan “Jasmine” Nguyen, Macalester College

Kirk Pearson, Oberlin College

Samuel Perkins, Whitman College

Alejandra Wheelock Rodriguez, Grinnell College

Dani Roomes, Bryn Mawr College

Emily Ross, Carleton College

Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg, Bard College

Dina Sinclair, Harvey Mudd College

Angelica Spearwoman, University of Puget Sound

Julia Thomas, Scripps College

Evelin Toth, Middlebury College

Paulus Van Horne, Oberlin College

Madhuri Venkateswar, Rice University

Jin Jin Xu, Amherst College

Allison Yu, Rice University

Media Inquiries

For more information about Watson or our work, please contact us.