In 1969 the first Watson Fellows went abroad. The purpose was to encourage graduating college students to embrace their biggest ideas on an international scale. In doing so they could build the confidence, perspective and international concern to become more humane and effective leaders of their own lives and the lives of others. Since that time, nearly 3,000 Watson Fellows have been awarded and over 42,000 students have completed the Watson application, a powerful process that turns a big idea into a personal blueprint.
Today Watson Fellows are leaders in every field. They have argued America’s most influential education legislation before the US Supreme Court, reinvented affordable housing, journalism, Broadway, contemporary music, computing and data science, and established important new theories about the earth’s formation. During our 50th Anniversary we celebrated with our partner institutions, connected with fellows across the world, built and relocated to a new creative space, completed the largest review of the (TJ) Watson Fellowship's impact in our history, and launched many new projects that position the foundation and our fellows for the future.