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Watson Fellowship Overview

The Watson Foundation selects about 40 winners from a national pool of 160 nominated by about 40 small liberal arts colleges similar to Colby. The national Watson Foundation awards seniors a $40,000 stipend to travel the world for a year after graduation, as well as paying most student loans for the year. If the pandemic continues into the summer of 2021, winners will probably be given two years rather than one to complete their Watson year. Unlike Marshall or Fulbright, the Watson is not related to academic achievement. Selection is based on leadership potential (broadly defined). not the project per se. Your project is a means of realizing your potential through a year of intense self-exploration. The outcome is you after your Watson journey. Projects are highly individual, but they must take place for a year outside of the U.S., and not involve returning to a country you’ve spent more than six weeks previously (with a few exceptions). Past winners from Colby have explored environmental challenges besetting the world’s rivers, compiled oral history from survivors of Stalin’s Terror, and participated in running cultures around the world.

If you would like to know more, please visit:

Thomas J Watson Fellowship Website

Colby Watson Fellowship Portal

There is still plenty of time to put together a strong application, but the campus deadline is Thursday, October 12th at noon. You apply on the national Watson Fellowship website, but I must clear you. The campus committee will nominate four students in October after reviewing written applications and interviewing applicants.

The two most important parts of the application are the 1,500-word personal statement and the 1,500-word project description. Must successful candidates go through numerous drafts, so I strongly encourage you to start now.

We are planning a Zoom informational sessions in July and early September 2023. You can also learn more about the Watson at the Spring Night of Fellowships. As always, I am happy to work with students via Zoom or email before the semester starts. Feel free to contact the returning members of the Watson Committee if you know them or if they have some knowledge or expertise about your topic. The committee is made up of professors Plesch, LaFave, Strohl, El-Shaarawi, and Martin.

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