Watson fellows returning to Grinnell to share stories during 50th anniversary celebration

Apr. 9, 2018 — Before he left for a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship that would take him to eight different countries, Alexander Reich ’11 kept hearing that the journey would be an “experience you keep coming back to, and continue learning from, your entire life.”

“I am now struck by how true it is, and how deep it is,” Reich says. “Sometimes weeks or months pass when I don’t think about my Watson, and then I am floored by something that bubbles up from within, or by something that I learn, that connects to the intensity of the experience I was able to have.”

Alexander Reich ’11
Alexander Reich ’11 poses for a photo during his fellowship, which examined the lives of far north residents in a changing world.

Grinnell College has nominated students for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship program since 1969. With the selection last month of Artis Curiskis ’18 and Nomalanga Shields ’18 for postgraduate fellowships in 2018-2019, a total of 79 students have been selected to traverse the globe on topics of personal significance and passion.

By receiving funding for travel and independent study for a year after graduating from Grinnell College, fellows have experienced new perspectives and life-altering encounters. Some have gone on to careers in the subject areas they explored.

“It is no exaggeration when I tell people that my entire career is thanks to the Watson Fellowship,” says David Gaines ’74.

Reich, Gaines and 15 other fellows will visit Grinnell for the Watson 50th Anniversary Celebration April 19 and 20. The festivities will include two free public events open to students, faculty, staff, and community members.

A Watson Fellow Panel and Reception will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. April 19 in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. Fellows will share their Watson journeys with the campus community through a decade panel moderated by Kelly Herold, a Grinnell College associate professor of Russian. Cake will be served in honor of the 50th anniversary.

On April 20, the Watson Slam will take center stage from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at Spencer Grill inside the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. Modeled after a poetry slam, Watson Fellowship alumni will share their unique Watson journeys in 10 minute slam presentations. Cupcakes, brownies and door prizes round out the festivities.

Additional events will take place during Reunion 2018 in June.

Here are the fellows returning to Grinnell for the 50th anniversary April 19 and 20.

  • Mary Brooner ’71
  • David Feldman ’71
  • Doug Russell ’71
  • Robert Eckardt ’73
  • David Gaines ’74
  • Susan Hyatt ’76
  • Kathleen Kurz ’79
  • Donna Olds White ‘81
  • Todd Oberman ’83
  • Adam Stam ’93
  • Rachel Stamm ’94
  • Hai-Dang Phan ’03
  • Linn Davis ’08
  • Alexander Reich ’11
  • Lane Atmore ’16
  • Chase Booth ’16
  • Julia Wilber (2011 graduate of Hamilton College)

For more information about the Watson Fellowships or the 50th anniversary events, please contact Ann Landstrom, director of global fellowships and awards in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, at 641-269-4940 or landstrom@grinnell.edu.

- by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year grant for purposeful, independent exploration outside the U.S., awarded to graduating seniors nominated by one of 40 partner colleges. Grinnell is one of those partner colleges. Learn more about becoming a Watson.