Three seniors receive Watson Fellowships to study abroad for a year

Publication Date

Stephen Nadler ‘21, Matthew Roizin-Prior ‘21 and Sarah Vanasse ’21 have each been awarded a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to spend the next year pursuing their passion.

The three are among 42 students selected as finalists after nominations from private liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States. The fellowship offers a one-year grant to seniors “of unusual promise” to study independently outside the U.S. The stipend for individual award winners is $36,000.

The newest fellows come from 22 states and eight countries. They will traverse 77 countries exploring topics from marginalized languages to community healthcare; from food sovereignty to Black women's liberation through art; from computer science education to underground music production.

All fellows will depart by Aug. 1 if international travel safety related to the pandemic improves. Otherwise, students will be granted a flexible deferral period for starting their fellowship.

Since the program’s inception, 62 Union students have been awarded fellowships. This marks the first time since 1973 the College has three winners in a single year.

“I see Stephen, Matthew and Sarah’s Watson projects as the culmination of their four years at Union both in and out of the classroom,” said Lynn Evans, director of National Fellowships and Scholarships at Union. “They each worked hard during the application process, developing insight into their personal and professional goals, and learning how to communicate their narratives and objectives to others. I couldn’t be happier that the knowledge and skills they have gained at Union have led to this outcome.”

The children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeanette, established the program in 1968 to honor their parents’ longstanding interest in education and world affairs.

To learn more about this year’s Watson Fellows and their projects, visit the Watson website.

Steven Nadler


Hometown: Scarsdale, N.Y.

Majors: Anthropology and Visual Arts

Project title: Photographing Soccer: Community and Identity Across the World

Countries: Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Senegal

Description: “My project immerses me among the most passionate soccer communities around the world. Over the course of this year, I will work with various photographers, photo-journalists, non-profit organizations and researchers across each country to gain numerous perspectives about soccer’s impact on players, fan groups, and larger national identity. By integrating myself into other cultures, I look forward to meeting others from around the world that can share their own stories and teach me about their self-identity.”

Matthew Roizin-Prior


Hometown: Easton, Pa.

Major: Mechanical engineering

Minor: Studio Fine Arts

Project title: Designing Ourselves: Investigating the Design-Culture Feedback Loop

Countries: Dominican Republic, Uganda, Australia, Greece

Description: “Rather than focus on how one facet of the design industry interacts with culture, my project will provide a broad perspective on multiple facets of design. On each leg of the journey, I will study how different regions insert cultural-thinking into the engineering design process. The experiences collected throughout this journey would then be used to construct a design process for myself and future designers, one that would help anticipate the impact of design on culture.”

Sarah Vanasse


Hometown: Worcester, Mass.

Majors: Biology and Anthropology

Project title: Activism in Female Empowerment

Countries: Sweden, South Africa, India, New Zealand

Description: “I hope to learn more about what motivates people to engage in activism focusing on women’s rights. I hope to broaden my perspective on female empowerment through listening to people’s stories on how they uplift themselves and women around them. Personally, I hope to further understand what motivates me and what challenges me throughout the Watson year, as well as learn how to deal with uncertainty and go with the flow!”

Union’s previous Watson fellows:

Vito Potenza ‘69
Study of East Asian Contemporary Society

Arnold Drogen ‘70
Dance and Theater in East Africa

Eugene Kokot ‘70
Regional Problems of Development in Northern Scandinavia

Steven Cole ‘71
Study of Voice and Opera

Steven David ‘72
Analysis of Chinese and Israeli Aid Programs in East Africa

William Dobishinski ‘73
Economic Cooperation The Way to Political Peace

Vincent Foster ‘73
Economic Development

Michael Vanhatten ‘73
Folk Roots of European Jazz

Charles Goodwin ‘74

Robert Cable ‘75
Child Development

Jayne Greenwald ‘75
Martial Arts and Dance

Joseph Bedell ‘76
Blue-collar Workers in Industry

Kit Singh ‘76
Research for Novel

David Hopkins ‘77
Energy Regulation

Laura Shore ‘78
Goethe's Italian Journey

J. Peter Donlon ‘79
Sociology of Amusement Parks

Peter Hooper ‘80
Communal Agriculture

Edward Horstmann ‘80
Symbol and Ritual in Coastal Villages

Michele Beaulieu ‘81

Tamara Wood ‘82
Cultural & Economic Factors Influencing Engineering Career Choices

Jonathan Titus ‘83
Management of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries

Liesel Golden ‘85
Women in the Military

Melinda Zumski ‘86
Political Theater

Daniel Gordon ‘87
Cross-cultural Study of Baseball

Susan von Reusner ‘87
Women Textile Workers

Vincent Nicotina ‘88
Cultural Formation and Folk Music

Eddy Remy ‘88
African Dance Westernization and Tradition

Yeshaya Poyurs ‘89
Role of Religion in Revolution

Anna Allen ‘90
Comparative Study of Drug Legislation Policies

Gregory Angus ‘90
Role of Toys in Childhood Development

Shelley Szymko ‘91
Changes in the Work Ethic: Integration of Capitalist Ideas & Socialist Ideology

Katherine Rawstron ‘93
Photographing the Disabled

Elisabeth Tripp ‘93
Ancient Engineering

Jacques Etienne ‘94
Effects of Modernization on Traditional Markets

William Wolff ‘94
Writing Poetry in Eliot's Europe

Rebecca Gergely ‘95
Influence of Culture on Educational Goals

Trinh Thai ‘96
Technological and Social Aspects of Ancient Bridges

Jessica Bernstein ‘97
Female Tae Kwon Do Artists

Zane Riester ‘97
Exploring Renaissance & Baroque Churches & Train Stations

Scott Stedman ‘99
Past & Present: A Screenplay on Walter Benjamin

Anastasie Prokhorova ‘01
The Cultural Phenomenon of the "Wunderkind"

Louisa Stephens ‘01
Photographic Explorations: Pursuing the Sun

Nori Lupfer ‘03
Circuses & Stunts: Photography of Entertainment in Motion

Adam Grode ‘05
Long-Necked Lutes from Baku to Bishkek: A Musical Journey in Central Asia

Noah Eber-Schmid ‘06
The Kids Are Alright? Punk Subcultures as Community and Movement

Andrew Krauss ‘08
In the Pursuit of Speed: Evolution in Outrigger Canoeing

Frederick Franke ‘10
Out of the Kitchen and Into the Fire: Exploring Open-Fire Cooking Methods

Burleigh Morton ‘10
Large Format Cargo: Photographing the Shipping Industry

Joshua Anderson ‘13
Holistic Self-sufficiency: Exploring the Intersection of Community, Innovation, and Self

Shilpa Darivemula ‘13
Of Medicine and Mudras: Exploring Healing Through Traditional Dance Cultures

Sean Day ‘14
What Moves You: Exploring The Value of Human Motion Through Cultural Perceptions of Disabilities

Shiqing He ‘14
The Fading Color: Natural Dye Production around the Globe

Karlee Bergendorff ‘15
The Dirty Archeology of Alternative History

Warren Thompson ‘15
Flute Music Across the World: Exploring Expression, Ritual, and Healing

Htoo Wai Htet ‘16
Jugaad Innovation: Making Technological Empowerment Affordable

Riley Konsella ‘17
Stuck in Traffic: Steering Offbeat Transportation Solutions through Human Pushback

Samantha Miller ‘19
Poignant Nostalgia: Investigating Architecture through Abandoned Spaces

Emmanuela “Ella” Oppong ’19
Social Entrepreneurship: Empowering Local Minds, Finding Healthcare Solutions

Cameron Bechtold ‘20
Staying Afloat: Community Responses to Water Management

Danielle Pinney ‘20
Moving Stories: Crafting Narratives Through and About Dance