Junior Will Meadows was recently awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which will allow him to travel around the world pursuing his many passions, immersing him in new experiences, and studying traditional canoe building techniques with master craftsmen. For Meadows, the canoe represents far more than a simple vessel, but rather his “ultimate passion,” the marriage of two of his most important devotions. According to Meadows, canoes exhibit an age-old combination of people and their interactions with the natural world.
Meadows was selected to be one of the 40 Watson Foundation’s 2012-2013 fellows out of an original applicant pool of over 700 students. Meadows wrote his proposal, “Humanity’s Vessel: The Art and Ecology of Canoes,” after growing up navigating rivers around the world. Speaking of the canoe, he stated, “It was as if two parts of me, the environmentalist and someone with deep faith in humanity, were in union for the first time.”
Meadows’ transformative fellowship will take him to Canada, Peru, Bolivia, the Solomon Islands, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Central Africa and, finally, Norway, where he will end the year. Over these twelve months, he will explore different canoe crafting techniques with different materials including birch bark, reeds, skin and canvas, and dugout canoes.
The Watson Fellowship is a stipend of $25,000 awarded to graduating seniors from 40 highly-selective small colleges around the country. Recipients are challenged to embark on a self-designed program that will take them to new places around the world and present them with new experiences. During their year of study, students are not allowed to return to the United States or their country of origin. This year’s recipients will be exploring diverse topics ranging from neuroscience, to children’s perception of the universe, to beekeeping.
Meadows is a great advocate of discovering where personal passion lies and following it. “The most beautiful experience [of the Watson Fellowship] was just putting together the proposal because you had to ask yourself: What would you do for a year with no limits? What’s your passion?” Whether your passion is canoes, theatre, video games, or Turkish rugs, the Watson Fellowship and Lawrence’s close connections with the foundation continue to provide Lawrentians with the experience of a lifetime.
Since the inception of the Watson Fellowship in 1969, Lawrentians have been awarded 68 fellowships. According to Dean of the Conservatory of Music Brian Pertl, Lawrence University’s liaison with the Watson foundation and former Watson fellow, the Watson offers “an amazing life-changing adventure that will be with you for the rest of your life and an opportunity that all students should consider.” There will be an info session for any current students interested in applying for a fellowship later this term.
By this August, Will Meadows will have launched into the world to begin his studies. “While the Watson Fellowship will allow me to focus on my deepest passion, it will also allow me to find new meaning at the crossroads of all of my passions including writing, ecology, art, people and exploration.”