Wesleyan Alums Share about Experience as Watson Fellows

Students gathered at the Fries Center for Global Studies for a panel discussion with Watson Fellows Livia Cox (‘22) and Inayah Bashir (‘20) on April 18th. The Watson Fellowship is a prestigious fellowship in which 41 universities, including Wesleyan, participate. Watson recipients must design an independent year-long project to pursue abroad. The two fellows shared their experiences developing their Watson project proposals and lessons learned since leaving the US last summer.

Although the Watson Fellowship usually takes place in the year following graduation, Inaya had to defer her award because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her Watson project is primarily focused on stories of wellness and spirituality across the African diaspora. This year, Inaya has spent time in Indonesia, Australia, Ghana, Morocco, and called in from Jamaica, where she is currently working at the University of the West Indies and engaging with several secondary schools. 

Livia’s Watson project explores the social, cultural, and political valences of pain. Her Watson year has led her to a wide range of countries so far,  including Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, and Mexico, with more to come.. As a Watson Fellow, Livia has studied pain in low-resource birthing centers, drug consumption rooms, and Buddhist monasteries. Livia is currently in London, England where she is working with a group of policy leaders to introduce progressive opioid policy reform. Upon returning to the US, she will be returning to Connecticut to pursue a Master’s in Public Health in health policy with a focus on global health.

Both fellows emphasized that this experience is challenging, but truly unique and life changing. Inaya and Livia have made amazing connections with people across the world and are excited to bring their stories and knowledge to their future work.

Current students considering applying for the Watson Fellowship: To watch a recording of the panel, email fellowships@wesleyan.edu for the Zoom link and password.