4-Year Football Letterman Emmanuel Whyte Wins Prestigious Watson Fellowship

Emmanuel Whyte '13
Emmanuel Whyte '13

Williams College seniors Abdullah Awad and Emmanuel Whyte have been named Thomas J. Watson Fellows for 2013-14. Winners of the fellowship receive $25,000 for a year of "independent, purposeful exploration and travel."

Awad and Whyte join 38 other students selected as Watson Fellows from among more than 700 candidates and 148 finalists. This year's fellows come from eight countries and 14 states and will be traversing the globe exploring a wide range of topics and disciplines.

Awad, a literary studies major from Amman, Jordan, will pursue a project titled "Exile, Queerness, and the Transformative Power of Art."

Whyte, an art and psychology major from Bennington, Vt., will use his Watson fellowship to pursue a project titled "Engaging the Gaze: Exploring Race, Identity, and Masculinity through an Artistic Lens." The work will take him to France, Ghana, and Japan, interacting with artists in different cultural contexts and examining questions of racial identity as he hones his own artistic abilities.

"My studies and my practice of visual art have opened up new ways to reflect on my life and the extraordinary circumstances that have allowed me to grow into the artist that I am today," says Whyte. "By visiting France, Ghana, and Japan, I aim to explore representations of blackness and black culture, maleness and masculinity. By creating visual commentaries through my artwork, I hope to discover answers to my questions."

Emmanuel Whyte '13

Raised with a Muslim background by an African-American single mother in a conservative Christian home, Whyte has long been interested in issues of identity and masculinity.

A four-year letterman in football, Whyte began as a defensive back and special teams player, but gradually moved into the role of a starting linebacker as a senior. Last fall Whyte started all eight games and finished second on the team in tackles with 57. He notched 32 solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, broke up five passes, intercepted one pass that he returned 14 yards, and recovered three fumbles.

While at Williams he has nurtured his practice and study of art, developed an interest in drawing, worked with children from underrepresented groups in a program called Responding to Arts Involves Self Expression and at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in a curatorial internship.

Of his Watson, Whyte says, "It's a huge honor, and it's great to be recognized for one of my true passions, which is art." Whyte says he's humbled to be in the company of his fellow recipients, "to realize that I'm among these great minds doing great projects."

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was established in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., who founded IBM, and his wife Jeannette K. Watson, as a way to honor their parents' longstanding interest in education and world affairs. More than 2,700 Watson Fellows have been named since the program's founding.

Last year, Lindsay Olsen '12, a member of the Williams women's crew team that won the NCAA Division III rowing title all four years Olsen was a team member, was named a Watson Fellow.