HomepageNewsUrsinus Senior Nolan Earns Prestigious Watson Fellowship

Ursinus Senior Nolan Earns Prestigious Watson Fellowship

Joey Nolan ’24 will travel to five countries to engage with different forms of theater during his “Watson year” through a yearlong grant that allows recent college graduates to explore the world abroad.

Joey Nolan ’24 is taking his love of theater and the environment abroad.

The Ursinus College senior has been named to the 56th class of Thomas J. Watson Fellows, which provides a year of unparalleled international discovery to graduating college seniors from any discipline.

Through the lens of drama, Nolan will explore how different communities learn about and grapple with their ecological footprints, environmental crises, and aspirations for a sustainable future and a deeper connection to the Earth. He will travel to Japan, Greece, Bhutan, New Zealand, and Indonesia.

“I have never been out of the country so this will be a huge step for me, not only in my career, but in my personal journey of self-discovery and exploration,” Nolan said. “Theater and environmental studies are my two majors and have always been the central pillars of my life. They have always been interconnected in my mind and realizing that this project could be my way of merging them and investigating how they interact with one another only motivated me to pursue it more.”

“I want to prove that our connection to the Earth can be strengthened through changing the ways we communicate with each other and how we frame the environment in the oldest human tradition of storytelling,” he said.

Watson Fellows are nominated by 41 college and university partners across the United States. Fellows receive $40,000 for 12 months of travel and college loan assistance as needed. Since the inaugural class was named in 1969, more than 3,000 Watson Fellows have been selected.

This year’s cohort will collectively travel to 64 countries pursuing topics such as community-centered AI, agroforestry, end-of-life care, interfaith advocacy, and soundscapes. The 2024 class is made up of students from 17 states and three countries and exhibits a broad range of academic specialties, socio-economic backgrounds, and project diversity.

This marks the second straight year an Ursinus student has earned a Watson Fellowship. Last year, Paige Bristow ’23 was named a fellow. Tommy Armstrong ’20 and Grant Bullock ’20 also were recently chosen as fellows.

“I have always believed in theater as a force for social change,” Nolan said. “I’m hoping that what I learn in my travels I can bring back and use to make theater more sustainable and help to revitalize it as a way to help people connect with the world around them.”

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