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Reed Student Wins Prestigious Watson Fellowship


Cole Perkinson

Collin “Cole” Perkinson ’13 has been awarded a $25,000 Watson Fellowship to study traditional music in Africa. Perkinson is a 2009 graduate of Catlin Gabel School in Portland and is currently a senior chemistry student at Reed College.

The Watson Year provides fellows with an opportunity to test their aspirations, abilities, and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

Perkinson’s yearlong quest will bring him to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Ghana where he will study various styles of traditional music. In addition to learning from traditional-style musicians, Perkinson will connect and perform with bands that play modern music. He hopes to study how the traditional music influences the modern popular music in each region.

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 as a charitable trust by Mrs. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., in honor of her late husband, the founder of International Business Machines (IBM). In 1968, in recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Watson's long-standing interest in education and world affairs, their children decided that the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program should constitute a major activity of the Foundation.

The Oregonian added a video of Cole playing at Portland's Saturday Market.