Jennifer Lawton claims Watson Fellowship

Jennifer Lawton of the Class of 2001 has been awarded a $22,000 fellowship by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation for a one-year independent research project entitled "Dancing the Gypsy Trail: the Evolution of Flamenco Dance." She will pursue her studies in India, Morocco, Spain, and Turkey, tracing the roots and development of flamenco dance over centuries and across cultures.

During her year-long studies, for which the only requirements are brief quarterly reports and a five-page paper at the year's end, Lawton will be responsible for making all of her own travel and lodging arrangements.

Lawton, a twenty-one-year-old native of River Forest, Illinois, was one of sixty winners announced on March 15. She was chosen from a field of more than one thousand applicants from fifty selective private liberal-arts colleges and universities. Students must first be nominated by their college or university before competing on the national level. This marks the second consecutive Watson winner from Kenyon. Benjamin D. Bagocius '00 is now finishing his year-long study of gender and figure skating in Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and Sweden.

"I've wanted to apply for a Watson ever since my freshman year," says Lawton, who is completing a synoptic major in American studies. "When I heard about it, I knew it was something I wanted to apply for. The Watson asks you to pursue your greatest passion in life, and dance has been a part of my life since the age of three. It defines many things about me. This is an opportunity I've always dreamed of."

During her year of study, Lawton will attend festivals, take classes, research techniques, interview instructors and students, and observe the gender roles reflected in the dances of different cultures. While Lawton is nearly fluent in French, her travels abroad are limited.

"It's terrifying," says Lawton of the year she will spend traveling by herself. "The rules stipulate that I can't return home during the year. It's scary, but it's also exciting and liberating. There are no training wheels for me this time. It's a bigger challenge than I've ever faced, with potentially bigger rewards."