Senior women's basketball player Shneeka Center '14 has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (TJW) to extend her studies beyond graduation from Davidson College. Center was chosen from a pool of more than 700 candidates from 21 states and six countries. She is among 43 individuals chosen for the 46th class of Watson Fellows.
The TJW Fellowship, awarded through the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, is a one-year grant for independent study and travel outside the United States awarded to graduating college seniors nominated by participating institutions. It offers college graduates of "unusual promise" a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel – in international settings new to them – to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness and leadership, and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community. Each fellow receives a $28,000 stipend.
Center will travel to Sweden, India, Senegal and Peru to study and research the topic of female social mobility through sport.
"My project strives to examine how participation in athletics is enabling females to positively or negatively influence their position in society," said Center, who will graduate in May from Davidson with a degree in political science. "My Watson year will take me to four locations where sports are providing girls with unique opportunities to change their social standing. I aim to answer case-specific questions and uncover the methods by which sports have an influence on girls' lives worldwide."
Center, who recently finished her senior season with the Wildcat women's basketball program, was a four-year letter winner. She played in 88 career games, including a career-best 31 during her senior campaign. Center averaged a personal-best 7.5 points in her final season and hauled in more than five rebounds a game, also a career-high.
"The Davidson community is proud of Shneeka and thankful that she will have the opportunity to follow her passion," said head coach Michele Savage. "We look forward to following her travels – she will represent Davidson well."
Center becomes the 74th Davidson College student to receive a Watson Fellowship.
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 Corp., widely known as IBM. The Foundation initially used its resources in support of a variety of programs. In 1968, in recognition of the Watsons' long-standing interest in education and world affairs, their children – Helen W. Buckner, John N. Irwin II, Arthur K. Watson and Thomas J. Watson Jr. – decided that the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program should constitute a major activity of the Foundation. Since that date, the Fellowship Program has granted more than 2,700 Watson Fellowship awards, with stipends totaling more than $29 million.