Gillian Frew
Media Relations

Spokane Resident Cameron Conner Receives Watson Fellowship

Walla Walla, WA (May 1, 2020) – Spokane native Cameron Conner, a senior at Whitman College, will have the chance to travel the world and pursue knowledge thanks to an award from the Watson Foundation.

A rhetoric and politics double-major, he is a recipient of the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

“The aim of the Watson is to give newly minted graduates of unusual promise a full year of discovery anywhere but in the safety of home – the U.S. There’s liberty but also responsibility in this,” said Keith Raether, director of the Office of Fellowships and Grants. “The fellowship privileges the exercise of the imagination, but it also puts self-reliance to a huge test. Can you navigate the world entirely on your own for a year? The journey is solitary and at the same time communal through the experience of new cultures.”

Conner will spend his year exploring the ways different communities come together to meet the needs of all members and build well-being. Conner has been passionate about community-building activities since his youth – he’s a certified EMT, worked as a high school wrestling coach, and was a resident advisor and student academic advisor at Whitman. He was raised splitting his time between Spokane and Nepal, where his parents work with refugees. In 2014, Conner helped co-found the nonprofit Conscious Connections Foundation with his parents.

Last year, Conner was recognized for his community service with the Newman Civic Fellowship awarded by the national nonprofit Campus Compact. For the past year, he has been an intern for the city of Walla Walla, organizing the Walla Walla Neighborhood Engagement Program.

During his Watson, Conner will take his community building experience abroad to study very different approaches to community wealth building. He will visit communities in the United Kingdom, Peru, Spain and Mongolia.

“It ranges from how to build really intimate relationships in a remote, rural area; to how can a large corporation function in this global system; to how can we then fight for these systems, as individuals, as collectives, as social movements, working toward a sustainable future,” Conner said.

Travel restrictions and concerns around COVID-19 may delay Conner from embarking on his trips immediately after graduating from Whitman this May. However, he continues to remain in contact with partners in other countries and hopes to get on the road as soon as he is able to do so safely.


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Cameron Conner