Pitzer Spotlights

2003-2004 Spotlight Archives

Pitzer Senior Filiberto Nolasco Gomez Wins Prestigious Watson Fellowship

Filiberto Nolasco GomezCLAREMONT, Calif. (March 16, 2004) - Filiberto Nolasco Gomez, a Pitzer College senior, has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to pursue his project, "Education on the Margins: Pedagogy and Agency in Marginalized Communities." Filiberto's project will take him to Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa and Northern Ireland.

Filiberto is one of 50 college seniors nationwide to receive the fellowship, which funds a year of travel and independent inquiry outside the United States. Each fellow receives $22,000 for the year of travel and study.

"We look for people with the passion and creativity to find solutions, work effectively with people and generally weather the bad days on the road while treasuring the glorious ones," said Beverly Larson, the executive director of the Watson Fellowship Program. "The awards are long-term bets on people likely to lead or innovate, giving them unusual flexibility to set and pursue their own global agendas."

"I look forward to this amazing opportunity to interact with communities that are reforming education in their own terms motivated by a deep sense of social justice," Filiberto said. "I would also like to thank everyone for support and friendship."

Filiberto, who came from Montebello to attend Pitzer, designed his own major in education with an emphasis on sociopolitical pedagogies. A major component of his education was a trip abroad to the Pitzer in Venezuela External Studies program, where he completed an independent study project titled, "Community Power: Schools as Foci of Community."

Filiberto has a life-long concern for agency and self-determination and inclusion, a concern that found expression from his earliest days at the college -- in his support of the dining hall workers' campaign for improved working conditions, in his participation in the Chiapas Support Committee, in his working with the Student Peace Coalition, in his coordinating activities for the Pitzer Volunteer Group, in his working with children in the Jumpstart Program, in his tutoring children in the Upward Bound Program, in his service on the Faculty Executive Committee, the Academic Planning Committee, and the External Studies Committee, and, finally, in his term as President of the Student Senate, where he has modeled access and inclusion in his leadership of that organization, while demonstrating a deft hand at getting things done promptly and well," Pitzer Professor Jim Lehman said.

Since 1997, Pitzer students have won four Watson Fellowships, seven Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships, six Freeman Foundation Asia Fellowships, four American Sociological Association Minority Fellowships (the top among colleges and universities in the U.S.) and one Morris K. Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Summer Internship. Six Pitzer students won Fulbright Fellowships in 2003, a record for colleges with less than 1,000 students.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was begun in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM Corporation, and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents' longstanding interest in education and world affairs.