The prestigious Watson Fellowship provides funding to travel the world in pursuit of a dream project to 47 graduating college students annually. This year, the Fellow winners include Mayra Tenorio, a graduate of Cristo Rey’s Class of 2011 and a senior at Swathmore College.
Tenorio’s successful proposal, “Daughter of Women: Chronicling Our Survival,” will take her across the world to listen to stories of survival in various contexts that resonate for and inspire her.
“For my Watson year, I will be transformed by listening to women’s stories of survival,” Tenorio of Beach Park, told the Swathmore College newspaper. “I will explore in depth how women in different social, political, economic, and social contexts ensure their survival each and every day [and] hope to learn what are their survival strategies for overcoming hardship.”
Tenorio will live among migrant women trying to create new homes for their families in Spain, Dominican women who survived domestic and intimate partner violence, self-employed Peruvian women who work in Lima’s outdoor markets, Argentinian women using feminism on the ground to resist paternalistic politics, and indigenous women leading environmental justice and human rights movements in Canada.
“While many might see the topic of ‘survival’ as imbued with hopelessness, for me survival is embedded with possibility,” she says. “Women’s survival stories propel me forward and remind me of the incredible potential that lies within all of us.”
“All of these struggles are also mine,” says Tenorio, “and I want to survive them with the other women.” She deems the project “inherently personal,” stemming from her experiences at home.
“My success and my spirit have flourished out of the battleground that has been my mother’s life,” says Tenorio. “I have been woven together by the smiles, tears, strength, laughs, wounds, and tenacious hope my mother and all of the women who have touched my life have shared with me.”
The Watson Fellow gives $28,000 grants to “graduates of unusual promise.” The foundation fans fellows across the globe to “enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.”
“I am ready to learn and be humbled, to cherish every aspect of my journey, and to celebrate all of the amazing women I meet,” she says. “This is a year of transformation, and I am ready to undergo exactly that.”