Nathaniel Livingston ’14
Nathaniel Livingston ’14

Nathaniel Livingston ’14 and Alyson Raynor ’14, candidates for May graduation from Hamilton, have been awarded prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for 2014-15. Livingston’s project is titled “Performing Culture: Contemporary Expressions of Oral and Musical Traditions,” and  Raynor’s is “The Path of Rehabilitation and Reintegration: Exploring the Lives of Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors.”

The two Hamilton seniors were among 43 national winners of the Fellowships. From nearly 700 candidates, 150 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level. Each fellow receives $28,000 for a year of travel and exploration outside the U.S.

In his proposal Livingston, a creative writing/English concentrator, wrote, “As modern humans, we digest music at a much greater rate than we used to before the advent of technologies of mass communication.  Oral tradition and song were once the strongest method of cultural transmission among communities.  Now is a unique time on Earth where the old traditions passed down orally from generation to generation still thrive, but where that musical space is shared with the pervasive presence of popular music across the globe via the Internet and radio. Oral traditions and music, rooted in the soils of heritage and local identity, stand out more than ever as signifiers of a unique way of life far removed from the modern milieu of music accessed via email or web-link. 

“This project will bring me places where oral and musical traditions are performed, continuing a legacy that spans centuries. I will also experience music that is contemporary in creation and style but references the history and tradition inherited from centuries of oral tradition and human communication.  I will attempt to forge a contemporary expression connected to a traditional past through my own musical engagement with the unique instruments of that culture.” 

Livingston will travel to Finland and attend the Sommelo Music Festival; and Scotland, because of the vast influence of its well-documented song tradition and storyteller culture on modern music. He will visit India as home to traditions of oral culture, song and ritual that are integrated in unique and region-specific ways into the social, artistic and religious fabric of the everyday lives of its people.

Livingston will conclude his trip in Senegal , which “creates a positive music culture that is central to community and national identity.  Senegal embraces musical styles from its past, including the Griot tradition, and international styles such as hip hop and jazz.” 

Livingston was the recipient of a 2013 Emerson Research Grant, “Performing the Poetics of Music.” In 2012 he conducted independent ethnographic research on the Oneida Indians of Central New York for a Hamilton Bicentennial archaeology film project.  He composed two songs and was a pit musician for  the student Untitled@Large,  is violinist with the Hamilton College Orchestra, and competes in bagpipe solo and band competitions. Livingston volunteered with No More Deaths in the Sonora Desert providing humanitarian aid for 2013 spring break; he is an e-board member for Red Weather, the campus literary magazine; and writes for The Spectator.

Raynor, an interdisciplinary studies: medical humanities and health studies concentrator, will research the rehabilitation of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). She is a TBI survivor, the result of a horse-riding accident when she was 11-years-old.   In her proposal she wrote, “Time being relative, the future unpredictable, and much worth exploring, the opportunity to walk along-side, sit by, speak with, and ultimately meet traumatic brain injury survivors would allow me to explore the people and the process that fascinates me.

“As a TBI survivor, I am compelled to explore the rehabilitation processes of survivors around the world. I will join them in their daily experiences to understand the journey of recovery. I’ll spend time in rehabilitation programs – day therapy, community re-entry, school re-entry and vocational directions.

“My project explores how different countries address the complex challenges faced by survivors, including re-integration into society and how cultural context either helps or hinders this process. I will follow the path of rehabilitation: from hospital to society, investigating the people, experiences and processes that fall between. I will focus on survivors from adolescent through adulthood because they comprise the most at risk population.

“I am searching to gain understanding rather than definitive answers regarding the complexities of rehabilitation. My path leads me to countries with distinct approaches to rehabilitation. These countries identify TBI as a public health concern and embrace the challenge and value of assisting survivors in their transition into society. Sweden, France, India and New Zealand have implemented various evidence-based programs and services that have TBI survivors as the focus and measure of success. These countries attempt to bridge the gaps from physiological stability to society reintegration to personal fulfillment. They have adopted innovative means that function effectively in their respective cultural foundations.”

Raynor will interview healthcare providers, including specialists in brain injury rehabilitation and physical, occupational and recreational therapy.

A Dean’s List student, Raynor studied in Copenhagen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad ; she is an intern at the Bristol Campus Center, curriculum coordinator and a member of Young People’s Project for math literacy at a school in Utica; and a member of Hamilton’s Club Equestrian team.

Livingston is the son of Jennifer and Craig Livingston of The Woodlands, Texas, and a graduate of The Woodlands High School.  Raynor is the daughter of Sandra Raynor (Rafner)’80, P’14 of Indianapolis, and the late Karl J Raynor ’80, P ’14.  She is a graduate of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

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., (IBM). The Foundation initially used its resources in support of a variety of programs. In 1968, in recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Watson's long-standing interest in education and world affairs, their children 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.

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