Undergraduate Fellows

Call Me Will

I’m the new guy. My name is Will Tucker and I’m currently a sophomore here at W&L. I come from Minneapolis, Minnesota (so I know what a cold winter feels like), and I’m currently the first Fellow to be admitted after 1st Semester–having not applied for the yearlong fellowship. I will be majoring in Politics with an emphasis in Political Philosophy, and while my minor has yet to be figured out, I hope to take a minor in German or even Digital Humanities–if DH gets approved as a minor in time for me to do so.

Politics and DH sound like an unlikely duo; however, I can assure you otherwise. The massive amount of data currently being demanded and processed by DC think tanks,  lobbying groups, the bureaucracy, the media, and the data that influences election-time decisions is at a high in this Digital Age. For example, one of the largest scandals of 2016’s election was the release of ~70,000 emails lifted from John Podesta (the campaign chair for Hillary Clinton) and published in full to WikiLeaks. What was inside the emails shocked many US citizens, and I am confident that the evidence of corruption put on WikiLeaks was on many minds inside the voting booths. My project this year will be focusing on this data, and I hope to be able to definitively say how corrupt the Clinton campaign really was. Perhaps the pandemonium induced by the emails actually carried more weight than the contents of the emails–or maybe the Clinton’s were just as corrupt as many thought.

I found DH this past fall through the advice of my academic advisor, Paul Youngman. Dr. Youngman suggested around mid-July that a new class was coming to W&L in the fall. It was called “Intro to Data in the Humanities”, and after reading the description I thought I had found a fun, easy way to get my Science FDR credit. I was very wrong. Within the first week, I was hooked on the opiate of making large projects on my computer. I was almost instantly addicted to the satisfaction that comes from getting a program to work that has been giving problems, to the pride of seeing a finished project–one that I started. It was because of this class that I found out about the Fellows program, and I couldn’t wait to start. Instead of waiting until May, I asked Ms. Brooks if I could do it starting 2nd semester–and here I am.

Here’s to a good next two years of this Fellowship.