Brandon Saucedo Pita ’22 Earns Watson Fellowship
The sociology major will spend the year after his Haverford graduation traveling to five continents to learn about music in Mexican communities internationally.
Brandon Saucedo Pita ’22, a sociology major and growth and structure of cities minor, has been honored with a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which funds a year of “purposeful, independent exploration” and international travel for new college graduates. Saucedo Pita is one of 42 students from 28 states and 8 countries in the 54th class of Watson Fellows who, between them, will travel to 72 different countries next year for their independent research projects.
Saucedo Pita’s project, which will explore music in Mexican communities around the world, will take him to Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, and Spain. He aims to understand how music informs, challenges, and complicates the development and integration of Mexican communities. It is research that is informed not only by his personal experience growing up in one such community in Chicago, but that he is already deeply immersed in for his Haverford senior thesis on Mexican artists in Chicago’s underground rap scene.
“Music has always played an important role in my life,” said Saucedo Pita. “From the cumbia, and banda I listened to at family parties to the house and hip-hop records my older brother mixed on turntables in his bedroom, this art form has influenced my upbringing and sense of identity in important ways. Music, made by members of the Mexican diaspora, has become an important anchor in my life—it’s ultimately what keeps me grounded to my roots in places like Haverford College. In recent years, Mexican rap artists from Chicago’s Southside—such as LA Tone, Kadoee, Lil E, and King Ace—have been especially instrumental in helping me realize how important music, as cultural productions involving many cultural forms, is to the development of Mexican communities and diasporic identity formation.”
Over the course of his Watson year, he hopes to explore the role the music he loves plays in the development of these communities and to, therefore, better understand how Mexican identity develops around the globe.
At Haverford, Saucedo Pita is a student leader and a busy and highly involved member of the community. He’s been a four-year board member for the Alliance of Latin American Students, an intern for the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), the head intern for the Access and Diversity Initiatives team at the Office of Admission, a FLI Student Leader in the Chesick Scholars Program, a student worker at the Nest, the student-run campus food pantry. As part of his work for the OMA, he is researching Latinx student history at Haverford and serving as a member of the Equity and Inclusivity Taskforce, a subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. He applied for the Watson Fellowship, inspired by the accomplishments of the student leaders that came before him and mentored him.
“It all really started my first year, when Maurice Rippel ’19, Jhoneidy Javier '19, and Seanna Viechweg ’19 secured the Watson, Princeton In Asia, and Fulbright fellowships respectively,” he said. “These were all students I looked up to and had the privilege of learning from—watching them secure these amazing opportunities helped construct the scaffolding for my interest in applying to the Watson. Their examples—and the successes of the many other close friends and mentors I've made along the way—have ultimately played the most important roles in motivating me to apply.”
After his year abroad, Saucedo Pita hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology, where he can continue his academic investigations in immigration, culture, social movements, and identity development. In the meantime, he is working on his thesis and busy with his many campus commitments, but has also managed to find a little bit of time to celebrate the accomplishment of being selected for the highly competitive Watson Fellowship.
“It all felt, and still feels, very surreal,” he said. “It was totally unexpected. Even though I've already started celebrating with close friends and family, the full weight of the decision still hasn’t settled on me…. My excitement [has grown] more and more everyday since I was selected as a 2022 fellow.”