W&L’s Christopher Watt ’21 Awarded Fulbright Grant Watt has received a Fulbright grant to support his research on the importance of small-scale fishing for livelihoods, culture and well-being in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific.
Washington and Lee University graduate Christopher Watt ’21 has received a Fulbright grant to support his research on the importance of small-scale fishing for livelihoods, culture and well-being in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. Watt majored in economics and double minored in poverty studies and environmental studies.
Watt will leave for Vanuatu in October and plans to spend ten months in fishing communities interviewing individuals about their fishing practices and how these activities impact their lives.
At W&L, Watt served as key staff in the Outing Club and as a peer counselor. He spent much of his free time outdoors, fly-fishing in Buffalo Creek and trail running on the Appalachian Trail. He was also a member of the Reformed University Fellowship and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. Watt credits Howard Pickett, director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability and associate professor of ethics and poverty studies, as a “great encourager” during his time on campus.
“Christopher is a constant reminder to follow your passions, to wear them on your sleeve and to learn as much as you can from others along the way,” Pickett said. “He also reminds us that our greatest contributions often come when we combine our many different passions together in surprising ways. When I first met him, Christopher told me he was passionate about environmental studies, poverty alleviation and fishing. Little did we know that four years later, he would combine the three as a Fulbright.”
Jon Eastwood, professor of sociology and chair of the department of sociology and anthropology, also served as a mentor in environmental studies and conservation for Watt during his time on campus. Eastwood inspired Watt to apply for a Fulbright grant.
“Christopher is one of those students who lights up a room when he enters it, who knows how to pull people together into common projects, who listens carefully and respectfully to others and who thrives on building and strengthening relationships. He is a quintessential Fulbrighter,” Eastwood said.
After he returns to the United States, Watt plans to continue seeking opportunities at the intersection of conservation and sustainable development.
“My hope is to return to school to get a master’s degree in environmental studies and economics or fisheries management a few years down the road,” Watt said. “I am deeply grateful for my time at W&L and the professors who have fostered my interdisciplinary passions. The relationships with friends and other community members nurtured in the Shenandoah Valley have enabled me to ask big questions of the world, pushed me to embrace new and exciting experiences and instilled in me the confidence to pursue my passions boldly after graduation. I will always find a home in Lexington.”
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