2012 graduate Nick Watson recognizes the many values of a Notre Dame education
Nick Watson, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2012 and is now a junior at the University of Chicago, said the value NDP placed on real “learning” has been tremendously beneficial for him in college.
He says that while his degree is an important goal and he looks forward to receiving it, the driving factor for him at Chicago is to learn as much as possible. And he credits his high school for much of that mentality.
“I think the mindset of placing an intrinsic value on learning itself is something that comes with growing up,” Watson said. “But I also feel that I started to develop this attitude toward the end of my time at NDP. It’s so easy to get caught up in focusing on the end product, whether it be getting an A in a class, or a degree, or a job. I’ve found that being able to learn something and think about how it applies to your life and how it can make you a better person is much more fulfilling than being driven by an external reward and going through the motions.”
Watson, who was a valedictorian when he graduated from high school, also credits Notre Dame for fine tuning his time-management skills. He played baseball at NDP and juggling that with a heavy load of academics turned out to be fortuitous for him, especially since he also plays ball for Chicago.
“I learned how to push myself academically and explore my extracurricular interests at the same time,” he said. “A large part of my experience at NDP was learning how to balance the time commitments of classes, playing sports, and being actively involved in school clubs.”
Playing college baseball, he said, while still prioritizing schoolwork came naturally for him thanks to NDP. “In addition, I found that the discussion-based International Baccalaureate classes I took in high school prepared me very well for similar classes in college.”
For example, he said, taking Theory of Knowledge, an IB course, with Notre Dame Head of School Fr. Leon Olszamowski, has given him an edge in understanding the philosophical arguments that persist in many of his college classes. “In addition to preparing me for specific class subjects,” Watson said, “the NDP curriculum helped me to develop an analytical framework that also has proved to be invaluable.”
An internship at satirical publication The Onion during his sophomore year at the University of Chicago also benefited from Watson’s NDP education. He said Notre Dame helped him realize initially how much he enjoyed writing.
“But part of what led me to apply at The Onion in the first place was how much fun I had writing satire for the NDP student newspaper,” Watson said. “As an intern at The Onion, I helped to analyze current events and presented research to the writing team every day.”
As much as he enjoys and excels at writing, however, he’s still got an open mind when it comes to career choice. He says the econ classes at NDP as well as the fact that he enjoys that subject led him to choose economics as a major at Chicago. It also led him to another internship this past summer when he worked at the Kresge Foundation in Troy with its investment team.
Watson misses his time at NDP and misses many former classmates and teachers. In fact, he would have liked to bring a few teachers with him to the Windy City.
“There were so many teachers at NDP who I will never be able to thank enough for their influence on me,” he said. “Notre Dame truly has so many exceptional faculty members, and I often wish they could take over some of my college classes. None of my math teachers here have the musical capabilities of Mr. McCaskey, for example, and I’ve yet to have an English teacher command a room like Mr. Butorac.”
ENSURING THE FUTURE
So, armed with such a great academic arsenal he received from Notre Dame and thankful for the head start it gave him in college, Watson said he wants to make sure others also benefit in the future.
“I feel that it’s important to support NDP after graduating because it helps ensure that the opportunities I was able to take advantage of will be available for future generations of students. I am very grateful for everything that NDP did for me and I look forward to being able to give back.”
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.