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William Watson, Cohort 11, spoke of his Rainier Scholars journey at the 2017 Bricks & Books auction, co-hosted with Skanska.

Good evening. My name is William Watson, and like Jayda, I am a proud Rainier Scholar. I am a junior at The Bush School and this past summer I served as a student advisor during the Academic Enrichment Phase. School has always been something I enjoyed. Like an athlete, I was always training; training my mind with aspirations to be my best self in the classroom. My training journey started with me being a diamond in the rough, but still a diamond.

Unlike Jayda, time management was NOT my thing. In fact – a true confession – I used to spend a great deal of my time figuring out how to do the minimum amount to just get by, only justifying this to teachers by explaining to them how I honestly had a full grasp on their material even when my effort did not reflect it. To this day I still struggle with time management but only because now I find myself in this juggling act including; school, clubs, sports, and family. I don’t believe I’m alone in facing this struggle.

I think Rainier Scholars moved me out of my comfort zone. I was challenged academically, given expectations almost too high to reach. After the Academic Enrichment Phase I went back to middle school just coasting along. This was until I decided I wanted to attend an independent high school. I knew part of my acceptance would be my grades. With this knowledge I knew from the start of my 8th grade year I would have to internalize the core values of Rainier Scholars and put my best foot forward. This was a valuable lesson – it showed me that all of my accomplishments would be directly connected to the work I put in. I decided that I was going to invest in myself, which would ultimately lead to opportunities in the future.

Jayda mentioned our founder Bob Hurlbut and I also carry his words of wisdom with me. He explained that many things in life are not just about luck but rather when “preparation meets opportunity.” I believe I had prepared myself for the opportunity to attend a private school. Without Rainier Scholars I would not be at Bush, and for that matter I would not be thinking about college. I’m am a young Black male who was raised by his grandparents and grew up in the south end of Seattle. I will be the first one in my family to go to college.

If there was a theme to my life it would be defying the odds. Statistically I have been breaking the norms of what a young black male who grew up in a single parent home with a family who did not have access to further education is supposed to look like. Without Rainier Scholars, I would be one of those statistics that Ms. Smith mentioned. Instead I have access to opportunities I never imagined. During my second semester of my junior year, I will be traveling to Washington DC and attending the School for Ethics and Global Leadership. It will be an opportunity to learn and grow in hopes of becoming the leader I envision myself as.

My training journey continues, and in a sense has just begun. Tomorrow I will be 17, I’m sure some of you here are thinking about what you would do if you were 17 again. With a year away from entering the adult world, I continue to invest in myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. My juggling act has only become more complex, I have 7 classes, play 3 sports, and lead two clubs. I am part of my school’s student body government, attend a local church, I have a role as an advisor with Rainier Scholars, an internship with The Greater Foundation, and let’s not forget about my social life, oh and that’s right! I still need to perfect my time management.

Thank you.