We continue our series of interviews with Clark’s graduates of the last decade (GOLD). We caught up with Dale Watt to find out what’s been happening since he left the Clark campus.
When did you graduate, and what did you do at Clark?
I graduated from Clark twice — as an undergrad in May 2017, and as a master’s student in GIS for development and environment in May 2019.
As to what I did, it was many, many things — some good, some bad, some only worthy of Purgatory. I was a GIS tutor (good), a Student Council member (bad), and a safety escort driver (like working in Purgatory four nights a week).
What was your favorite class at Clark?
A lot of candidates come to mind, but top of the list would have to be Environment and Society, with Professor James McCarthy. I came into Clark as a physics major and never intended to be anything else, but took one geography class as a whim my first semester. That class set me on the course I am today: a full-time geographer and GIS nerd. Well, I was always a nerd, but now I’m paid for it. Movin’ on up!
Where are you now? What have you been up to?
I’m in Duluth, Minnesota, working for The Nature Conservancy. It’s a fantastic conservation organization, and I feel lucky to be here. But only part of it was luck — some of it was teachers, some of it was friends, some of it was mentors and classmates and boring textbooks.
As to what I’ve been up to — like many of us, I was up to quite a lot before COVID came through. Playing in an orchestra, playing volleyball, trying sundry dating apps, each whizzier than the last. More recently, I’ve been playing a lot of chess with old friends. Chess has got some staying power; it and the Catholic Church have been very influential over the last 2000 years. Good for them.
Can you chat more about your volunteering experiences?
I do love to volunteer, though generally only at things I already have some skills in.
In high school, I taught cello, and learned in two hours per week just how hard it is to teach, and how much harder it must be to handle 20 students at a time, 40 hours per week.
In Duluth, I spent a lot of time volunteering at the Damiano Center. It’s a soup kitchen and pantry, and I went each Sunday to cook some meals from 1 to 5, service till 6. Made some friends and had some good hot dinners. I miss the people there, and I’m looking forward to going back when I’m vaccinated. They’re limiting themselves to professional staff just now, understandably, but they say donations have never been higher. People give what they can.
Have you been developing any new skills or hobbies during the pandemic?
I’ve started a screenplay, a novel, and a painting, and finished none of them. All three are great in my head, though, so it’s just a question of getting them down on paper. That’s the easy part, right?
What advice do you have for current Clarkies looking to grow their technical skillset?
There’s nothing like actual experience. Even professionals spend a lot of time googling, so beat back that imposter syndrome and go find someone to offer your services to. Call a nonprofit and see what you can do for them. Get paid if you can or treat it as a volunteer service. But you’ll never learn faster than when you’ve promised someone you like that you’ll work on something you care about. Classes can be helpful, but the best way to do more is to do more.
Emilee Cocuzzo ’18, MBA ’19, is a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. She is currently one of the Class of 2018 representatives on the GOLD Council.