Posted April 15, 2003 Atlanta
Communications and Marketing
Contact David Terraso
To Nate Watson, politics isn't a dirty word, it's a calling. A double major in Public Policy and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Watson is preparing himself for a life in public service. So far, he's off to a good start. He's spent the past two years as the executive vice president of Tech's Student Government Association and now he's won both the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship and the presidency of Tech's Student Government Association.
I believe in getting involved in the leadership of your community, wherever you are," said Watson.
While at Tech, the 21-year-old junior has done his best to get as much experience as he can in public life. In addition to his work on the SGA, Watson has interned for U.S. Congressman John Linder, Georgia State Senator Steve Thompson and the Georgia General Assembly. That's time well spent, given his career choice: U.S. congressman and environmental policymaker.
"I feel a lot of the time that politics has a dirty name," said Watson. "I want to do my best to restore people's faith in politics. If we can focus on the issues, I believe we can do that."
According to Watson, he's "definitely not a liberal."
"I support smaller government, however, I believe individuals need to take leadership of their communities. There is a lot they can do of their own free will," he explained.
Free will, the power of markets and environmental protection are three things Watson said he's passionate about. "I first became interested in protecting the environment while I was a Boy Scout. Then, in 1999 I went to Honduras as part of a mission trip. I saw the tremendous water problems they had there and then came back to Georgia to see the water problems we're having here," he said. But, rather than have government issue strict environmental controls on industry that could have dire consequences for the economy, the power of the market can be used to give incentives to industries to control pollution, Watson said.
"Protecting our environmental and economic resources go together," he said. "I believe we can use market-based ideas to improve the environment." These ideas include emissions trading, in which companies are given credits representing the amount of pollution they are allowed to emit. Companies, that don't use all of their credits can sell them to other companies. This keeps the net amount of pollution the same, but because polluting has a cost associated with it, the idea is that some companies will have incentives to reduce their output.
Watson is full of ideas, which should serve him well during a life in politics. One of his major goals for the SGA is getting the Board of Regents to approve an academic bill of rights in May. The bill, which has been several years in the making, would guarantee rights to students such as the right to get a syllabus, the right to see professors during office hours and the right to have class only during scheduled times.
Watson is one of 76 Scholars selected from 635 national candidates nominated for the Truman award. Each scholarship provides $30,000 - $3,000 for the senior year and $27,000 for two or three years of graduate study. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to the 33rd president of the United States. The foundation awards scholarships for college students to attend graduate school in preparation for careers in government or elsewhere in public service. Scholars are selected for outstanding leadership potential, communication skills, academic achievement, and a commitment to public service.
The scholarship isn't the first honor Watson has won at Tech. As an incoming freshman, he won the President's Scholarship, the Institute's most prestigious scholarship, which is given to freshman who demonstrate leadership in their community and academic excellence.