Charity Watson Challenges Students to Find ‘Real Success’

Watson talks to Notre Dames journalism class.

Watson talks to Notre Dame’s journalism class.

Deidre Bellmore, Staff Writer

By sharing her life story of helping others, NDA alum Charity Watson spoke to NDA students on Friday, October 23, about the real meaning of success.

Watson, a 2007 graduate, has dedicated herself to traveling over the world to help the less fortunate.

“Do one thing everyday that scares you,” said Watson. This attitude became a coping mechanism for her after her high school struggles and then becoming disillusioned with the college scene.

In high school, Watson said she struggled with depression and an eating disorder that severely affected her life.

“You never know what’s going on in the life in the person next to you. Be kind to everyone; it can make a difference. There’s a lot of power in being nice and saying hello,” said Watson.

Watson went to the University of Colorado to study in the medical field. During her years in Colorado she began to hike and mountain climb.

The mountain climbing led her to find peace in her life and then she decided she wanted to make a difference for people in the world.

Watson later traveled to the countries of Rwanda and Uganda, Africa, for a semester to study and help the people that suffered in the Rwandan Massacre of 1994 where one million people were killed in 100 days.

Watson traveled to both countries and visited the many memorials dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the genocide.

“It’s never too late to create change. There might be horror in this world, but when I was there I saw the redemption in the people that survived,” said Watson.

Watson lived with the people there and continued to study in Uganda and Rwanda, and eventually graduated with a degree in peace and conflict.

“The biggest thing I learned in that trip is that education isn’t from a class or a book. It’s from your experiences,” she said.

She then returned to the United States with a balance of $54.60 in her bank account, but argued that money was not what she found successful in her life.

Watson said, “It’s not about how much money you end up with in your bank account. In today’s world, people define success by how many things you have or how rich you are, but for me, my success is what I learned from experiences in my life.”

Upon her return home she decided to become certified as a yoga instructor and used yoga as a therapy for people with mental/emotional problems, such as depression and PTSD, in less fortunate places, such as Uganda.

She said she lived in Colorado for only a short time until her friend who is a filmmaker in Uganda for a documentary show asked her to help the crew, which Watson agreed to do and spent the past two and a half years filming in Uganda.

“My travels tired me out. When my friend asked for help, I almost refused because I was so worn out from all the work in Africa in the past years. You can learn anything, but you first have to learn how to take care of yourself,” said Watson.

However, she traveled to many other diverse places such as Nepal where she stayed at an Everest Base Camp and recently visited Pakistan.

Watson left the audience with the question, “How do you measure success?” That question, she said,  should challenge everyone to make a difference in the world.

“The only way to grow is to be out of your comfort zone,” said Watson.