A Learning Laboratory

ASUCD president Mariah Watson speaks during the New Student Celebration in the Pavilion on Monday, September 21, 2015.
ASUCD president Mariah Watson speaks during the New Student Celebration in the Pavilion on Monday, September 21, 2015.
ASUCD is a home and laboratory for recent past president Mariah Watson
By Laura Pizzo

ASUCD’s first African-American female president Mariah Watson ’16’s first shining moment as a leader came in the 8th grade. She gave the culmination speech as the treasurer of her school’s student leadership group, after which the moderator called her “the woman most likely to rule the world.”

While Watson hasn’t achieved that status just yet, she is one of the most influential student leaders at UC Davis, having been responsible for running the student-led nonprofit organization, where she has gained access to the state capital and countless opportunities to participate in university decisions.

“ASUCD is a learning laboratory, which I love,” Watson said. “I learned how to communicate across differences, write a $13 million budget, and to be an advocate for a large constituency.”

Watson noted that ASUCD has taught her that flexibility and communication are her greatest assets as a leader. These qualities help her negotiate without losing mutual respect, such as when she needs to voice unpopular opinions or hold people accountable for the good of the university.

“In ASUCD, you’re in a room with people who will not agree with you, and from it you’ll learn about different leadership styles, different backgrounds, and so much more,” she said.

Watson, whose term as president ended in early March, has been involved in ASUCD and other student organizations as long as she’s been at UC Davis. She has served as an ASUCD senator, ethnic and cultural affairs commissioner, peer educator at the Cross Cultural Center, and was a key player in the founding of the new Center for African Diaspora Student Success.

“Since my first quarter, ASUCD has been my home away from home and a life coach in a many respects,” said Watson, who is considering law school after graduation this spring. “I’ve made friendships here that will last a lifetime.”

During her term, Watson helped establish the ASUCD Legacy Fund, an endowment that will allow ASUCD officers to participate in leadership development opportunities. She was also the first to donate to the fund.

“It has been my greatest joy at UC Davis to serve the student body and positively impact their lives, and I wanted to extend that impact beyond my time on campus,” she said. “Also, I hope my donation of $100 will encourage others to give to the endowment as well.”