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Outstanding Graduate, Fall 2023

Samuel Smith Watson

Samuel Smith Watson remembers from his youth how his family stressed the importance of a good education.

His father is a first-generation college graduate with a master’s degree in civil engineering. His mother is an elementary school teacher.

“They impressed upon me their love of learning and the importance of creating options for my future by obtaining a college degree,” Watson says.

He also recalls as a teenager having an interest in chemical engineering “ignited by an unforgettable and zealous high school teacher and former NASA scientist.”

By the eighth grade, Watson had spent a week as a Barrett Summer Scholar, engaging in college-level coursework at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

“That experience led me to pursue becoming a Sun Devil,” he says.

At ASU, Watson went on to earn major scholarships and academic awards while participating in academic fellowship programs to help enhance his education.

Earning a New American University Scholarship, an ASU President’s Award and a Beus Family Scholarship enabled Watson to take advantage of the educational opportunities ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College provided.

He expanded his horizons by taking classes in economics and finance and developing professional connections in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He also became a member of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the ASU Student Economics Association and the ASU Vietnamese Student Association.

Most recently, Watson received ASU’s Moeur Award for undergraduates with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 over eight consecutive fall and spring semesters.

Watson recalls two especially edifying experiences: a business and industrial engineering course taught by Fulton Schools Assistant Teaching Professor Ali Kucukozyigit and a capstone project course taught by Fulton Schools Professor Gregory Raupp. Through those courses, Watson says he gained enlightening insights into the real-world connections between engineering, economics, business management and teamwork. 

He is now awaiting his induction into Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society and has been named not only this semester’s Fulton Schools outstanding undergraduate in chemical engineering but also an outstanding undergraduate in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Watson will now be concurrently awarded degrees from chemical engineering, economics and Asian studies programs.

“I have been inspired to look at the world from an engineer’s point of view, focusing on things that need to be fixed and trying to be a part of the solution,” he says. “Engineering has helped me realize that any problem can be solved with enough effort and creative thinking.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ Fall 2023 class here.

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