Former HBCU Track Star Named Fulbright Scholar
By Perry Green and Maurice Berry, AFRO
Former Morgan State University track star Dakari Taylor-Watson was recently named a Fulbright scholar and will be heading to Terengganu, Malaysia, for 10 months next January to teach English to secondary school students.
Taylor-Watson, who earned a degree in biology from MSU in 2009, was chosen by the international educational exchange program. The program is sponsored by the State Department based on academic merit and leadership potential to study and teach abroad.
The 23-year-old told the AFRO that he will also volunteer in a hospital or clinic while in Malaysia, and has plans of applying to medical school when he returns to the United States. As for spending nearly a year away in a foreign country, it’s not something Watson hasn’t experienced before. He moved to Paris for three weeks as an exchange student when he was 10, not long after his mother, Aisya Taylor-Watson, died of cancer. Taylor-Watson believes his mother’s spirit travels with him everywhere he goes.
“I know she’s looking down at me, everything I do, smiling — disapproving of some stuff, and then I go back and change it up,” he once told the Daily Press. “She’ll be with me. She doesn’t have a choice.”
Aisya will now travel with Dakari as he takes another step closer to reaching his longtime goal of practicing in the field of science and medicine. His father, Robert Watson, told the AFRO that studying science runs in the family blood.
“I’m a history professor, but I also have a [bachelor’s of science] in chemistry and one of my nieces has a degree in physics, while another niece majored in biology,” said Watson, who currently teaches African-American history at Hampton University and is considered by his colleagues as an authority on the African Diaspora. “I believe that’s one of the main reasons he’s so intrigued with the field.”
Professor Watson said witnessing his mother’s illness may have also influenced his son’s interest in science. “Being old enough to witness that may have inspired him to be a part of saving or improving others’ lives,” Watson said. “I’m very impressed with Dakari’s desire to be exceptional in ways that won’t just impact himself, but others around him. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if he would touch into the ministry field as well. He is really tuned into improving the conditions of others.”