“Q&A with…” is a series dedicated to introducing staff members to the Oberlin community. We are highlighting one staff member each week. Have someone you'd like to nominate for a Q&A? Please get in touch.
Bara Watts, director of entrepreneurship, joined the office of Creativity and Leadership in April 2017. Watts oversees academic courses, experiential learning opportunities, and initiatives such as LaunchU, Oberlin’s annual startup accelerator, boot camp, and pitch competition.
Get to know more about Watts in this Q&A.
Describe your role in six words
Impacting the world by training entrepreneurs.
What's your passion?
My passion is driving opportunities that have a positive impact on individuals, community, and our environment. As a citizen of this planet and a member of humanity, I am energized when I feel I am providing some small positive contribution every day.
What’s the best advice someone gave you?
The best advice I've received is "Don't give up before the miracle." Two aspects of my life have presented me significant challenges. I love trying to tackle what seems to be impossible, and I have faced some personal tragedies. There have been times when I wanted to give up. But remembering this advice, I was able to forge ahead and receive amazing miracles.
What’s the last book you read?
The most recent book was A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. After traveling to Stockholm this past March, I've been focused on reading Swedish or Nordic authors. This was a charming story with a witty bit of black humor—which I love. There were times I laughed out loud, and I must admit I cried at the end. Totally worth the read.
Have you had a brush with anyone famous?
When I was in college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., I had a "Forrest Gump" experience. I had a roommate who was working for Midge Costanza, top aide to President Jimmy Carter. I would occasionally meet my roommate for lunch at the White House. One time, while eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I witnessed President Carter and Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, walking and talking on the White House grounds. Of course, it was around the time that Presidents Carter and Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin developed the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
My undergraduate degree is in dance. Following college, I went to New York where I founded a dance school and small dance company and choreographed for organizations like the Japanese broadcasting company. I also had a night club singing act with my partner Rene Greyer. We sang swing music in tight harmony and were called Watts-Greyer.
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