Daniel Watts grew up in Lilburn, Georgia where he was a member of the National Honor Society among many other honorary clubs, but his passion was soccer. “I loved soccer more than anything,” he said. “Being a part of a team and competing against some of the best in the game taught me a lot more than how to win. It taught me about dedication, hard work and working with others to reach a goal.”
Through his soccer play, Daniel built lasting friendships that he says will last a lifetime, but he also took every opportunity to share his faith with his teammates and others. “I grew up a ‘missionary kid,’ so I was always comfortable living what I believed, but soccer allowed me to share my story with people outside of my comfort zone.”
Upon graduation from Parkview High School in Lilburn, Daniel was admitted to Georgia Institute of Technology. “I knew that I was most interested in business and Bible, and Tech has an incredible business school, so I chose to stay in Atlanta.” Daniel also says that the idea of being immersed in a community with students from more than 120 countries was an exciting proposition. “The exposure to so many different cultures and beliefs would give me the opportunity to speak truth to a ton of different people – some of the brightest and most promising students in the world. If I had decided on a Bible College, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
Daniel said that his experiences during his freshman year compelled him to dig deeper into his faith and to engage with other worldviews. He decided that he wanted to be able to better defend his faith while better understanding the faith of others.
That’s where Impact 360 came in.
“I had heard of Impact 360 in high school, so when I began to dig deep into my testimony and my own beliefs, I remembered that Gap Year wasn’t just limited to students entering college.”
Daniel began to research Impact 360 and approached his family with the idea of stepping away from Georgia Tech for a year. “My parents had an interesting perspective when I was working through this decision of whether I wanted to apply. They were proud that I was considering investing more into my faith, so they encouraged me to take the next step.”
That next step led Daniel to admittance into the Gap Year program, and now he and his parents both agree that it was a providential assignment.
“Impact 360 challenged me in more ways than I can describe. I learned what true community is all about, and my experiences those nine months allowed me to focus on the hard questions I had been asking throughout my freshman year at Tech. I got to spend quality time with 30 other students who were all passionate about studying God’s Word and uncovering the mysteries of how we are to live out the gospel.”
Today, Daniel is back at Georgia Tech and says that his ability to connect with others has magnified because of his time at Gap Year. He serves as the President of Veritas Forum, and is involved in several campus ministries. Along with his extracurricular activities, Daniel is also a Resident Advisor where he says he is able to display leadership lessons he learned Gap Year to more than 60 fellow students.
“Another great opportunity that has come from my time at Impact 360 is Toastmasters. Each week, I get to go over to the Chick-fil-A home office and work on my leadership skills with other young leaders from Atlanta.”
Earlier this summer, Daniel served as an intern at Wells Fargo Securities where he received hands-on experience in business finance. Upon graduation from Tech, Daniel hopes to earn his PhD and one day become a professor.
For more about Daniel, and to share in the stories of other Gap Year alumni, visit impact360.net.