College Essay: Nick Watts to Attend Xavier University


Nick Watts, Co-Editor-in-Chief '23

I have a Carter-Mondale ’76 bumper sticker on my car. I got it on November 2nd, 2021, for the 45th anniversary of the 1976 Election.

I’m proud of my bumper sticker because I’m proud of what President Carter represents. Ever since August 11th, 2019, when I made my family drive to Plains and sleep in the car to get a seat next to President Carter at his Sunday school the next morning, I have had a deep appreciation for his life of service. His administration prioritized peace, human rights, and diplomacy.

Ever since that trip, I have been fascinated by the responsible, ethical, and honest leadership that President Carter showed during his time in office. Although often remembered for many of its flaws, the Carter Administration brought peace between Egypt and Israel, thawed relations with the Soviet Union, and began the discussion about renewable energy.

Even on tough issues such as the stagflation-plagued economy, he always told Americans the truth, even if they didn’t want to listen.

Paul Volcker, appointed Federal Reserve Chair by Carter, would later be credited with playing a large part in restoring the economy to health.

Senator Bob Dole, a Republican who disagreed with Carter on many issues, displayed many of the same leadership qualities.

Senator Dole worked on numerous occasions to pass bipartisan legislation for veterans, disabled people, women, children, and elderly people such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Megan’s Law, renewing the Civil Rights Act, and saving Social Security.

That is why I will be forever grateful for the time that we spoke by phone on March 17th, 2021.

Among other things, we talked about bipartisanship and how it should be prioritized more often.

As the President of my high school, I try every day to emulate the example of these two men.

Hailing from opposite parties with opposite beliefs on scores of issues, neither man descended to the level of hurling ad-hominem insults or demonizing the other side. Both understood that for the health of our nation, we must build up those around us, even those on opposite sides, for everyone to participate in democracy with good faith.

This sentiment is at the core of my political beliefs. I believe that our government is better than the divisive, culture war, identity politics that we see today. I know that our government works the best when the discussions are calm, and the atmosphere is cordial.

How do I know this? I recently attended Ohio Buckeye Boys State as one of 650 young men.

Our task was to form a government and craft legislation that would benefit the people of our state. I worked in the Senate as Special Legal Counsel where I drafted a bipartisan bill to end gerrymandering. I worked with the Senators, who were also my age with a vast array of political views, to craft the bill.

I presented it to the Senate Leader and House Speaker who agreed to sponsor it. The bill passed unanimously and with applause.

As I sat at my desk in the back of the chamber, listening to the ‘aye’ votes being announced, I couldn’t help but wonder why, if 17-year-olds could, adults on Capitol Hill can’t come up with more bipartisan solutions to hot-button issues. I also realized something else: the future is bright.

Why? Because the same 17-year-olds in the Boys State Senate Chamber will one day graduate to the United States Senate chamber.

Because the same generation that has experienced the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 Recession, Covid-19, the effects of climate change, and the toxic atmosphere of our politics today are ready to stand up for the principles of civility, decency, and bipartisanship that made our government work.

I, for one, am beyond excited to spearhead that change with the examples of such elder statesman as President Carter and Senator Dole to help guide me along the way.