Dana Watson ’00
Dana Watson is the chief operating officer for the South Alabama division of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes, holds three master’s degrees, and in pursuit of a doctorate in organizational leadership. But before the University of Mobile alumnus achieved all of this, he was first a resident of the Children’s Home himself.
He relayed his life story recently to RamLegacy, a support organization for first-generation-to-college students at University of Mobile.
“I remember waking up to watch cartoons on a Saturday, hungry. All I found was a bag of cornmeal. I made a patty, cooked it and put ketchup on it. And that was all I had to eat that day,” he explained.
When he came to the Children’s Home, he was given three meals a day, a family environment, and most importantly, his faith. Eight years later, he chose University of Mobile for college. He graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in sociology with a minor in religion.
“I just loved that the culture of UM was centered on Christ,” he said.
But his story of growth did not end with believing in God and attending a Christian-affiliated university. As a student, he had a realization.
“I was not a person of integrity,” Watson revealed. “When I said I was going to be somewhere, I didn’t show up. If I said I was going to do something, I didn’t do it. And I began to get a reputation.
“So I sat down one day and wrote down all of the things I was realizing about myself that I didn’t like. I wrote, ‘From this day forward, I will be a man of integrity.’ And then I made a list of all the things I wanted to do differently.
“After that, everything changed.”
The coffee-stained paper is still in his desk drawer today. He keeps it, he says, as a reminder of the day he realized that who he was becoming was who he would be. It reminds him of the resolution he made at University of Mobile – which now impacts hundreds of families through his work with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes.