Meet 2023 CCS Commencement Alumni Speakers: David Watson and Vinitha Menon Watson

May 4, 2023
David Watson '99 (CCS Computer Science) and Vinitha Menon Watson '99 (L&S Sociology and Communications)
David Watson '99 (CCS Computer Science) and Vinitha Menon Watson '99 (L&S Sociology and Communications)

“Freedom to explore creativity is the best gift anyone can receive as it allows that person to find meaning, purpose, and impact." 

– Vinitha Menon Watson and David Watson 

David Watson ’99 (CCS Computer Science) and Vinitha Menon Watson ’99 (L&S Sociology and Communications) not only embrace creativity in their personal and professional lives, but their zest for the impact it can have on finding meaning and purpose in one’s life is invigorating. In addition, they are strong enthusiasts of entrepreneurial learning and cross-disciplinary discourse and collaboration. All of which combined has led them over the years to be involved in numerous efforts and ventures that cross traditional business and cultural boundaries, including Zoo Labs, a non-profit music accelerator they co-founded. Vinitha is currently committed to the practice of holistic healing, addressing the psychological, societal, ethical, spiritual as well as the biological dimension of health and well-being. David is deeply engaged in propelling forward technology start-ups with product development and leadership mentorship. 

Vinitha and David were featured as one of 50 stories during the College’s 50th anniversary in 2017-2018, a series featuring amazing people responsible for making our unconventional College possible. In addition, David was on the CCS 50th Anniversary Honorary Council which represented a microcosm of the CCS community responsible for making the College a unique place for experiential learning and where radical curiosity is celebrated. 

As early visionaries on the impact transdisciplinary learning could have for CCS students, David and Vinitha in 2006 endowed The Transdisciplinary Fund at CCS with the goal of encouraging student discussion and collaboration across multiple disciplines. The College has hosted several educational experiences over the years, built around visits or residencies of scholars and practitioners engaged in work at the intersection of two or more disciplines. When the public health concerns and travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic surrounded in-person events with significant uncertainty, with enthusiasm from David and Vinitha, CCS launched a collaborative program between CCS and the UCSB Graduate Division, Crossroads 2.0, a program that expands multidisciplinary education at the College, featuring courses that focus on social or environmental justice. Because of Vinitha and David’s leadership and vision, CCS students will continue to benefit from these unique learning opportunities in years to come.