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'He has made this campus feel like home': A tribute to Daniel Watt

Dear Daniel,

I remember being so nervous for our first Edens team meeting. I had just been offered the RA position a couple weeks prior, and with the introduction of new RAs as well as an abrupt transition of RCs, there was apprehension of how the rest of the year would go. 

You popped up on screen with some wacky background and were leaning way back, resulting in your face looking like it was kind of floating, and I remember thinking, “That’s kind of weird." It took several weeks for me to realize that casually pushing back and reclining in your chair was just a Daniel thing. 

There was something about your quiet confidence and warm self-assuredness that drew us all in and melted away our uncertainties. You had the ability to assess a situation or group of people and identify the strengths, opportunities, and needs—and, more importantly, how to fit in as many LeBron references as possible. Everything you did had a purpose. 

At one team meeting, you decided this hour would be dedicated to career preparation, and one exercise was practice of our ‘elevator pitch.' I recall complaining about the activity in our breakout rooms and how it felt like a waste of time, but nevertheless obliging just because. Then, after being asked for my elevator pitch during a random coffee chat two days later, I realized that once again, you were right. 

Time spent with you was always time well spent. I left every conversation with you feeling lighter, reaffirmed, and refreshed. You were someone I admired, trusted, and appreciated.

I was so excited to come back from studying abroad to tell you everything I had experienced and to show you how much I had grown. I was so excited to randomly pop into your office and bug you when I was back on campus. I was so excited for you to see me graduate, to tell me, “I’m proud of you." 

I was so excited for our relationship to evolve from mentor/mentee to friendship. I was so excited to be able to catch up with you in another city many years down the road. I was so excited to see your Facebook updates of a wedding, of kids, of a family. 

I was so excited for you. 

To Elizabeth and the Watt family, thank you for sharing Daniel with us. Thank you for his kind-hearted, goofy, competitive, and loving nature. He has made this campus feel like home and has made me a better person for knowing him, and for that I will always be grateful.

Duke will not be the same place without you, Daniel. 

Rest in peace and rest in power. 

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