Watson Alumni

Watson alumni have been recognized at a global scale for their work and commitment to impact.

A global and impactful community of alumni

Watson Institute’s 260 Scholars and alumni from 60 countries have raised over $100 million, created over 800 part or full-time jobs, and impacted over 150,000 people around the world through initiatives they help lead.

Two Watson alums have been selected to Y Combinator, four named to the Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists, and others are Echoing Green Fellows and continued their education at Harvard University, New York University, and Princeton University, among others.

98.5%

of alums are employed, continuing their education, or building a venture.

96%

of alumni report using a skill they learned at Watson Institute up to 6.5 years after graduation.

66%

of alumni report staying in touch with their Watson Institute mentor up to 6.5 years after graduation.

Watson alumni have been selected to Y Combinator, the Echoing Green Fellowship, and Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.

Watson alumni have continued their education at Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University, among others.

Meet a few of our alumni

Ricardo Rocha

Ricardo, who grew up in a low-income household in Denver, attended Watson Semester Accelerator in 2018 to further develop his enterprise Bondadosa, which provides affordable and healthy grocery delivery to low-income, primarily Hispanic neighborhoods in Colorado.

While at Watson Institute, he received guidance from local food and health entrepreneurs, and Ricardo was able to build a strong, local network, who were able to support him in difficult founder decisions even after his time at Watson Institute.

Ryan Singh

After graduating from Watson Institute, Ryan returned to University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign where he co-founded and led the iVenture Accelerator and Social Innovation at Illinois initiative.

Since then, Ryan co-founded Loop Health, a healthcare startup that is bringing modern primary care and insurance to the Indian middle class. In 2019, Ryan was selected to Y Combinator and closed a $1.7M investment to advance Loop Health’s work to change the incentives and limitations that plague India’s healthcare system.

Tessa Zimmerman

Tessa was the first student to earn a Bachelor of Science from Lynn University. During her undergraduate studies, Tessa built Asset Education, which has now trained teachers from over a dozen schools in Denver, Colorado and Harlem, New York to help their students manage anxiety.

Asset Education’s curriculum and training impacts 10,000 students across the United States every month. After graduating, Tessa published her first book, I am Tessa, about growing up with anxiety and tools to help young people thrive.

Nzambi Matee

Nzambi is the founder of Gjenge Makers, a sustainable, alternative and affordable, building products manufacturing company. Gjenge Makers has cut a niche as a manufacturing trailblazer in the provision of beautiful and sustainable alternative building materials.

Currently they are producing eco-friendly pavers that are made of a composite of recycled waste plastic and sand. They have partnered with different manufacturers of plastics bottle tops and seals in the beverage and pharmaceutical industries in Kenya, from whom they collect offcuts and scraps.

Cicy Zhang

Cicy received the Enlight China Fellowship to attend Watson Institute and develop, YouthPower, a Chinese NGO she started that provides leadership education to high schoolers through social change projects and experiential learning.

After graduating from the Watson Accelerator in Boulder, Colorado, Cicy completed her graduate studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education where she furthered her mission to transform education and develop the next generation of leaders in China.

Ian Otula

Ian is the founder of  Vuma Biofuels, a company that produces clean biomass energy from sugarcane waste. Their mission is to replace firewood-as-fuel for Kenya’s industrial sector and will soon begin supplying its product to tea factories.

In September 2019, his team opened Vuma Biofuels’ production facility and headquarters in rural western Kenya’s Migori County where Ian runs its daily operations, overseeing 94 employees.