Nesbitt Looking Forward To Global Adventure Via Bonderman Fellowship
Former Husky baseball player Channing Nesbitt has been afforded the unique experience and opportunity of a lifetime to travel the world as a recipient of the Bonderman Fellowship. The 25-year-old from Oakland, Calif., was one of eight graduate and eight undergrad students that received the travel fellowship through the University of Washington for 2020.
Nesbitt joins former women's soccer standout Havana McElvaine as the only Husky student-athletes to receive the fellowship that has funded life-changing global journeys for 295 UW students since its inception in 1995. Fortunately for Nesbitt, he built a strong friendship with McElvaine from their time as student-athletes together and is counting on her for some valuable insight and input as he nears his departure.
"Having Havana as someone who has done it before and someone that I'm super close with, she is going to be a big resource for helping me figure out how to be most efficient and take advantage of the entire opportunity while I'm at every single place," Nesbitt said.
It was through McElvaine that Nesbitt initially became aware of the Bonderman Fellowship. McElvaine was a recipient in 2017 and that is when his interest was piqued.
"I remember listening to her talk about the application process and the whole idea of what she was doing," Nesbitt said. "I never got to study abroad during college and have done minimal traveling. I haven't got to see as much of the world as I would like to. So, hearing about what she was going to be doing just got me crazy excited. I was like, 'Wow, I definitely want a chance to do this.' "
In the summer of 2019, Nesbitt decided to throw his name into the hat for the fellowship. He went through the application process and drew from his time as a student-athlete to help him answer many of the questions on the application.
"There were questions on the application about how you deal with being uncomfortable or how do you deal with facing challenges," Nesbitt said. "I remember Coach (Lindsay) Meggs always saying, 'You have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.' That is something that has stuck with me throughout my time in sports and throughout my time working in corporate America.
"As an athlete, you deal with a lot of emotions, you face a lot of adversity, you tackle a lot of challenges and you have to relate to a lot of different people that aren't from the same place as you. A lot of those elements, I was really able to explore throughout my entire athletic career and it's something that sticks with me every day of my life."
Those experiences while playing baseball clearly helped influence the selection committee. After several rounds of interviews, Nesbitt heard the lifechanging news in February of 2020 that he was chosen as a Bonderman Fellow recipient.
In a typical year, the recipients are given two weeks to decide if they want to accept or decline the opportunity. They then have one calendar year to plan and execute their travel plans to visit at least two regions of the world and six different countries over an eight-month span.
But like the rest of the world, the Bonderman Fellows have all been affected by the Coronavirus in 2020. All travel scholarships and study abroad students sponsored through the UW have been put on hiatus, leaving the 16 fellows, including Nesbitt, in limbo.
Nesbitt and the rest of his cohorts were given through the end of the 2020 school year to decide to accept or decline the Bonderman Fellowship. They will also receive a two-year window in which they can travel once it is permitted again by the UW. Nesbitt, who in June completed his master's degree in public administration with a specialization in public finance and organizational management from UW's Evans School, happily accepted the fellowship opportunity and has been working on an itinerary for his trip ever since.
In his initial application, Nesbitt listed Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador as countries he would like to visit. After much thought and consideration, he has amended his wish list of countries to visit.
"South America is all relatively going to stay the same," Nesbitt said. "There are a few modifications I'm going to make in Africa. Because Africa is so big, I don't want to spend too much of my money travelling from location to location. So, what I will probably do is cut three locations out of Africa and try to squeeze in Vietnam and then maybe a place in India. I have a lot of planning to still do."
"For me I want to spend a significant amount of time at each location," Nesbitt continued. "Brazil is where I want to spend the longest time, which is almost like five weeks. Every location I visit I intend to spend two to three weeks. The cool thing is that the travel is flexible. If I end up not enjoying a location, I can jump to the next spot. And if I love a place, I can decide I can extend my trip and experience more of the country. They really don't give you too many limitations or boundaries in terms of how you spend your trip."
For now, the trip will have to wait. But in the meantime, Nesbitt is working full time as a project manager for the social impact arm of Tableau, a data analytics and visualization company. While he is passionate about his future travels, he is equally passionate about his work and the impact it has on the community.
Nesbitt works with organizations in the non-profit and public sector space, helping them implement data software to help fight for social good. He manages portfolios that range in a bunch of different worldly issues, like global health, climate change, homelessness, gender equity and education equity. He is currently co-leading an initiative called the Racial Justice Data Initiative, a $10 million initiative that is looking to partner with organizations that are supporting and combating anti-black racism in the United States.
While Nesbitt is helping lead the charge for social change in the world, he also fully expects his travels to transform him. He says when he returns, "it will be a reformative time of life. I plan to come back very different from when I leave."
The one thing that certainly won't change when he returns from his travels is that Nesbitt will continue to be a shining beacon of pride for not only the Husky baseball team, but the entire athletic department and UW community.