Oak Grove’s Noah Harris to have local public signingBy MIK DAVIS,
Harvard student Noah Harris just completed his first year of college. The former Oak Grove High School student has been working hard to make his dreams come true nearly all his life. The lessons he learned and the inspiration that propels Harris to continue studying and pushing forward are his gift to the world in his new book "Successville."
Harris will be reading and signing copies of "Successville," at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 24, at T-BONES Records and Cafe. Harris took time from his busy schedule of touring elementary schools and getting ready to return to Harvard to illuminate us on where "Successville" came from and is taking him.
PBN: So you just finished the first year at Harvard; how do you feel about it? Can you see the lessons you learned this year possibly coming into sight for use in another book?
NH: My first year exceeded my expectations on several levels. I really did not know what to expect academically or socially when preparing to attend one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. I was surprised when it was full of so many people just like me who were driven and wanted to find ways to improve the society in which we live.
Personally, I was able to do well academically, get elected to represent my yard in the student government, and receive an award for my public service.
I have learned many lessons not just about Harvard or college in general but about life. I cannot say that this will translate into another book in the near future as this chapter of my life is incomplete, but it definitely could someday.
PBN: In "Successville" and your elementary school programs, you are largely an inspiration for young students to keep pushing and always setting their sights on the stars. Was there anyone you can remember seeing or encountering who motivated you?
NH: Apart from my parents and my own drive, there were several teachers and coaches at that time of my life that pushed me to be the best version of myself at all times. Because of them, I expected more out of myself.
PBN: "Successville" honestly presents a simple formula for success: study hard, pay attention, listen and work hard. However, in application, that never proves to be easy. Were there times in your life when you hit the wall? What did you do to motivate yourself to climb over it and triumph?
NH: With my many passions came several extracurriculars that I wanted to pursue, and at times, the overlapping of those activities was a lot to deal with in addition to my schoolwork. For example, if I was coming back from an away basketball game and had homework, sometimes I would have to stay up until two or three in the morning to finish it. No matter what, school came first. I made life harder for myself by doing what I loved, but I was never going to let my education suffer because of the extra things I enjoyed.
PBN: It seems like your goal is to make a real, measurable impact on the world at large. Who did you look up to that led to this lofty and noble aspiration?
NH: It was my parents. If one thing stood out that they taught me, it is that if I work hard, I can achieve anything. This simple philosophy has made me who I am today. As far as having an impact goes, I believe that helping people is the most valuable things I can do in life.
PBN: Is it safe to say that the world for children is getting harder? Technology while being extremely helpful, has become a large distraction. With iPhones and iPads, do you see them as a sort of "necessity" that must be monitored and maintained?
NH: Technological advancements that were supposed to bring kids closer to the world has seemingly distanced them from it. Children read less and go outside less than they did even a decade prior. It is up to us to monitor the use of electronics and to be sure they are used to help the academic process not hinder it.
PBN: To what value is reading in your life? What are some of the books you read that meant something personal or even changed you?
NH: Reading is very important to me. I wish I had more time to read what I am interested in. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a classic that really made me question who gets to tell the narrative that is interpreted for generations as “history.” Fair Shot by Chris Hughes proposes a future that helps end poverty in this country. W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk gives me the opportunity to conceptualize my experiences as an African American in this country.
PBN: On your tour of schools, where have you visited? How have you been accepted?
NH: So far, I have visited all the schools in the Lamar County School District. That encompasses Oak Grove, Sumrall, Purvis, Baxterville and Lumberton. I have been received with great energy and excitement everywhere I have gone, but at the same time, I have been able to tell which schools normally have the opportunity to have these type of programs and which ones don’t always get that chance. In the near future, I hope to visit Hattiesburg Public Schools to spread my message.
PBN: With "Successville" promoting a personal version of "Successville," how do you define your own place and where do you see yourself going from here?
NH: At Harvard, I feel like I am en route to my Successville. I don’t see this school as a destination, rather a window of opportunity to reach my full potential. In my future, I hope to go to law school, become a lawyer to help people who have been wronged by the system, then become a political official to work on changing that system.