College Changes Everything: Wytrice Harris

This video blog is the seventh of eight installments in a series that profiles college access professionals. During the selected interviews, participants explain how college proved to be a “game changer” in their lives. Interviews will appear on MCAN's blog every Tuesday, June 14 through August 2. 

Name
Wytrice Harris

Colleges Attended
Wayne County Community College, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Wayne State University

Degrees Earned
Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Master of Arts in Mathematics, Master of Education in Instructional Technology 

Current Job Title/Employer
Detroit Promise College Success Coach for Macomb County Community College, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

Year of College Graduation
Wayne County Community College 2001, University of Michigan-Dearborn 2004 and 2006, and Wayne State University 2011

Who, if anyone, encouraged you most to attend college?
My mother was my biggest encourager.  She was the first in her family from rural Alabama to go to college and raised me with the expectation that I would do the same. My children also inspired me to go back to college. I am a non-traditional college student who returned to college at the age of 30 when my twins were six-months old. I decided it would be impossible to expect them to finish what they started if I never finished what I started. 

What surprised you most about college?
When I initially went to college after high school, I was surprised by the amount of studying that college required. I graduated from to Cass Technical High School, a magnet school in Detroit, but still felt unprepared for the academic responsibility that college required. 

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome while attending college?
I initially went to Florida A&M University, a historically black university almost 1000 miles away from Detroit. For me, this proved to be too far. I turned into the student I tell all my students never to become: someone who put having fun and partying over going to class and obtaining a degree. I ended up on academic probation and returned home.  Going back to school was an obstacle for a long time, because I always assumed it was too late, it would take too much, and/or that a college degree wouldn't be worth it. Boy was I wrong! The hardest step was the first one and then each step became easier and easier.

Where do you think you'd be/what might you be doing if you hadn't attended college?
To be honest, I would probably be stuck in a service job where I would do well but never get paid anywhere close to the worth of the work due to the lack of education credentials.  I'd likely be working a job I had to instead of choosing the jobs I wanted to work. 

Feel free to expand on your video response to tell us more about how/why college was a “game changer” for you.
College wasn't just a game changer for me but for my husband our entire family.  My husband and I are high school sweethearts. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade but was inspired to complete his GED after I returned to Detroit from Florida A&M Univeristy. We decided to attend Wayne County Community College together. He now has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and is a few classes shy of a master’s degree in pastoral counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary. He now serves as the faith-based coordinator of Cease Fire, a program aimed at providing real and timely interventions for violent offenders in the city of Detroit. 

 

Posted July 26, 2016

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