RTC student receives top national honors

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Carl Harris, a student leader and Foundation scholar at Renton Technical College, has been named to the 2018 All-USA Academic Team – one of only 20 students in the country to be recognized for outstanding academic achievement.

The All‐USA program is recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending associate degree‐granting institutions. This is the second year in a row that a RTC student and Foundation scholar has been named to the All-USA Academic Team. In 2017, Mohammed “Mo” Abdullahi, received top honors for his outstanding academic achievement and campus leadership. 

Harris, who currently serves as a student representative on the RTC Foundation Board of Directors, was also named a 2018 New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar representing Washington state. More than 2,000 students were nominated from 1,600 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar is selected from each state and recognized nationally for outstanding academic accomplishments, leadership and for extending their talents beyond the classroom.

He will graduate in June with his associate’s degree. He plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in social work at UW and has his sights set on Columbia University for his master’s. Among his activities, Harris has served on the Student Leadership Executive Committee and Associated Student Government and as a student representative to the RTC Foundation Board of Directors, president of the Surgical Technologist Club and a peer tutor. Earlier this year, Harris was also selected by the Board of Trustees to be RTC’s nominee for the Transforming Lives Awardsponsored by the Washington State Association of College Trustees.

At age 33, he decided to enroll at RTC because he saw a diverse group of students from the college getting on and off the bus every day. He often speaks of the welcoming and supportive environment he has experienced at the college. Though he originally intended to take a short certificate program and get a job, the encouragement he received by many and the scholarships he received from the Foundation compelled him to accomplish more at school.

His path to college success, however, has not been easy. The biracial son of a single mother serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he recalled moving during high school to a new town with little racial diversity where he experienced violence and racism. Life after high school included homelessness and a struggle to return to civilian life after serving in the military.

 “Carl Harris is one of the most remarkable students I have known in the nearly 15 years I’ve worked with student leaders,” said Jessica Supinski, director of student programs and engagement at RTC. “Despite the trauma he has survived, he consistently and progressively moves forward toward his personal and academic goals.”

Harris traveled to Dallas in April for the All-USA ceremony and was recognized by Gov. Jay Inslee in March along with other RTC members of the All-Washington Academic Team, Murphy Vang and Kathryn Forman.

The All‐USA Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa, the premier honor society for community colleges students, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

Photo of RTC student Carl Harris.

Carl Harris, a student leader and Foundation scholar at Renton Technical College, has been named to the 2018 All-USA Academic Team – one of only 20 students in the country to be recognized for outstanding academic achievement.