Stories of Excellence–Jonathan Harris
Jonathan Harris has experienced Mitchell from many perspectives. As a Statesville native, he knew of Mitchell’s positive impact in the community. As a student, he felt the impact on his own life. As an employee, he now has the chance to make an impact on others.
Upon graduating West Iredell High School in 1998, Harris went straight into the workforce working full time to provide for himself and his family. He stayed with his company for eight years, working his way up to a supervisory role. Harris came to Mitchell in 2011 after losing his job due to company closure. He chose to continue his educational journey in order to better provide for his wife and two children. His family was very supportive of his goal, with wife Jessica even working two jobs to ensure he could continue his education. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without her,” Harris noted. Like many Mitchell students, Harris was unsure of what exactly he wanted to pursue, but he knew he wanted a degree that led to great job opportunities. Combining his passions of accuracy and mathematics, he decided to major in accounting.
Going back to school had its challenges. “I had many obstacles coming back to school after being out of school for so many years,” Harris said. “When I graduated high school, there were no computers in use. Turning in homework and assignments on Moodle [Mitchell’s online learning platform] was completely foreign to me, but all of my instructors were very helpful while challenging at the same time.” Even with the obstacles, Harris finished his first semester with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). He then made it his goal to finish every semester with a 4.0 GPA.
Harris was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and one of the founding members of the Accounting Club. These networking opportunities gave him many life-long contacts. He was also a Member of Who’s Who in Community Colleges and worked as a co-op student. Instructors along the way really impacted Harris as well. “My favorite faculty member was Dale Pocock,” he noted. “He was the most challenging instructor, but he really wants to prepare his students for the challenges that come after the classroom.”
In May 2013, Harris graduated with a 4.0 GPA and fulfilled the promise he made to himself. “My experience at Mitchell completely changed my life,” he shared. “It took my career in a totally different direction and gave me the opportunity to have multiple career options.” Due to his co-op experience, Harris obtained a position in Mitchell’s Financial Services department and worked his way up to a full-time permanent position. He currently serves as the Controller at Mitchell.
Harris’s educational journey is not over–he is currently pursuing his bachelor’s in accounting at Gardner Webb University with an expected completion date of 2022. He then wants to pursue his master’s in accounting and has an ultimate goal to advance to a CFO position. “My education has helped and will directly help me achieve my career goals,” he said. His own children have big dreams for their education, in large part, fueled by seeing their dad go back to college. In a few more years, they may too attend Mitchell.
Harris recommends Mitchell any chance he gets. “Most people do not see the value in a community college,” he admitted. “But you can still pursue a higher degree after graduating and it is a fraction of the cost.” Harris advises future students to work hard and not give up. “You have to do the work, and it is worth it when you get done. Stick with it even when it’s tough. It opens up so many doors for you.” For accounting majors specifically, he added, “There are so many job possibilities, so many opportunities, and if you don’t like what you’re doing in accounting, you have at least ten other options you can pursue with your degree.”
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