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Noah Harris, Harvard’s first African American student body president

Author, activist, history-maker on making a difference

Meet Harvard student body president Noah Harris

Noah Harris, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the first African American to serve as student body president at the prestigious Harvard University, now in its 384th year. Harris is studying law. His Vice President, Asian American Jenny Gan, is a majoring in neuroscience.

Speaking recently to Black Parent Magazine, Harris says he is up for the challenge of serving his first year in a pandemic. Like all Harvard students, he has been studying virtually, currently in the Boston area, and even campaigned remotely. “Because we are virtual, the entire campaign was online and on social media. That made the process very different from what I have been used to in the past.”

Harris and Gan’s campaign slogan was “Building Tomorrow’s Harvard.”

Harris understands his important position and does not shy away from the idea that African American youngsters are now looking to him for cues. “I do consider myself a role model,” he says. “I strive to be someone that young people would want to look up to. I am always trying to learn from others and be available to anyone who needs advice.”

Even before being elected student body president, Harris took the role of advisor and elder seriously enough to write the children’s book, Successville. The book is aimed at children aged 3 to 7. 

Harris says,I wrote [Successville] to show kids they can do anything if they are willing to do the work and focus on their education. In the book, Ms. Jones teaches her class about this place called Successville after she catches them not paying attention again. The kids soon learn everyone has a Successville in their lives, and they will have to get their act together if they ever want to make it there. 

Successville represents the place where people achieve their own versions of success. This place is based on a combination of goals, hard work, and talent. Everyone's Successville is a different place because only we know when we have given our all in an effort to make our dreams a reality.”

When asked what inspires him, Harris is quick to cite his parents, and to credit them with much of his success: “They have been so encouraging. They were the ones who told me I could do anything if I put my mind to it. They showed me that if I worked hard in school from a young age, that would pay off for me. 

If it were not for my mom, I would not have even applied to Harvard. They both have believed in me from the beginning. They are also so hardworking. They were the first generation in their families to go to college, and they have provided a great life for my sister Peyton and me.”

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