Harris Makes Positive Changes

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JANUARY 03, 2009
  Nic Harris
  Senior Safety Nic Harris
NORMAN, Okla. -- As a freshman in college, Nic Harris left home, Alexandria, La., a place where his talents were developed and his heart became inspired as a kid, and found his collegiate home in Norman. In between a busy schedule booked with games and daily practices, the downtime led him to wonder what’s next.
“I just wanted to do more,” Harris said. “I knew that I wanted to be positive in every different way that I could.”
Fellow teammate, senior wide receiver Quentin Chaney, was trying to recruit other teammates to join him in an organization he was involved in called Bridge Builders. This student-athlete volunteer organization sparked Harris’ interest.
The idea of lending a helping hand in the community, especially reaching out to kids, seemed ideal to Harris as a great way to spend his extra time. He joined, and things were enjoyable for the member. Harris soon became the freshman liaison. Then, his peers appointed him to become the vice president, and now he holds the position of president.

The idea of lending a

helping hand in the

community, especially

reaching out to kids,

seamed ideal.

“I asked him, he came, and he’s been interested ever since,” Chaney simply put. “He’s a very strong-willed individual, a vocal leader and has been doing very well at what he does.”
It’s no piece of cake for anyone to be president, and even in the heart of football season, one of the greatest joys for the senior defensive back comes during Thanksgiving. Bridge Builders members venture out each year to the homes of 15 families in the community to deliver complete meals. The members make a collective effort to gather donations by sending out sponsorship letters to different organizations. Then, food is bought with that money and delivered to families the Monday before Thanksgiving for the families to enjoy a nice holiday meal.
“It’s extremely gratifying, especially last year,” Harris said. “One of the guys we donated to said it was the first time someone had done something so good for them all year.”
The giving doesn’t stop there. Throughout the year, Bridge Builders also mentor kids at Madison Elementary and the Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School in Oklahoma City and raises money for Toys for Tots at Christmas time. The members also participate in blood drives and serve water and encourage runners at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

One reason Harris

takes pride in his

position is because

he can reach out to

kids in the same

position he was.

“He’s done quite a bit,” Chaney said. “He’s helped not only the organization, but also the community.”
Another reason Harris takes pride in his position is because he can reach out to kids who are in the same position he was in as a child.  According to Harris, there are kids everywhere who need to hear words of encouragement that possibly no one else will say, that a little bit of hard work can go a long way, and those could be valuable words to kids. The biggest message Harris gets across at any motivational speaking event he speaks at is that “there is always light at the end of the tunnel -- it just depends on how far you can see.
“I think it’s beneficial for people to hear that because if not us, then who? Hopefully, we’ve made an impact in their lives because we’ve come. We made the efforts.”
The coordinator of Bridge Builders, Eric White, has come to know Harris through the hours that he has given back to the organization and the community. Harris has used his motivational speaking abilities to help others, and White believes Harris could have a career as a politician and run for office one day.
“Nic displays a positive image with a neat appearance through his words and actions,” says White. “He realizes dreams and hard work can get you far in life and you don’t have to be a product of your environment.”
Why did Harris want to make the efforts to lead Bridge Builders? Perhaps he gained inspiration from Michael Jordan, who overcame the odds to lead the Chicago Bulls to multiple championships and won two Olympic gold medals. Looking at what Jordan had done, Harris saw not only an athlete with immense talent, but the personal qualities he wanted to have.
“It was easy. Michael Jordan was pretty much the guy I looked up to -- his passion and the level of his game, his ability to overcome adverse conditions and to become one of the greatest.”
Perhaps the biggest source of inspiration for his selfless ambition came from his grandmother, Hattie Harris. He explains that as a kid, he watched his grandparents cook hot meals for church elderly and hospital patients.
“My grandmother had a heart of gold. She was like my superwoman.”

Perhaps his biggest

source of inspiration for

his selfless ambition was

his grandmother. "(She)

had a heart of gold."

He explains that she inspired him to become the person he is today because she shared her belief that, at the end of the day, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even through the tough times. Harris continues to go places today because of her wisdom, and carries it with him to pass it along to those who haven’t heard those words.
“Nic, in my opinion, is one who takes care of business,” White says. “He is very dependable and doesn’t take anyone or anything for granted. He serves as a positive role model for his peers and the youth.”
“I think my heart is so big that the things instilled by and through my grandmother will help me continue to give back wherever I go,” Harris concluded.
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Feature by Stephanie Turner | OU Athletics Media Relations
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