Motivation Monday: Harry

Calvin College | 2019
Biology and Biochemistry

Hometown: Saline, Michigan
Currently: Junior at Calvin, restoration greenhouse manager, campus tour guide, resident assistant, and researcher
Self-described: Passionate, persistent, compassionate
Enjoys: Spending time with friends, anything outdoors, reading, getting lost in the woods, learning new things, and volunteering with kids
"Being able to use my experiences to help others makes me feel like I belong on campus."

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Harry, and I am the first person in my family to attend college. I’m the third of five children and come from a lower-income, multi-generation, single-parent home. I’m a junior at Calvin College and heavily involved on campus and in the local community. I have multiple jobs, including helping to manage a greenhouse for restoration and research. This past summer I received funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct independent research at Michigan State University. I am in love with nature, volunteering with children, like to play tennis, read, and watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies (extended editions) every year.


Greatest source of inspiration

I push through it so that I can have a job helping people while doing what I love. Also, in the hopes that my youngest brother will follow in my footsteps by furthering his own education.


Greatest source of support

My grandparents and parents are supportive of me, though they don’t always know the best way to show it. I rely heavily on my friend group and other first generation students to keep me grounded.

Coffee or tea?
Hot cocoa

Dog or cat?

PC or Mac?

Early bird or night owl?
Early bird

Cake or pie?

College / University
Calvin College

Major / Minor
Double Major in Biology and Biochemistry

Years Attended

Grad Year


Favorite thing

The community is unlike any other. It is such a great place to engage in intellectual conversation and deep friendship.


Least favorite thing

It can be overly busy and stressful at times. I don’t always feel like the expectation meets the reality.


Study habits

I’m actually a terrible studier. I prefer to pay close attention in class and ask a lot of questions. When I do study, groups are best for me. Explaining what I know to others cements it in my own mind.


Tell us about a challenge you faced. How did you overcome it?

When I came to college, I didn’t know anyone or anything about how college worked. I started volunteering and getting involved in the dorm and on-campus the first week of school. It allowed me to meet people who could show me how to “do college.”


How did you find your sense of belonging?

This is something I still struggle with. I go to a private school with lots of wealthy students who are third to fifth generation college students, and it can be difficult to feel as though my peers understand the way I think or feel. I usually find a sense of belonging while working with younger first gen students or during my time as an RA. Being able to use my experiences to help others makes me feel like I belong.


What campus resources do you use?

My first semester of college I signed up for an “academic coach” even though I had all 4.0’s. It was extremely beneficial to have someone show me how to best read textbooks, study, and organize myself before I had any issues.


What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?

Prioritize sleep! I’ve done better on every test I was well rested for than those I spent all night studying for.

The best advice I ever received in college was follow your passion. If you have to choose between a difficult course you’d love and an easy course you’d hate, do the one you love. I find that I do better when I care about the class.


What's your secret for time management and productivity?

I try and integrate everything into a routine. I schedule work shifts, study groups, dinner with friends, etc. on the same night each week. My secret to productivity was finding the setting I am most productive in. For me, it is a public space facing away from the crowd.


How do you de-stress?

I get away. Whether a night off campus with my friends, a day in the woods, or locked in my room with a good book, I make sure to allow my brain to rest and focus on something else for a while.


How do you stay motivated?

I remind myself how every day is that much further than anyone in my family has gone before and how their lives can change if I reach the finish line.


Future goals?

My short-term goal is simply to graduate. In the longer run, I’d like to get my Ph.D. in a field related to plant science/urban ecology/public health and possibly be a professor.


Final thoughts?

Looking back, I wouldn’t change my decision to attend college.

I could use some help with...

Potential summer research positions for 2018.
Finding graduate school programs and advisors for Fall 2019 or 2020.

Connect with Harry