Originally posted on Hinds Community College Foundation.
Few students leave high school with not only full funding for a two-year college degree but also with a guaranteed job waiting for them afterward.
But Quatarius Harris, 21, was able to turn his Clinton High School and Hinds Community College dual credit into an associate degree and a springboard into a promising technical career.
“I always wanted to do engineering,” Harris said, “that’s why I took the classes that I did, because I knew engineering principles would be part of the curriculum.”
Harris started his dual enrollment program at Clinton High School in the automotive track, earning certification in Automotive Service Excellence in the 11th grade. In 12th grade he took an honors class in Principles of Engineering.
His lead CTE instructor took notice of Harris’ electrical programming and mechanical skills. When Harris told him he wanted to be an electrical engineer “that’s when my instructor called human resources at Continental Tire and put my name in the hat for an apprenticeship,” he said. “They gave me an interview and things went well. They brought me on as a Production Technologist apprentice and paid for me to go to school.”
He started the one-year apprenticeship program the summer after graduating from Clinton High School and immediately enrolled in the Hinds Electro-Mechanical Technology program for the fall 2021 semester. Harris completed the Hinds sponsored Registered Apprenticeship program offered at Continental Tire in July 2022. He finished his associate degree at Hinds in December 2022. He said that working full time and going to school full time was a challenge.
He was the Robert Miley Endowed Scholarship recipient through the Hinds Community College Foundation.
“The coursework is very rigorous,” Harris said. “Luckily, my instructors were very reasonable. They knew that I was attending classes at night since I had a full-time job. This taught me a lot about self-discipline.
“I had to find a balance, though, and that was a challenge. It was just a mind game of self-discipline that I had to get through,” he said.
Harris is still at Hinds taking a few courses before transferring to Mississippi State University this fall for a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
“The thing about education is that no matter how much you learn, there’s always more that can be learned,” he said.
He feels very confident about this next step, he said, because of his educational foundation with Hinds and because of his hands-on experience at Continental Tire.
“One thing that’s different about being a technician versus being trained as an engineer is that no matter what they go over in the classroom, I’ve already been exposed to it as a technician – the technician’s work informs you why something is done, but the engineer can tell you how it works, and that’s what I want to do.”