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Standing Out in the Crowd

By Michael Harrison, AVID Alumnus

Michael Harrison was a student speaker at this year’s Summer Institute in Indianapolis.  Below is his speech as prepared. You can also watch his speech!

I have always stood out amongst my peers.  No, I am not being cocky or egotistical; I am 6’4”.  So I generally stand out in a room of people.  Unfortunately, very few colleges say, “Oh, you’re 6’4”. Here’s a full ride.”

When 9th grade rolled around, I didn’t really stand out for academic achievement, I had always been a B honor roll student.  I was just another face in the crowd.  So when I got the letter asking to interview for AVID, my family and I decided that I should go for it.  We had never heard of AVID, but after some research, we discovered a fantastic program that would assist me in many ways.  Not only would it help me to do my best in high school and improve my organizational skills, but it would help me stand out amongst the crowd of people who would be applying for college at the same time.  AVID helped me stand out for more than just being 6’4”.

One thing that AVID pushes us to do is to join extracurricular activities.  When I began my high school career, I had planned on being involved in high school sports, but that was all.  I was actually shy and afraid to try new things in high school, but AVID pushed me to be involved in other activities.  Unfortunately, I was a little behind on getting the message.  When junior year rolled around, I was just another “jock” so to speak.  I finally caught on to AVID’s hints that there was more to high school than sports.  The winter of my junior year, I joined two new activities that were completely foreign to me, theatre and speech.  No one had ever done either of these in my family, and to be honest, I had never considered joining these until my AVID teacher Mrs. Larson pushed me to try them.  My new activities made school even more awesome.  Not only did they help me begin to stand out in the crowd, but they helped build some key characteristics, like confidence.  That is one thing colleges also like, a person who has confidence.  AVID pushes us for these reasons, to see us grow as people.

AVID didn’t just push me to try new extracurricular activities; it challenged me to push my limits academically.  When my school started the International Baccalaureate program, the AVID staff encouraged me to take rigorous course work, so I dove into the IB program.  I was in for a major wake up call.  I needed to prepare myself for two years of hard work and a few scheduling problems.  But in the end, the IB program was big in helping me be college ready.  AVID and IB worked well together, and my AVID teacher was always there to support me and give assistance as needed.

Another academic challenge AVID helped prepare me for was the ACT test.  We did months and months of preparation.  When I finally took the test, I utilized a lot of the skills that AVID taught me.  When I received the score, I could not have been more pleased.  I got a 30, which is a fantastic score on the ACT.  The academic challenges that AVID pushes us to take, like the IB program and to strive for a great ACT score, really helped me stand out in the masses of other seniors who would also be applying for colleges.

Every high school student’s goal is to get into college.  AVID’s goal is to help us all get where we need to be for this dream to occur.  By assisting me with things like the ACT, pushing me to take part in challenging academic courses, like the IB program, or pushing me to try new activities and be involved, AVID helped me achieve that dream.  It helped me get accepted into Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where I will study biology and chemistry, on my way to becoming a pharmacist.  Now, I will stand out in a crowd for my academic and extra-curricular achievements, and not solely for my height.


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