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Noah Harris: From Hattiesburg to Harvard

Noah Harris: From Hattiesburg to Harvard
By Kara Martinez Bachman

On December 12, 2017, Hattiesburg’s Noah Harris opened up his Harvard application on his laptop. It was the moment of truth, to discover whether he’d been accepted into one of the premier universities in the world. He was surrounded by family, all anxious to see the result. Then he saw the word on the screen: “Congratulations.”

As we enter the back-to-school season, success stories such as Noah’s can inspire both parents and children. It helps make clear why even at the primary school level, a focus on education can pay big dividends when it comes to future success.

Little things done today…tiny steps…might set the stage for great things that happen tomorrow.

“From the moment I got accepted to Harvard, my life changed forever,” Harris explained. “I was blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime, but that meant I would have to move hundreds of miles away from home to attend my dream school.”

Despite the distance, he still felt connected to the Pine Belt region and wanted to give back to his home community. He came up with the idea of writing a children’s book, to teach kids they, too, can accomplish big things. Available on, it is called “Successville.” The book aims to “teach kids that they can do anything if they value their education.”

“Growing up at Oak Grove in the Lamar County School District, I was equipped with all the resources to succeed since the beginning,” he reminisced. “My school, combined with my supportive family, provided me the encouragement to be the best me possible.”

“I have God and everyone in my life to thank for that support,” he explained, in gratitude. “However, not all kids are that lucky. They have to find their encouragement and their drive from a different source. My goal is to make ‘Successville’ that source for kids in Mississippi.”

Harris said the book doesn’t suggest everyone follow his educational path; it simply encourages kids to follow “their own version of success.”

“For doctors, that is a hospital, and for teachers, that is a school,” he explained. “The book makes it clear that everyone’s Successville is a different place, because people have different abilities and backgrounds that affect their outcomes.”

“Despite this reality,” he continued, “no matter how you define success, as long as you achieve that reality, you have something to be proud of.”

“Successville” is a story about Mrs. Jones, who inspires her second-grade class to aim higher. Because of her early encouragements about goal-setting, the kids eventually make it to their own unique “Successvilles.”

“All of their dreams came true, because someone told them they needed to start laying the groundwork for their future success while they were young,” Harris said. “That is the type of drive that will make the difference in the lives of kids who are willing to apply themselves and do their best throughout all their endeavors.”

Just as Mrs. Jones encouraged her students, there’s no doubt this promising young man from Hattiesburg will continue to have a similar influence on those around him.


Author and editor Kara Martinez Bachman is a mom to two teenage kids, one of whom is now in college. She is sure her son’s college scholarship is in great part due to the teachers, librarians, and others who inspired him while an elementary student in the Hancock County Public School System.

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