On the Road to Success – It’s Best to Go with Your Own Heart!

The first time I met Tanisha Harris, I picked her up for the Scholars Dinner in 2017. What I noticed right away, was her positive attitude and her polite demeanor. Over the past few years, she has received several HEMI scholarships, which she shared her dreams of accomplishing her goals. I remember when Tanisha successfully completed her first semester of college and she wanted to transfer to another local college. She sent me a photo of her vision board and her pros/cons list. I was impressed with her fortitude and self-awareness to aspire towards her own success, even if it wasn’t a traditional pathway. She was brave and courageous to go with her heart. She didn’t know it, but she was blazing a path for other foster youth to overcome and earn their own degrees.

Tanisha Harris’ vision board from 2018.

I recently received feedback from Dress for Success about their interactions with Tanisha:

  • “Kimberly, I just had to send you a quick note, we suited Miss. Harris on Saturday and she was just pure joy. I hope you had a wonderful experience with us. Please share with her our very best wishes!!! We are all cheering her on.

Tanisha Harris has never ceased to amaze me, as I have witnessed her overcome several challenges to attain her certificate in Welding from Cincinnati State in the fall of 2017. She will be recognized for her achievement at the 2020 HEMI Scholars Dinner. I recently had the opportunity to interview her about her post-secondary education journey and know she will inspire everyone to “Go with your heart!”

-Kimberly Rhyan, HEMI Program Specialist, 2/3/2020

Tanisha Harris at the 2019 HEMI Scholarship Dinner.

1.) What made you choose Cincinnati State?

What helped me to choose Cincinnati State was the knowledge I had acquired through high school. After I completed my first semester as a Freshman at Tennessee State University, I realized I wasn’t really sure that I wanted a four-year traditional degree, but I knew I wanted something more than a High School Diploma. I looked into trades Cincinnati State and saw that they offered great certificate programs; I just chose Welding. 


2.) What did you gain from earning your certificate? 

I’ve learned a lot from gaining my certificate, including 1) reading blueprints, 2) using  computer software to construct blue prints, 3) how to weld & prevent specific outcomes of welds, and 4) how to test welded parts. In conclusion, I also learned what employers are seeking from welders to attain a job in the field.


3.) How do you feel now you’ve completed the certificate program?

Now that I’ve completed the certificate, I am excited because I’m no longer the average laborer but one with a little more experience on top of the fact that I’m also finishing my Associate’s degree in Welding too. I understand that my credentials now will allow me to find a better job. I want to finish school so that once I start my career in the welding field, I won’t have to go back to school to acquire a higher rank. 


4.) How has HEMI supported your success?

There are so many things I could say because the HEMI staff are some of my biggest supporters. Their love & encouragement means everything. They are awesome and I love this organization for their support! More specifically, I enjoy their workshops, my program specialist, and all of the outside resources referred to me. They assist me to get extra help, even when my HEMI scholarship can’t cover everything I need.

Over the past few years, my HEMI scholarship made it possible for me to focus on academics without having to overwork myself. HEMI taught me how to budget money and save for emergencies. I also learned that no matter what happens in life, success starts within and if you really want something you have to go get it.

HEMI has also provided me the opportunity to meet wonderful people and utilize their stories as encouragement. I will always be grateful.


5.) Share about your post-secondary journey – What challenges did you face? What advice would you give to someone trying to graduate?

Thus far, I have had a couple bumps in the road. Right after high school I wasn’t sure where I was going in life. I did not know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to accomplish (and sometimes, I still don’t). I understand that I always want to be better than the average, so I decided to learn a set of trade skills that places me above average and allows me to make a greater amount of money, especially if I ever want to live outside of my comfort zone.

After deciding to leave Tennessee State University, I really only had my faith and belief in myself to determine my next steps. I came  back and started at Cincinnati State decided welding was my next step and I successfully completed the program to earn the certificate. I’m currently finishing my Associates and will be welding very soon!

If I could give advice to anyone trying to finish their education, I want to tell you that it’s best to go with your own heart, because things are going to always be tough. As long as you are satisfied with your decision, nothing or nobody can bring you down about your experience because your effort will determine your success.

Tanisha smiles ear to ear with gratitude for her quilt from My Very Own Blanket.
MVOB creates quilts for college students as a part of their mission.

#HEMIGRAD – Congrats Tanisha!

Keep following your heart!

*HEMI expresses our deep gratitude to Dress for Success and My Very Own Blanket for making an impact in our students’ lives. A very special thanks is extended to your volunteers!

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