Natasha Harris

14-year-old me would be in awe of the person I am now, less than 24 hours away from walking the graduation stage and moving my tassel from the right side to the left. While SAS only accounts for the last two years of my high school experience, my time at SAS is marked by my biggest successes, moments of personal growth, overcoming personal and academic challenges, learning independence, developing long-lasting friendships, and joy. SAS, to me, is synonymous with opportunity, family, support, and a place to dream.

Opportunity at SAS means having the academic freedom and flexibility to take classes within (and outside) your interests at Miami Dade College, exploring those subjects in depth beyond the limitations of a typical high school curriculum. Being at SAS means having the opportunity to earn the credits needed to graduate with your Associate Degree before your high school diploma. Opportunities at SAS include SAT prep support, AP exam reviews, office hours with teachers, peer tutoring, the list goes on. And beyond the classroom, SAS also demonstrates a strong commitment to service, with Silver Knight coordinator Mr. Lindsay encouraging students to develop their own service projects.

While untraditional in its approach, I wouldn’t trade my time at SAS for the world. Are there football games or pep rallies? No. But at what school can you say you’ve watched The Nutcracker in the MDC North Lehman Theater between classes? Listened to Nicolas Cage discuss film and society with other Miami Dade College students during lunch? Watched your teachers and counselor Dr. Townsel, Mrs. Hauser, and Dr. Mar’s dance battle during North’s annual talent show, with Mr. Green avoiding the dance floor at all costs?

I’ve never been in an environment more supportive, collaborative, and inclusive. All of my teachers, and particularly my counselor, Dr. Townsel, have encouraged me to chase my dreams despite feelings of uncertainty or self-doubt. Mrs. Hauser has sparked an interest in computer science and strengthened my interest in statistics, Dr. Mar and I have geeked out over Chinese history, and Mr. Green and I have spent time during his office hours discussing literature, scholarship/college applications, and other academic opportunities. Because of their unwavering support, I’ve decided to take a risk in pursuit of something new and challenging, where I’ll be taking a gap year to study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Academic Year Program.

All of the honors, awards, and recognition can’t be compared with the immeasurable ways in which SAS has left me academically and personally enriched. As I enter a new chapter in my life, when I look back at the memories I’ve made at SAS, I feel proud to call myself a White Tiger.

Natasha Harris
School for Advanced Studies North, Class of 2023
Duke University, Class of 2028