Daphnie Harrison remembers the night of June 21, 2018 like it was last night. She was dressed in her cap and gown, taking part in Cicero-North Syracuse High School's graduation ceremony inside OCC's SRC Arena. As she listened to her class Valedictorian and Salutatorian give their speeches, she paused a moment to daydream. "I thought it would be so cool to be the person speaking and representing the students. But I never thought I could do it. When I was at C-NS I didn't give myself as much credit as I should have."
Two years later, Harrison is getting her opportunity. She's been selected Student Speaker for OCC's 2020 Commencement. "When I found out I had been chosen it was amazing. It filled my heart with joy. The blessings never end here."
Harrison's list of accomplishments during her time on campus is impressive. While pursuing her Human Services degree, she was a member of the Women's Lacrosse team and also worked at the Southwest YMCA. In April she learned she had been named Curriculum Honoree, or the top student, in her degree program. "It was such an honor. It proved to me all of my hard work paid off. I wasn't working hard to win an award. I didn't even know it existed! I was working hard for my future and to win this was amazing."
Harrison decided on her career path before arriving at OCC. While she was growing up she struggled with a family member who had ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and was bi-polar. "I found myself out of the purity of my heart just being there for him and helping him continue in life. His situation broke my heart. I wanted to be the change in the world. We need people with good hearts. I decided to go into Human Services so I can become a Social Worker and be that person to listen to and to help them continue."
She chose OCC because of its outstanding Human Services degree program and the opportunity to stay close to home. She lives with her mother and the rest of their family is in Puerto Rico. "She's my everything. I couldn't picture myself not being around her and listening to her advice."
During her final semester the COVID-19 pandemic happened, forcing all classes online. She continued to work hard and took it upon herself to encourage her classmates to make the most of the opportunity. "I used it as a learning experience and learned things I didn't know. I was able to help my friends and tell them 'things are tough right now but you need to use this time to work within yourself.'"
In a few weeks Harrison will begin pursuing her bachelor's degree in Social Work at Syracuse University. Two years later, she will start working toward her masters degree. Her goal is to be a leader within the profession who colleagues turn to for guidance. "I want to be able to help people the best that I can. I want to be the person co-workers come to and ask for advice. I want to have that knowledge to help the people I'm working with help clients."