Chad Harris, C’18, started his college experience like many typical 18 year olds. He graduated high school and went away to college. He was studying architecture at Florida A&M. And then, like many typical nontraditional students, life intervened. He dropped out, returned home to Richmond and started working.

Harris returned to school at Reynolds Community College in his thirties. He completed a variety of programs at Reynolds over the years, including several IT industry certifications. Although it wasn’t something he had originally considered, Harris decided to transfer to UR’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS) in 2014 to complete his bachelor’s degree.

Harris had put off returning to school for years. He never thought of himself as a great student or thought he'd be able to fit school into his busy life, but he liked the opportunities SPCS offered adult students. The admissions and transfer process was easy. The staff were incredibly personable, and he liked the way it all made him feel.

Once he jumped in, he never looked back and is this year’s top IT Management graduate, having earned the department’s McDonald Davis, Jr. Book Award. This success didn’t come easy, and it continues to surprise him. Harris says it’s a constant challenge to balance working full time, raising a large blended family with his wife, and going to school. He credits his family and the faculty and staff at SPCS to helping to foster his success in the classroom.

“My family has been immensely helpful,” says Harris. “The staff at the University has guided me through and helped me to gain the confidence I needed to actually do this.”

Harris, 42, works as a senior systems engineer at HCA Healthcare. He manages disaster recovery and back up for HCA’s Capital Division. He credits earning his bachelor’s degree at UR with helping to advance his career.

“Coming to the University of Richmond… helped me formulate ways to communicate with my coworkers and bosses more effectively and efficiently,” reflects Harris. “That was on thing that opened new doors at work for me.”

In addition to opening new doors, returning to school and completing his bachelor's degree has given Harris a newfound confidence, one he plans to take with him to graduate school next fall.