Meet James Harnish
James received a Work Ethic Scholarship from mikeroweWORKS and currently attends York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I had a chance to chat with James about his past, present, and future. He is an impressive young man.
Like most kids, James didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I wanted to be a nurse, then a firefighter. It seemed to change every week.” The one thing that was certain was that James would be involved in the Boy Scouts.
His Grandfather was a Scout Master for 20 years, his dad was an Eagle Scout, and so it was no surprise that James would put in the hard work to make Eagle Scout himself. His favorite quote of Mike Rowe’s is “Only 1 out of 100 scouts make eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses.”
James’ Eagle Scout Project was building a 285-gallon rainwater collection system for a community garden. It took 387 hours to do. This was when James realized he wanted to work with his hands.
His senior year of high school he had two part time jobs, one of which was cleaning Gold’s Gym. “People would tell me it was disgusting, but I didn’t mind doing it.”
He had seen his older sister graduate Winthrop with a tremendous amount of debt and no job prospects. She got endless phone calls and letters from Sally Mae demanding repayment. For those of you not familiar with Sally Mae, she is not some sweet old aunt handing out tuition money in birthday cards but more like some Mafioso loan shark G-Man that will hunt you down until every dime has been paid in full. This made James realize that while he didn’t know exactly what the future would hold for him, large debt was certainly not going to be part of it. That’s when he decided he would learn a skilled trade.
His boss told James that he would waste himself at trade school and that he should go to “regular” college. His friends said the same thing. But James noticed something, “It seemed younger folks told me trade school was a bad idea, but the older guys said it was good.” He’s glad he took the older guys’ advice.
At 19 years old, James has his future mapped out pretty well. He’s pursuing three trades at York Tech; welding, machining and electrical. “Multiple trades make you more valuable,” he said. James plans to graduate in 2019 and there will definitely be jobs waiting for him when he does.
“America is bleeding for trade majors,” James said, “If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be getting job offers every week.” That’s right. He’s in his first year of trade school and he’s already getting offers! Currently, he has four standing job offers waiting.
I asked James what advice he’d give to his younger self and his answer knocked me out. “Don’t let anyone undermine you. Be the best you can be. If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help other people. “ Spoken like an true Eagle Scout.