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Posted by Melissa Wickes on March 23, 2017
The last time I ran into Neil Harris on campus, I asked him what he was up to, to which he responded: "Making connections." Neil believes that his opportunity to learn goes far beyond the realms of the classrooms here at Binghamton University. Through community involvement, fundraising and relationship-building, Neil has certainly left his mark on Binghamton -- but he's not quite done leaving his mark on the world.
Photo: Neil speaking at open house about why he is proud to be a Bearcat
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y. ("The best borough")
Major: Marketing and Leadership
Club/organization involvement: Works on the App Cconnect, SA Innovation Consultant, Enactus Project Leader, School Pride Committee, Co-founder of Creativity+, Committee on the University Environment, Student Rep for the Campus Appearance Task Force, Res-Life Marketing Consultant, Broome County Urban League Strategic Intern
Long-term goal: "To one day open a community center that provides an open and inviting atmosphere for its members. Might take a couple of decades!"
Neil's busiest day:
7 a.m. -- Wake up and go to the gym
8:30 a.m. -- Eat breakfast, watch 30 Rock and check emails
9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. -- Be a student
1:30-4:30 p.m. -- Plant seeds for future projects, work on upcoming events (logistics, marketing, organizing)
4:30 p.m. -- Meet with the Committee for the University Environment
5:15 p.m. -- Work on Cconnect with Treymane Stuart and JC Wu
6 p.m. -- Meet with Creativity+ and plan iFest+ with VPMA Jermel McClure
7:30 p.m. -- Enactus meeting
8:30 p.m. -- Make phone calls to loved ones
9 p.m. -- Eat dinner with Jon (a.k.a. Swindle) followed by a bowl of cereal
Photo: Speaking about finding core competency at LaunchBING, an entrepreneurship event
What made you decide to major in marketing and leadership?
"It started with a journey to Texas. I landed an internship with a technology company called Ericsson, so I traveled to their headquarters in Dallas. While I was there, 33 intern teams across North America participated in a competition – The Intern Showcase. I was in charge of branding our team and developing the story for the final competition. I had so much fun and I loved every minute of it. After we received first place, I had the confidence to switch my major from accounting to marketing, something that I thought was too risky before. I tacked on leadership after meeting professor (Kimblerly) Jaussi. She believes in her students and helps empower them to be the best versions of themselves."
Why do you spend so much time working outside of class?
"Classrooms are great, but there is no better way to learn than through experience. It also helps a lot that I really enjoy the people I work with! One group I really like working with is Chris Woloshyn and the community government presidents. We work on a few projects together, but the main one is a video project for incoming freshmen. The purpose of the videos is to capture the spirit of each community and help incoming freshmen choose the one they think will be the best fit. While interviewing the presidents, I am constantly impressed by the level of service they provide to their communities. They care and create a positive impact. I find a lot of meaning in working with people like that. Kudos!"
What is one of the projects that you are most proud of?
"I started an initiative called Creativity+ with Noah Brenner, Adam Wilkes and Logan Abrams to help connect students to Binghamton in the beginning of the fall 2016 semester. I created a survey with my market research professor, Mr. Park, and with the help of the community governments we got feedback from over 850 students on their experience. President Stenger gave me the opportunity to present this data to him, and afterwards asked me how I thought we should address the observations. The result was a marketing campaign with filmmakers Oliver, Chris, Matt and Mike that consisted of three videos and over 7,500 views, an event put together by Enactus, BTV and the Creativity+ team (Rebecca, Kester, Kennina, Stephanie, Adin and James) that packed the house. We also had a front-page article in Pipe Dream written by Allison. I think we all left feeling closer to Binghamton and hopefully helped others feel the same, which was the mission!"
Photo: The Talk+ team: Mike Strack, Chris Woloshyn, Rebecca Ho, Ryan Vaughan, Harvey Stenger, Kester Francis, Neil Harris and James Kuo
Do you have any special plans for this semester?
"My friends and I are working on fundraising $50k for a local non-profit, the Broome County Urban League. The Urban League helps empower the urban poor through job training, certification courses, after school programs and more. We set a high goal because we want to get as many students involved as possible. The University is growing and I think it’s fair to say that we should grow with those who need it most in the area. If we got $3 per student, we’d hit our goal; that’s it! Ariel Kutcher, my friend from Chabad, helped make half of the proceeds from the Purim Carnival go to the Urban League. Other ways we are working toward our goal involve the planning of an upcoming festival called iFest+, working on a tech-house event and a lot more. Some people helping out with these events include Treymane, Jermel, Wes, Roni, Divyae and Shawn."
Photo: Neil DJ'ing at Nowhere, a fundraiser for the Broome County Urban League spearheaded by his teammates Shawn Scott, Divyae Sharma and Roni Pitkowsky.
· Favorite food: Pad thai
· Recommended read: Man’s Search for Meaning
· Favorite Albums of 2016: Cleopatra by the Lumineers, Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper
· Favorite movies: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rush Hour, Kung Fu Panda
· Has worked in Florida, Texas and New York City
· Took a spontaneous trip to Hungary in order to explore the European rave culture
· Coordinates music for philanthropy events, including Binghamton’s Dance Marathon, Fashion For a Cure, The Color Run and more
· Does motivational speaking on campus
· Has always been tall, so he never learned how to swim
What do you like to do in your spare time?
"Exercise with Andrew, read, watch a movie or beat Ceasar in foosball."
Photo: Members of the Creativity+ team.
What is your most memorable moment at Binghamton University?
"I was DJ’ing for Café O’Spacis on my 20th birthday. It was one of the earlier time slots, so when I started mixing the dance floor was empty. I just lowered my head and got in the zone. An hour later I looked up and the whole place was shuffling and grooving. The best part was seeing all my closest friends: Daniel, Jacob, Skylar, Liam, Danny, Bill and more. They all started singing "Happy Birthday" and the crowd joined in. It was easily my most memorable moment and best birthday ever; friendship took on a new meaning that night."
Photo: Speaking on goal-setting to the Hinman College Council
What is your advice for students?
"Facebook generated a quote for me and I really liked it:
'Love what you have. Accept what you receive. Always remember: what goes around comes around.'"
Melissa Wickes is a senior from East Williston, N.Y., majoring in English--creative writing. She is a member of the a cappella group The Vibes, Alpha Epsilon Phi and she enjoys exploring new cheeses in her spare time.
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