“Don’t tell me that the sky is the limit when there’s footprints on the moon.”
-Paul Brandt
Ever since the second grade, I fantasized about life in space. As I grew older, this fascination with space continued and as I researched my future, I was led to pursue Aerospace Engineering. Not only am I intrigued by space itself, but I am also excited about its exploration.
My name is Yonus James Harris and I am a sophomore at the University of Michigan majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I grew up in a middle-class home in a comfortable and stable environment where I was encouraged to dream big and work hard. My parents pushed me to do my best as they grew up with limited choices and wanted more for me than they experienced. My Dad works at a paint shop for Chrysler, my Mom is a nurse, and they want me to live my best life, even if it means leaving footprints on the moon.
I was a shy kid in middle school, and while I did have friends, I was introverted and self-limited my experiences. During high school I pushed myself to do more, experience more. Not only did I become more social but I also joined more groups such as marching band, mock trial, I also joined volunteer organizations, such as the National Honors Society and Key Club. Through these experiences, I saw high school through a different lense – a social lense that I really enjoyed. In fact, my newly discovered social life propelled me to a higher level of competition and I graduated 11th out of 480 classmates. As a top student, I applied and was accepted into my dream school, the University of Michigan. It was my dream school because of its excellent engineering programs and reputation.
I entered Michigan with great expectation and enthusiasm; eager to learn to be an aerospace engineer. It was amazing, I was introduced to the M-Stem program where I met lots of new friends and many businesses/organizations partnered with the program. Not only have I gotten introduced to many new friends at the college before I started my freshman year, but I was able to talk and gather expertise from many different professionals with many experiences of their
own. But when the pandemic began, my new social world came to an abrupt end as we were all sent home to take classes remotely.
Remote classes not only discontinued my newfound social life, it completely disrupted my study process and forced me to find ways to use technology to redefine how I managed my study process. Zoom TA sessions, GroupMe, GoogleMeet, all became my new study aides. But I have to admit, the transition was painful – still is. The absence of physical meetings with my TAs, professors, and fellow students is maddening at times.
In spite of the major changes in my educational process, I’m excited to be a GlobalMinded Ambassador. Through Participation in the GlobalMindED Inclusive Leadership Program, I not only have an avenue to an incredible amount of opportunities from the GlobalMindED team, I also get the joy of talking to many people from different backgrounds and walks of life. From meeting my mentor introduced through the program, Lisa Neal-Graves, I have already learned the value of sharing my story and I am certain that I will gain a lot more insight and wisdom from her that will surely positively affect my career path – from both my mentor and the program as a whole going forward.
Taking in the lessons learned from my own experiences as well as others I will always strive to do my best. Through hard work, determination, and a strong will, I have always strived to achieve my goals, as this is the way of an Engineer. I will continue to learn and commit to hard work, always trying to make a positive change, and whether this change is large or small, a drop of water can ripple throughout an entire ocean.

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