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APSU student awarded high honor at conference

After surviving 23,000 volts of electricity that led to the loss of his hands and going through 25 surgeries, Austin Peay State University student Michael Harris says, "The thing I am proud of is that within the first hour after being out for two weeks, I decided I would be a teacher and a football coach, and here I am. I have made it happen."
After surviving 23,000 volts of electricity that led to the loss of his hands and going through 25 surgeries, Austin Peay State University student Michael Harris says, "The thing I am proud of is that within the first hour after being out for two weeks, I decided I would be a teacher and a football coach, and here I am. I have made it happen."

Harris is the recipient of the 2007 Tennessee Association for Developmental Education Award, given to an outstanding alumnus of a developmental education program. He accepted the award at the annual conference of the Tennessee Association for Developmental Education, held Oct. 26 in Gatlinburg. He also spoke to developmental educators about his love of teaching, working hard and giving back to the community.

The award recognizes a developmental education student who has distinguished himself or herself in other areas of life. Kay Haralson, a longtime developmental mathematics faculty member at Austin Peay, nominated Harris for the award.

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance at APSU, Harris coaches football at Creekwood High School in Charlotte, where he also is a student teacher. At APSU, Harris has made the Dean's List six semesters, maintaining a grade-point average of 3.72. He also is the 2006 recipient of the University's Student Leadership Valor Award.

In a letter of support for Harris, Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate professor of education at APSU, wrote, "It is obvious that despite any physical challenges posed by his disability, he approaches life with a strong conviction to overcome any potential barriers to achieving his goals."

Also supporting Harris for the award, Dr. Marcy Maurer, interim chair and professor of health and human performance, stated in her letter, “Michael selected teaching as a profession because of his passion for children and a strong desire to learn.”

“Though his disability was physical, he chose a major that required use of hands and arms,” Maurer wrote. “His disability would always disappear once class began, whether in the classroom or gymnasium. He knew how to adapt, and all of us would learn as we watched Michael succeed." -- Contributed by Kay Haralson, APSU