May 16, 2012
2012 Graduate: Benjamin Harper
Benjamin Harper is living proof that it is never too late to
change the direction of your life or achieve goals that may seem
“Eight years ago I was a high school dropout,” said the recent biology graduate. “I only later got my GED when I was 20 so that I could join the military, and the main reason I joined the military was because I had lost the only decent paying job I could find at the time and couldn't afford rent.”
For the next five years, the McDonough, Ga., native served the U.S. Navy and U.S. Navy Reserve. He became a student at Valdosta State University in 2009 and immediately excelled.
Harper’s accomplishments at VSU include membership with Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Chi and Golden Key honor societies, the 2011 Mack Varnedoe Greer Sr. M.D. Scholarship Award, and membership with the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society. Harper also participated in a study abroad program, studying aquatic toxicology in Ireland in 2011. In addition, one of his research papers has been submitted to several peer-reviewed biology journals. Harper’s diligence and achievements were recognized when he was nominated for the 2012 Annie Powe Hopper Award, VSU’s most prestigious award presented to an undergraduate student.
As an officer with Alpha Epsilon Delta, Harper has participated in several volunteer opportunities such as Relay for Life, Make a Difference Day, and VSU’s Science Saturday programs. He has also continued 11 years of formal piano lessons while at VSU, and recently gave a full solo concert during spring semester.
Harper’s next step includes attending the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University this fall.
“I want to be a doctor,” said Harper. “When people used to ask me, ‘What are you going to college for?’ I was always scared of jinxing myself so I never wanted to reply that I was going to be a doctor. Now that I've actually been accepted to medical school, it feels really good to be able to confidently tell people what I'm doing.”
Harper strongly encourages anyone who is seeking direction in life to avoid becoming complacent.
“I was a dropout eight years ago. However, this year I'm graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Biology and attending medical school. Don't get me wrong, a major improvement in work ethic isn't going to happen overnight, but you can achieve your goals if you're really motivated enough,” Harper said. “Even if you have to take a few years off of school while you figure out what you want to do, it’s never too late to decide later you want to return or do something different.”