The email began, “Congratulations!” but it did not go on to offer vast wealth, courtesy of some Nigerian prince.
Instead it was the genuine article.
Northland High School senior Nathan Harris and his mother, Nicole, were elated.
“I jumped with excitement, and I read it to my mother and we were both celebrating vividly and wildly,” recalled Nathan, who turns 18 on Feb. 23.
The cause of all the excitement and the congratulations was word that Nathan had been named the 2014 National Society of Black Engineers Gold Torch Award recipient for Pre-College Initiative Male Student of the Year.
Torch stands for Technical OutReach Community Help, according to the website of the National Society of Black Engineers, which is billed there as the “the premier organization serving African Americans in engineering and technology.”
“As a technical community service association, NSBE is the link between the African American community and the world of technology,” the site states. “NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of professionals, students and pre-college students.
“The mission the founders set forth in 1975, ‘To increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community,’ has blossomed into an organization with chapters worldwide.”
Nathan is a member of the Northland High School NSBE Junior Chapter.
He said he and all the others in the chapter will get to travel to Nashville, Tenn., where he and the other Torch Award recipients will be honored March 29 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Nathan, who lives downtown with his mother, attends Northland High School because of its prestigious marching band program. He has been a drum major.
He said last year’s male high school Torch Award winner received a substantial scholarship from a large corporation, and he’s hoping the same thing comes about for him.
He said last week that his interest in engineering stems from when he was very young and played with – and took apart – household electronics. By the time he was in middle school and understood what engineering was, he said, he had decided that’s what he wanted to do.
Nathan wants to study computer engineering and computer science.
He hopes to get into Morehouse College in Atlanta, a private, all-male, historically black liberal arts school. He wants to get into a specific program that would have him take three years of classes at nearby Georgia Tech and then two years at Morehouse to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering.