By: Becky Fertitta
Read the full September issue of Viewpoints.
To say Harold Booker has been a busy young man during his life would be an understatement. Harold has always been at the ready, eager to take part and willing to take on new challenges. Never satisfied with participating in one or two important activities, he has wanted to do it all, and by my estimation, he really has. Even so, at the young age of 21, there is so much more to come for this incredible young man.
So who is Harold Booker? Harold is one of “ours,” as I like to say—a special young man whom we have known and loved since he began at the museum as a junior interpreter back in 2005. Harold comes from what he calls a “very large blended family,” and when asked about his siblings remarks that there are “too many to count if we’re including step-siblings!” “It took a village to raise me,” he quips, and those of us who have known Harold all these years humbly feel that we are a small part of that village.
During Harold’s seventh-grade year at Odom Middle School, he toured the McFaddin-Ward House for the first time. The experience included interaction with one of the junior interpreters; he was hooked from that point forward. He admits that he “had always loved history and it was something to do” and that the museum piqued his interest. We laugh that he needed something more to do, even as a seventh grader.
Harold was in high school before I realized just how busy he kept himself. When I recently asked about his activities in middle school, he rattled off a list that would make the most involved volunteer’s head swim. Most of his “things to do” continued throughout his middle- and high-school years: choir – both school and church—Bible Club, Teen Court, Mock Trial, Varsity Soccer, NAACP, National Honor Society, Junior Statesman of America, and Top Teens.
While at Odom Academy, Harold participated in the Pegasus Program, which allowed him to complete high school early. In his junior year, he entered the Texas Academy of Leadership in Humanities at Lamar University, “a highly selective, early college entrance program for gifted and talented students.” Harold thrived in this program, which is one of only two residential programs for high school students recognized by the Texas State Legislature. When he graduated from the program at age 19, he had already earned two years of college credits.
Harold’s plan was to finish his degree at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and he made that dream a reality. His goal of attending the college had started in third grade, when he heard Al Price, state representative, community leader, and Morehouse graduate, speak about the school. Morehouse is the only all-male historically black institution of higher learning in the U.S. Harold was attracted to the college as a place for “movers and shakers” and leaders; and remembering Price’s words, knew it was the perfect place for him. He took on Morehouse and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs in just two years, recently returning home for a short time to celebrate his accomplishments and to rest (we hope). Harold maintained his busy schedule while in Atlanta and participated in not only the world-famous Morehouse College Glee Club, but also the College Republicans, Chinese Club, Political Science Association, Business Association, Environmental Club, and of course, the Texas Club.
So what comes next for this outstanding young man? There will likely be more school, as his aim is to obtain a master’s degree in either Public Affairs or Business Administration; and he would like to stay in Texas to do it. He admits that he has not ruled out settling in Beaumont nor a career in politics, and we can see that his options are as open and varied as his interests. Harold has shown that taking part is good and important—it not only opens doors for you, it makes you a person who can be taken seriously.
We know that no matter which path he chooses, Harold will be a success. He has proven it to everyone, from the village of family members who raised him, to his mentors and teachers along the way, Harold wants to do it all, and indeed he can.
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