Cathedral valedicatorian follows her passion for art

Published 12:27 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School valedictorian Deja Harris has a plan for her life drawn out.

In a month and a half, she will be packing her bags and heading to Jackson to attend Belhaven University on a full-tuition scholarship.

She will major in art and minor in psychology to one day become an art therapist. Harris said she chose Belhaven because it has one of the best art programs in the state, and because the school felt like a place she would want to be.

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“I want to go into art therapy because I’ve always been interested in the mind and have always wanted to help people in the mental health format, and art is my passion,” Harris said.

However, Harris said getting to this point was no easy task.

“I just always did my best with everything, and I always did what I could do to the best of my abilities before I asked for help,” Harris said. “I’m just that person that puts my all into everything I do, and I’m not afraid to ask for help when I know I need it.”

Harris said she would regularly ask her English teacher, Cheryl Hunt, for help, and Hunt always provided insight in bettering her work.

“(She) helped a lot,” Harris said. “She would check over essays, and you could talk to Ms. Hunt any time.”

The class of 2016 graduated from Cathedral on May 20, with Harris addressing them.

She said that graduation is one of her favorite memories from high school.

“It was a time when (our class) was all together in one place doing the same thing,” Harris said. “We were all happy we were done with high school. We got over that one milestone together. It was one time our class was just one unit.”

Harris found out she would be representing her class as valedictorian three days before graduation and hurriedly wrote her speech.

“The best part of my whole speech was taking a selfie (with my class),” Harris said. “Other than that, my main points were be prepared for failure, don’t allow others to dampen your beliefs and give back to others.”

Harris said giving back to others was an important part of her life, and she was actively involved with Key Club throughout her time at Cathedral. She was secretary of the club her freshman and sophomore years, treasurer her junior year and president her senior year.

Harris said she hopes to join a similar service organization when she starts school at Belhaven in the fall.

While in college, Harris said she hopes to keep up good grades as she did in high school and look into starting a greek letter organization.

“I know (college) is going to be harder,” Harris said. “But, I’m still going to put my 110 percent into it.”

Harris is from Port Gibson and the daughter of Tammy and David Harris.