JIM PETERS: Merrillville's well-rounded Harris receives Cato scholarship

2014-04-24T17:00:00Z 2014-04-24T23:49:07Z JIM PETERS: Merrillville's well-rounded Harris receives Cato scholarshipJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 24, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

Motivational speakers tell us that people fall into one of two categories. There are those who are settlers and there are those who are reachers.

Merrillville's Myranda Harris is a reacher.

"I'm not the type of person to do something halfway," Harris said. "Everything I've done, I do (to) the best of my ability and if I can't do my best, I find someone who can teach me how to do my best. That's how I stay driven. That's the way my family is, how my mom (Leesa) raised me. We're always striving to do better. She's always pointing me in the right direction, pushing me to keep on the right track."

Thursday in Indianapolis, Harris was one of 13 seniors across the state to receive the Cato Memorial Scholarship, each receiving $2,500 in the name of former Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner C. Eugene Cato. The honor is given to student-athletes who have demonstrated excellence in academics, school and community involvement, character, sportsmanship and citizenship.

You can go right down that list and check each box for Harris. A 4.0 GPA student who earned seven letters between basketball and volleyball, she is a member of Merrillville's National Honor Society and athletic council as well as a peer tutor. She is involved in her church's outreach program, served as a volunteer coach with the Junior Pirate Elementary Basketball League and also took part in the Merrillville vs. Hunger initiative, serving food to the homeless.

"I always like to see other people succeed, too, especially in sports and school," Harris said. "I like those things and if there's someone who I know can be good at that one day, I like to include them in the things I take pleasure in. Sports for me isn't something that's hard. It's fun. It makes me happy."

Harris plans to make a career out of her difference-making attitude. She once aspired to be a cardiologist, but after going through three operations, two on her knees and one most recently on her shoulder, she was drawn to orthopedic surgery. She will attend the University of North Carolina with an academic scholarship.

"I like to be around athletes," she said. "I don't like injuries, but I like the idea of helping others recover from injuries."

Being the first student-athlete from her high school to receive the Cato scholarship is a distinction Harris doesn't take lightly. When Janis Qualizza informed her of the award, she was caught off guard, thinking Merrillville's athletic director was talking about her academic all-state selection for basketball.

"I was in disbelief when she told me," she said. "There have been so many others who have deserved it as well. To have ever thought I'd be the first one from Merrillville to get it, that's how big an honor it is."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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