Dear Family Member:
You may recall from our January 2017 newsletter that Mr. Harris gave a presentation to the Social Work Department of Oakwood University and was so impressed with the students that he created a scholarship fund for a student who would read his book, and write the best 2 to 3 page essay responding to his book. After receiving three excellent essays we have chosen a worthy recipient. Enclosed is her essay lightly edited:
Meet Nia Carrington…
I don’t think I can say that I deserve this scholarship more than any other student, but perhaps that’s the reason why I should be considered. I’m always going to put others before myself. This mindset is precisely why social work first appealed to me. I respect social workers so much, because they do such important work for little pay. Whenever I tell people my major they always say, “You know they don’t make much money?” Truly, if you’re doing it for the money it’s not the field for you.
My first year of college was harder than I expected, mentally. Relationships, school work, and the distance from my loved ones took me down a challenging road. Despite these setbacks I was able to achieve all A’s my freshman year. I plan to achieve future success by keeping God as my foundation and staying focused on my goals. This scholarship could help me advocate, intervene, and help people in need.
DeathDance is about the depleting life of Clifford Harris and his slow but sure rise to redemption. It starts with his Adventist upbringing and the morals he was taught and tried to uphold. Though, throughout his teen years we see signs of defiance, [and as] we get to see how his life falls apart we are also taken along in his journey to success.
From this book I learned about laying brick. I guess I never thought of it as a real job, but it was trade that supported Cliff’s family for essentially his whole life.
Another thing I learned from this book is that not all substance abuse rehabilitation centers are for the greater good of their patients. Synacore had very little effect on Cliff’s rehabilitation. Cliff excelled in that system but did not overcome his drug addiction.
[This] is a book with great educational value but also contains a riveting storyline. While reading for the life lessons and learning from Clifford Harris’ mistakes one can be captivated by the whirlwind called Harris’ life. The Christian values applied offers somewhat of a devotional feel. I recommend it to anyone who loves reading and gaining knowledge from what they read.
I finished up this book on the plane on the way home. As I was up in the air after finishing my first year as a college student I read Cliff’s quote, “He’d forgive me for all the crap I’d done in the past… I didn’t understand it until now… until I experienced it for myself”. This is easily my favorite quote, because I thought of how at the time Cliff didn’t know how God was blessing him. Then it all made sense and came into perspective, like a perfect story, but at the time it was just bits and pieces. From this lesson I learned that sometimes life isn’t great, but if you put your trust in God you can have the assurance that God has a specific plan set out for you.
Another lesson that really struck me was how after kicking his addiction and deciding to go back to the church Harris said, “I needed to stay focused on God and what we were trying to accomplish. I didn’t have the ability to do that while getting involved with females”. This is applicable to both males and females. If one is trying to better their life they need to be focused on themselves, a significant other can distract from a person’s growth. Also, one cannot thrive in a relationship if one is not right with oneself and God.
I think [this book] was aimed at people like me. Often young people think they need to grow wiser by making mistakes but there is an advantage to learning from others’ mistakes. I also learned the valuable lesson that it really is important who you hang around. Whatever you practice you will become and if you spend time with people who have no morals or goals you cannot prosper.
Drug abuse is a grave issue in the world today. I would consider drug rehabilitation as a future career choice. If there is a possibility that I could be what someone needs to help them with what can be considered a death sentence, then I would want to do all I could. I am a social work major and I strive to help anyone that is need. I think the book is entitled DeathDance because Cliff is in a constant battle with himself. He goes back and forth in his battle against drugs like a dance. Harris was only able to end this dance with death by the grace of God!