Jason Harvey

Watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy and other similar television shows instilled a love of science in Jason Harvey, who is now sharing that passion with Apache children at Cradleboard Elementary School in Whiteriver as their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) instructor. He also serves as a caseworker for highly at-risk youth, from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Jason’s selection as the Fall 2015 Northland Pioneer College Outstanding Alumnus recognizes his commitment to education and service to our communities.

Jason Harvey
Jason Harvey

“I love doing science projects. I would watch Bill Nye and then try out the experiments on my own,” said Jason. He now guides the children at Cradleboard as they employ the scientific method – developing a hypothesis, researching and measuring results. He described a recent hot air balloon project, where the pupils used different materials for the balloon fabric, then presented their results/findings to the class using PowerPoint and other computer-aided programs. “We found a laundry bag made the best balloon. We’d hold it over the larger Bunsen burner and watch it fill up with air, then shoot to the roof of the gym when it was released.”

Harvey was also involved in last spring’s highly successful Innovation Nation event at the Chief Alchesay Center, highlighting STEM opportunities. “We have representatives from several colleges and universities, and the military explain the many STEM career opportunities. The Blue Ridge Robotics Club also brought their ‘bots and really impressed the kids.”

Having good science and math classes, regardless of career choice, “helps get yourself organized. You learn the step-by-step process of developing a hypothesis and measuring the outcomes, that can be applied to life.”

Jason admits he struggled with math at Blue Ridge High School. But when he enrolled in Gary Mack’s math classes at NPC, “the lights turned on.” Jason would spend hours talking and working with Mack as his teaching aid. As an NPC President’s Scholar, he appreciated the way instructor Ron Goulet encouraged him to “think outside the box.”

After earning his Associate of Arts degree from NPC in 2007, Jason transferred to NAU’s main campus in Flagstaff, where he continued his involvement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, begun while a ‘Big’ at Blue Ridge working with two ‘Littles.’ He recounts a 2009 experience working a very shy Hispanic boy. “We had a kickball game between the ‘Bigs” and ‘Littles.’ I could tell he was having a hard time getting into the game. So when it was my turn to kick, I swung my leg and fell on my back. The look on his face and seeing him laugh was priceless. After that, he started talking to me more … and my clumsiness gave him something to talk about with the other ‘Littles’.”

While at NAU, Jason joined the Black Student Union, building ties with people of a culture outside of his own Cherokee/Apache/Caucasian background.

But working two jobs and going to college full-time didn’t work for Jason, so he returned to the White Mountains, landing a job here his first day back through a friend from drama class in high school. However, he didn’t give up on his education, enrolling in the online Bachelor of Liberal Studies program through ASU, completing degree requirements in December 2014. He is weighing the cost of additional student loans versus potential increased lifetime income to obtain a master’s in childhood counseling.

Jason has an affinity with troubled youth. He grew up in a poor, rough neighborhood of Houston before his family relocated to the White Mountains after his freshman year in high school. “I enjoy working with kids with rough backgrounds and dysfunctional families, helping to get them on track.” This past summer, he commuted from his home near Hondah to Cibecue for a day camp. “The kids wanted to hike and do lots of things outdoors. They really gave me a workout,” said Jason, as he subconsciously rubbed his legs.

Jason also worked at NPC’s Whiteriver Center as a TLC aid in 2012-13, working with adults on GED preparation.

When he is not teaching or working with kids, Jason enjoys taking his dog for a walk or run in the wilderness area along the Rim Road by his home. He enjoys slowing down and just enjoying the serenity. He recounts frequently encountering herds of elk or deer and other wildlife. “There is so much to see and enjoy, if you just take the time to look and reflect.”

He is taking up archery, but still considers himself very much a novice. “I’m more likely to shoot out the tire on my vehicle than hit the intended target,” he says with a smile.

But he does enjoy creating ceramics, brought out in him in NPC classes with Lee Sweetman, Perry Wray and Dale Larson. He smiled widely when told he would receive a gift certificate good for three NPC credits and that Wray was still teaching ceramic classes.

In addition to the tuition certificate, Jason will also receive other mementos from the college, a plaque and a pass to NPC Performing Arts events.

Jason is the son of NPC Whiteriver Center manager Kelly Harvey-Brannon.

To read more about previous Outstanding Alumnus Award winners or to nominate an NPC graduate for this award, visit www.npc.edu/alumni-award-recipients.

By NPC Media Relations Coordinator Everett Robinson