This Georgia Alum Is Still Advising Students, Years After His Service

Lawrence Harris never planned to become the youngest leader of a charter school career academy in Georgia. He never planned to found a nonprofit college preparation organization in his college town. He never planned to work in education at all.

As a senior at the University of Georgia in 2012, he planned to help fight an AIDS epidemic in California.

But then he got an email about College Advising Corps, and he had a new plan: to serve as an adviser and help low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented high school students get to college. Lawrence served at Clarke Central High School in Athens from 2012-14.

“It turned out to be something I truly loved,” he said.

Lawrence loved it because he saw himself in the students he served.

“I liked the opportunity to work with students in a capacity that was directly related to my own experience trying to access higher education,” he said. “Especially as a first-generation student, I knew what that was like.”

And he loved it because he saw how it addressed the larger issue of poverty and inequity among the community in Athens, Georgia.

“Education is one of the most important ways we can reach them and turn the child’s life around,” he said.

Lawrence’s work was highlighted at a college access event at the White House in 2014. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Harris.

His experience as an adviser made such an impact on Lawrence that, after his service, he stayed in Clarke County and founded a college access nonprofit.

The College Factory Inc. is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide college and career planning resources to students in Clarke County. College students from UGA, Athens Technical College, and Piedmont College serve as mentors for high school students. The high schoolers can also attend ACT prep and college access workshops, and they’re eligible for a $1,000 college scholarship.

In 2015, he also became the CEO of the Athens Community Career Academy, a charter high school in Clarke County where students can dually enroll in UGA or Athens Technical while they complete their high school diploma.

“So much of what I’m doing now is because of my experience with College Advising Corps,” Lawrence said. “I was being developed as a professional and a leader at the same time I was helping students get ready for college.”

And even though it’s not his primary job, he’s still advising the younger generation on how to get to college.

“My family expects me to be their college adviser,” he said, laughing. “Students who walk into my office ask about it. It always reminds me about where I started, how much I love it. I don’t think I ever want it to not be a part of my life.”

College Advising Corps works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education.

Learn more about what CAC does. Learn more about where CAC works