Chrystal Harris ‘06 didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do when she arrived at Kettering University, but she knew it was the place to help her make a difference.
From management positions to nursing and education, Harris has taken her Kettering career with her to find what she loves to do.
Born and raised in Flint, Harris had the opportunity to attend pre-college summer camps at Kettering designed for middle school and high school females. The welcoming staff and overall environment drew her in.
“I liked that I wasn’t going to get lost on a big campus. I really liked the small town feel. It felt like a family environment,” she said. “For me, studying out of state wasn’t an option. My family is my support system.”
Harris was also impressed by the prestige of the Kettering University name.
“Even today, the Kettering name raises eyebrows in the professional setting. Being a Kettering graduate has afforded me many opportunities,” she added.
Harris started off as an Computer Engineering major at Kettering, but she soon realized it wasn’t for her. She knew she wanted to stay at Kettering so she switched to a Management major with a concentration in Marketing.
With that Marketing background and experience, Harris was able to continue to grow her career paths throughout the years.
Harris spent her co-op at Eaton Aeroquip working with labor and logistics. Her first job after graduating from Kettering was at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems in Jackson, Michigan, where she was a manager.
Shortly after she moved back to Flint and became a program manager at the Crim Fitness Foundation, managing youth programs and races. Thinking about her career further, Harris decided to take an accelerated nursing program, first for her bachelor’s degree and then her masters.
She was a registered nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint and is now an Adjunct Clinical Faculty at University of Michigan-Flint and a registered nurse with Flint Community Schools. She was specifically hired to provide enhanced care to children in the public schools after the Flint Water Crisis.
“I always felt like I was a natural born leader, so the Management major serves me pretty well especially now as a nurse,” Harris said.
At her current position in the Flint schools, Harris works with elementary students who had high levels of lead found in their blood systems because of the water crisis in the city. She works with families to make sure students get what they need to be healthy and stay on pace in school.
“I really enjoy patient care and enjoy caring for families, while being able to educate,” Harris said. “I’m committed to this area. This is where I was born and raised. I love providing care for the city and my heart is here.”
Although it took Harris a few different paths to find her passion, she said being willing to try different opportunities was important to her journey.
Harris said she thrived on variety, so nursing was a great choice for her. There are many career paths within the nursing profession, all of which allow her to use the experience gained from her time at Kettering.
“At Kettering you learn how to present yourself as a young professional. The co-op experiences for me were really invaluable,” Harris said. “I grew up pretty sheltered, so the college experience as a whole was great for me. It really acclimated me to different cultures and people from various backgrounds.”
Harris didn’t take a straight path in figuring out what she loves to do. But it was a great learning experience.
Her advice to students is to keep moving forward.
“I would encourage them to finish what they start. You never know where your career path will lead you,” Harris said. “Remain open to a diverse career path, and take every opportunity to connect with the student body. They will be your colleagues and professional resource pool one day.”