By Victoria Merlino
When Brooklynite Nekhidia Harris was born, doctors gave her three days to live. Twenty-five years later, she’s looking forward to receiving a master’s degree in social work from York College.
Harris has an undiagnosed condition that left her bones brittle and her growth stunted — she stands today a little under three feet tall. However, she has worked to become a luminary in her community, starting a non-profit organization to provide health and educational services to those in need in Brooklyn, Haiti and the country of Jamaica, where Harris’ parents are from.
“Nothing’s off limits, whether you have a disability or not,” Harris told the Eagle.
Harris and her sister Kimberly started the Harris Family Vision Foundation in 2007, establishing a free health clinic in Saint Ann Parish, the largest parish in Jamaica, in 2012. She is also active at Rehoboth Open Bible Church in East Flatbush, where she sometimes delivers sermons.
A commitment to serving others runs deep for Harris. She said she hopes to become a social worker for the New York City Department of Education. She currently interns in York’s Office of Veteran Affairs, helping veterans navigate college life and she’s looking forward to graduating in the spring.
Though working with veterans is a new venture for her, she said she enjoys the work, and wants to continue to grow her understanding of others.
“I wanted to expand myself,” she said. “As a social worker, I feel like I should not only be in one box, but expand.”
Harris wants others who hear her story to be empowered to control their own future.
“Once you have people that support you, you can go a long way. And don’t let anybody stop you because of what you’ve gone through or what you’re going to do. Support yourself. Empower yourself,” she said.