Alumni Spotlight: Jarod Harris

Jarod Harris Shares Technology with Tanzania

By Stephanie Sharpe |   November 2010

Jarod Harris , Alumnus

Jarod Harris knows computers. He knows how they work and how they can benefit a person, a school or even a community. When he heard that a group of volunteers would be heading to Iringa, Tanzania to set up computers in the local schools, he jumped on the opportunity.

Jarod holds a UMUC bachelor's degree in Information Systems Management and currently works as an IT specialist for the U.S. government. It was when he learned about a local nonprofit organization that he found the perfect opportunity to use his expertise to help those in need. The organization, Research Technology Associates, Inc. (RTA), collects and distributes used computers and equipment to churches and schools in New Carrollton, Maryland. However, on occasion RTA goes abroad and shares its computers with schools and students in Africa. Seizing the opportunity to get involved on a global level, Harris traveled to Iringa, Tanzania as an RTA volunteer in May of 2008.

While in Tanzania, Jarod and the other RTA volunteers teamed up with Global Outreach, a Florida-based nonprofit organization. Together, the groups visited various schools in the area to provide laptops, computers and equipment. They also fixed any problems occurring on the machines set up on previous visits.

By the end of the trip, Jarod's team was able to contribute 16 working computers and monitors, along with several printers. They also set up an Internet-capable information library for the students of the Kichangani All-Girls Secondary School in Iringa.

"We traveled by car—an '86 Fiat Panda—to transport loads of equipment and did everything by hand," says Jarod. "We even created the CAT-5 Ethernet cable and wiring in the offices and classrooms."

Harris uses knowledge acquired at UMUC not only in daily life and on the job, but also in a broader manner by helping the community and world around him.

“I am currently active in my community as a mentor to at-risk youth in Washington, D.C. with the Alternatives For Crime Scholarship Foundation, Inc.," says Jarod. "I saw this as another way to give back to those less fortunate than myself."

Grateful that his degree has led to him to such meaningful opportunities, Jarod notes, “I honestly believe that my road to success in the computer field would have been much more difficult, had I not obtained my bachelor’s degree from UMUC.”