Finding Her Passion
Noel Harmon currently serves as the President and Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholars (APIA). However, her journey to finding this role is made up of a variety of positions in post-secondary education, student affairs, and teaching. It was through these different roles that she was able to explore barriers to higher education and begin developing ideas of how to support minority students so that they might flourish in a college setting. She has an incredible sense of calling to aid these students and provide them with the resources necessary to help them on the road to success.
Life as a Student
In 1999, Noel began her journey at Ball State by pursuing a Master of Arts in Student Affairs Administration. During her program, she worked in student residential life because she believes that the best way to learn is to do. Under one of the resident directors, Noel saw firsthand how far being intentional with students and how truly caring for them inspired them to do their best work. This way of working with people is something that she has continued throughout her career.
Inside the Classroom
Noel loved her time in the graduate program at Ball State University. According to Noel, The professors here treated all of the graduate students like professionals. She remembers that inclusivity was a major theme within her department and the university as a whole. In the Student Affairs Administration MA program, students were given the opportunity to participate in a practicum of their choosing. This was just one aspect of the experiential learning that was prioritized. When Noel wanted to pursue an internship outside of the education department, they saw no reason why she shouldn’t be able to do so. Her professors worked hard to make every opportunity a possibility for all students, allowing each student’s education to be tailored to their goals and future career paths.
“Everyone had a seat at the table. Everyone’s opinions were both respected and expected. This was a huge part of the culture at Ball State.” – Noel Harmon
Roger Wessel, a now retired Professor of Higher Education, was a huge supporter of Noel. She greatly appreciated his intentionality and support of the individual success of all students. From him, she learned a great deal about how to identify her personal values and honor them while also respecting the broader world perspective and accepting all students for who they are. During her time as a student at Ball State, Noel was able to challenge and develop her own ideas about student encouragement, inclusivity, community living, and the experience of low-income, first-generation students. Her hope is that Ball State will continue to cultivate students to achieve their dreams while making a difference in the world.
“It has been a pleasure to see all of the growth Ball State has had in the past 20 years. This campus is a powerhouse and should pride itself on staying with the times. I am proud to be a graduate of Ball State University.” – Noel Harmon
Challenging the Future
The APIA Scholars is the nation’s only higher education student success organization focused on supporting Asian and Pacific Islander students. Noel has found that her current role has been an amazing opportunity to combine all of her experiences and passions in a way that serves others. Through this organization over 7,200 scholarships have been awarded and 1.13 million Asian American and Pacific Islander students have been enrolled in undergraduate education. They continue to empower their community through mentorship and volunteer programs, as well as creating the space to have important conversations about the barriers these students face when trying to access higher education.
Under Noel Harmon and the other incredible staff members of this organization, the APIA Scholars will continue their work in educating, elevating, and empowering ethnic minorities to allow for both college and career success in this community. Their hard work has already touched the lives of so many and will continue its impact for many years to come. There is no doubt that many students here at BSU will be encouraged by Noel’s story and follow in her footsteps to be a catalyst of change and community growth.