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Grant Harris ’06: Why I VMI

Why I VMI: Grant Harris ’06


When looking for colleges, Grant Harris ’06 purposefully chose VMI. “My parents didn’t ship me off to military school,” he said. “I made a choice on my own … even in high school, I never wanted college to be the best four years of my life; I wanted to set myself up for the next 40.”  

At VMI, he received an outstanding education, played a sport he loves—football—and built a network he still relies on today. After graduatinga time when many young alumni run away from VMIHarris chose to get involved and help with that most valuable of all resources: Time. He began volunteering with the VMI Alumni Association.  

His volunteer work, Harris said, has been “a progression. It started with me asking questions, and raising my hand to say, ‘Put me where I can help.’ ‘What can I do?’ ‘Who can I speak to?’ ‘How can I make VMI a better place?’” 

Harris’ early volunteer work has led to his current position, chairing the Alumni Association’s new Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee. The subcommittee was created to address representation, leadership, and education within the Alumni Association. He’s not concerned with titles, Harris said—but with “the work that’s actually being done.” 

“What we want to do is to help all cadets and all alumni feel welcome, respected, and celebrated,” he explained, noting that the subcommittee’s work is difficult and will take time. “But, it’s an honor and a privilege for me to be able to lead this work.” 

When negative media stories about VMI were published in fall 2020, he was curious—there are always two sides to each story. At the same time, he saw the publicity as an opportunity for VMI. “I hoped VMI could be a beacon of light in the darkness of those negative things,” he said. “I was also happy that these things were coming to light … if they’re coming up, and if there’s a problem, that means we can potentially fix it.” 

The Institute can grow, change, and become better not just because the state said so, not just because a governing body said so—but because we, as VMI cadets, parents, family, friends, see that there is an issue. And we have the opportunity to fix it and to make it right,” Harris said. 

  • Christian Heilman

    Christian Heilman Director of Digital Content

    The director of digital content is responsible for creating original video and multimedia materials, as well as developing and editing web and digital content. The director is responsible for platform coordination and troubleshooting, to include the VMI Alumni Agencies’ primary websites, digital newsletter and other digital platforms.

    Molly Rolon

    Molly Rolon Editorial Specialist