Eastern Alumna Onika Harry Recognized among ‘100 Women of Color’

Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Onika Harry ’03 of Windsor was honored last month at the 100 Women of Color Black Tie Gala and Awards ceremony hosted by June Archer & Eleven28 Entertainment Group – named for musician, author and motivational speaker June Archer. The gala recognized the contributions that women in business, education, entrepreneurship, entertainment and service have made to impact communities in Connecticut to Massachusetts.

Harry, a native of Guyana in South America, is passionate about giving to those in need. She has received several recognitions this year for her efforts, including citations from the Connecticut General Assembly and Connecticut Office of the Treasurer for positively impacting the lives of people in Connecticut. While at Eastern, she had a notable presence, participating in clubs and extracurricular activities, including tutoring.

“When I started at Eastern I didn’t know my purpose,” said Harry. “I was the first in my family to attend college, along with only being in the United States for four years at the time. Eastern led me to my purpose in life. There are many who assisted me through my journey, such as the faculty and administration. Those same individuals assisted in pushing me through adversities that I faced, allowing me to gain leadership principles and teach me how to handle conflict as I continue to grow professionally.”

In addition to working as an eligibility services worker for the Connecticut Department of Social Services in its Division of Eligibility Policy and Economic Security/Escalation Unit, Harry was appointed to serve on the statewide Affirmative Action Employee Advisory Committee. She regularly volunteers for the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford, where she helps low-literacy adults learn how to read, write and speak English.

With all of her achievements, Harry is humbled by her experiences. “I went from sharing my nightly dinner with my brother, which was served on the size of a salad plate, to now owning my own business and serving food abundantly.” Her knowledge about health and human service programs and the importance of perseverance have fostered a flourishing career path that is still evolving. Harry is in the process of obtaining her PhD in psychology from Capella University.

In the future, Harry hopes to become a college professor, author her first book and open a community center that provides resources for troubled youth. “Life is full of ups and downs. Use it as a tool to order your steps to success,” she concluded.

Through June Archer’s nonprofit organization, Concerned Citizens for Humanity, part of the proceeds from the 100 Women of Color Black Tie Gala and Awards event went toward scholarships for young women who graduate from high school and plan on attending college, leadership and mentorship programs. Contributions also promoted healthy living for women and supported groups that need funding for cervical and breast cancer research.

Written by Jordan Corey