Goodnight Spotlight: John Huffman

Each month, the Goodnight Scholars Program highlights a select number of current Goodnight Scholars who represent the program’s highly diverse and involved student cohort. This month, the spotlight focuses on Franklin Academy grad, John Huffman ’16.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

John Huffman: I am from Wake Forest, which is also where I went to school at Franklin Academy. I am a middle child with an older brother and a younger sister – all Wolfpack! I am a lifetime learner, Sudoku master, athlete, and friend. I am not a mechanical engineer, but rather I am John who does mechanical engineering. I love education, innovation, and people. My faith as a Catholic Christian is extremely important to me, and is a large part of who I am. If you had asked me what I was intending to do with my future during my junior year of high school, I would have told you I was going to UNC to pursue a career in medicine. Engineering hadn’t crossed my mind. My dad is an insurance salesman and my mom is a teacher assistant at an elementary school, so I had never been exposed to engineering. However, I had a few amazing high school teachers who invested themselves in me and discovered that my interests and skill set was directly in line with engineering. From there, I decided to go to the best local engineering school and study the broadest engineering to keep as many doors open as possible. So I was led to NC State to study mechanical engineering, which was a lucky guess because I absolutely love what I do! My time here at NC State has been such a blessing largely due to the amazing culture of the Wolfpack community, and the unwavering support from the Goodnight Scholars Program.

Talk about some of your greatest accomplishments thus far at NC State.

I consider my biggest accomplishments at NC State to be what I have done outside of the classrooms. I believe that is where the most potential for growth lies. I believe my biggest accomplishment stems from my involvement in the Alternative Service Break (ASB) program at NC State. I have both participated in and led the ASB trip to Hoonah, Alaska to participate in service towards youth education in the local Hoonah community. It was both a challenging and rewarding experience in which I had the opportunity to make an impact on my fellow students at NC State while also serving and learning about the Huna Tlingit community. Youth education has always been a strong passion of mine and I was fortunate to have such an opportunity.

What is a Goodnight Scholar without a little professional development? I have been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to gain valuable industry experience in a variety of locations and industries. In particular, I have accumulated a year and a half of engineering experience by completing a co-op for RMF Engineering and internships with Captive-Aire Systems and Exxon Mobil Corporation. This has taught me invaluable skills that will make me a competitive player in the job market.

I have also maintained significant involvement with my church here on campus. I am a part of the Catholic Campus Ministry at NC State and love sharing my faith with others. I have been a small group leader, retreat coordinator, and active member in the community. Finally, I have been able to maintain strong academics. I have been on the Dean’s List each semester here at NC State and have been able to accumulate a perfect GPA. Another notable achievement is that I am a three-time, three-sport intramural champion! I would not have been able to achieve these accomplishments if not for the support, inspiration, and opportunities for growth presented to me by Goodnight Scholars Program.

What has your experience in the Goodnight Scholars Program been like thus far?

As a fourth year scholar in the Goodnight Scholars Program, I have loved everything about being a part of the community. I have seen it grow a lot even since I have been here at NC State. There are so many amazing opportunities to grow, serve, and experience things that most people would not have the opportunity to experience in college. The programs are more frequent now and more impactful. Everything from the SAS Emerging Leaders Pro Devo Workshops to the Boston Fall Break trip are all opportunities to learn, grow, and have fun. However, the thing I have loved the most is the people. The entire community consists of smart, hard-working leaders with whom I can have fun, be challenged, grow, and achieve with. It is a community that inspires me to push myself to be the best I can be and opens my mind to the amazing accomplishments and challenges taking place in STEM.

I consider my biggest accomplishments at NC State to be what I have done outside of the classrooms. I believe that is where the most potential for growth lies.

What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

Humility. The Goodnight Scholarship itself is an unbelievable blessing. However, as Goodnight Scholars we are not given these amazing opportunities because we were successful in high school. We are given these opportunities because what we did in high school made us valuable investments. Being a Goodnight Scholar does not mean that we need to become arrogant because of what we have done, but rather humble ourselves, recognize the areas in which we can be better, and work hard to take advantage of the many opportunities that are presented to us. Listen, learn, be open to challenges and differences, and never take any opportunity for granted. Being a Goodnight Scholar means that having the humility and drive to maximize our potential as the future leaders in STEM.

How has the Goodnight Scholars Program prepared you for life after college?

The Goodnight Scholars Program has provided me the with tools and programs to develop the technical and soft skills needed to become a leader in my STEM field while providing experiences that make me a more inspired and informed member of a global community. Activities from the SAS Emerging Leaders Pro Devo Workshops to enrichment grant interviews have enhanced the skills I need to be successful beyond NC State while the many service opportunities and enrichment trips, such as the Boston Fall Break trip, have given me opportunities to give back, become inspired, and see the world in from new perspectives.

Speaking of life after college, what are your future career goals and aspirations?

I hope to have a career as an engineer before transitioning to be a high school math teacher. As an engineer I love the thrill of being on the cutting-edge of innovation while constantly challenging my imagination and intellect. However, my true passion lies in teaching and I strongly value investment in youth education. So it is only a matter of time before I find myself in a high school classroom teaching calculus to the future generations of STEM leaders.

What advice would give to a new or prospective Goodnight Scholars about being involved at NC State and the Goodnight Scholars Program?

Start early. Start small. Think big. Enjoy the ride. It is never too early for anything. You may think that four years is plenty of time to do everything you want and need to do, but you will quickly realize how fast time seems to go by. Take advantage of every opportunity you have and go for it, no matter how small. Pretty soon you will find yourself doing things that you never imagined yourself doing. The Goodnight Scholars Program provides many opportunities to have fun, give back, gain valuable insight from people who have been where you are, and see the world with all of its many beauties and challenges. You could not be in a better position to make the most of the time at NC State and jump-start your professional careers, so start taking advantage of that now!