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Dunne grad keeps sight of ‘big picture’

Bishop Dunne graduate Marlie Harris will be starting at the University of Texas in Austin, but not before she completes beta testing for a video game company and a selective research program at M.D. Anderson Center in Houston this summer. (JENNA TETER/The Texas Catholic)


By Jeff Miller
Special to The Texas Catholic

Marlie Harris’ graduation from Bishop Dunne Catholic School fittingly included emceeing the senior class’ ceremony held at SMU’s McFarland Auditorium on May 25. The Duncanville resident often served as a quasi-authority figure to her classmates.

When Falcons volleyball coach Mike Kistner recently described Harris — all 5-foot-6½ of her — as the team leader, he quickly corrected himself.

“Our team mom,” he said. “She was the conscience of the team.”

Kistner also observed similar traits in Harris as a student in his world history class and during her interactions with classmates.

“She wasn’t concerned with grades or being in competition with other students,” he said. “She won’t toot her own horn, but she’s constantly asking about other people.”

“She has a really good grasp of the big picture.”

Harris’ big picture will send her this fall to the University of Texas at Austin, where she plans to major in neuroscience. Her goal is to study Alzheimer’s disease after seeing its effects on her grandmother, who died last year.

“It broke my heart,” Harris said. “There’s nothing quite like having someone who was the rock in your family suddenly forget who you are. They forget how to walk, how to talk. It was unimaginable.”

Harris began attending the Oak Cliff school in the sixth grade, her mother making the change from Harris’ neighborhood school because of bullying.

“At that time, I was just hoping for a better experience,” Harris said. “And I got that. Here, it didn’t matter what you were like. You could be yourself.”

Harris being Harris also meant participating on the Bishop Dunne team that competes in slam poetry, which combines construction of poems typically related to current events or social issues with subsequent delivery and performance. Bishop Dunne’s team, coached by English department chair Brinkley Schneider, won the Dallas division of a national competition called “Louder Than a Bomb” in April. In the winning presentation, Harris assumed the role of a victim of domestic violence.

“She’s not only a talented writer and poet, but also a talented performer,” Schneider said of Harris. “She’s a great observer, then is able to internalize. She cares deeply about social justice and knows how to speak her mind.”

If Harris is an 18-year-old “old soul,” she’s one that likes to play video games — and spent a week after graduation beta testing them for the Richardson game manufacturer named id Software. She’ll spend the rest of June and July interning at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of 25 high school students chosen nationwide from about 150 applicants.

Harris said she’ll most remember her Bishop Dunne days for the teachers.

“The bonds you create with the faculty — it’s just something I’ve never experienced before,” she said. “I knew there was going to be somebody there who cared, who wanted me to succeed. That’s always going to stay with me.”