From NCSSM to the courtroom: Harold Eustache ’99 shares his journey

Harold Eustache ’99, assistant district attorney for Forsyth County, visited campus this week to speak with students about his work and how Science and Math helped prepare him for his career.

Harold Eustache ’99 has packed a lot into the last 15 years or so. His journey has taken him on two deployments with the Army to Iraq and Afghanistan, to law school at Wake Forest University, and most recently to the courtroom in Forsyth County as assistant district attorney. He visited campus in late September, for the first time since his graduation, to meet with students and share his path from Science and Math to the Army and judicial system.

Eustache came to NCSSM from Charlotte, NC. His transition was significant, he says, for many reasons. At his home high school, he was one of the top few students. “I thought I was a smart guy… until I got to Science and Math,” he laughs. At NCSSM, he remembers being surrounded by peers who were all smart and ambitious. “It was a humbling experience,” Eustache says. Yet everyone helped each other out and pushed each other to succeed. “Everybody brings up everybody else,” he remembers.

His NCSSM preparation led to a full scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta. “Science and Math seems harder than college,” he says. He studied political science and government — after a brief investigation into investment banking, during which he realized he wanted to work with people and decided he wanted to go into law.

It was the attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 that shifted his plans to include the military. He was in college at the time, and he started thinking about serving in the military. “I realized that I wanted to challenge myself in that way,” he says, and developed a plan. “In college, I knew I wanted to go into law, but I had a plan,” he says. “I was going to go into the Army for this amount of time, do Special Ops, then go to law school.”

So after graduating from college, Eustache joined the Army and was trained in Special Ops. He served from 2004 to 2010, with two deployments, first to Iraq in 2005-2006 and to Afghanistan in 2008-2009. His time at NCSSM helped him a lot in the military, he told students during his campus visit.

“Being in the military, one of the things that helped me was knowing how to talk about science,” he says. Eustache became an expert on radio communications, learning more about things like differing frequencies and the ways in which a natural landscape or times of day may influence radio communications. “I was an asset to my unit because I could really figure things out,” he says.   

During his second deployment, he began preparing for law school, studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) while in Afghanistan. He had  study books shipped over,and during the evenings, when not on duty, he would study for the LSAT. He took the entry exam soon after returning to the US, and headed to law school at Wake Forest University.  

Eustache now serves as assistant district attorney for Forsyth County. In his role, he prosecutes crimes from speeding tickets to armed robbery, making legal arguments and seeking justice on behalf of the state of North Carolina. It is not an easy job, certainly, but one that for him is centered on trying to help people. “My job is not to argue that someone is guilty or that someone is bad or good, it’s to make sure that justice is served,” he says.

Eustache IVC Harold Eustache ’99, right, talks with DEEP Dean Jamie Lathan during a campus visit. Eustache talked with Lathan’s videoconferencing students in African American Studies, a course broadcast to six sites across North Carolina.

During his visit to campus, Eustache spoke with NCSSM’s African American Studies interactive videoconferencing class, broadcast to students in six schools across the state, from Pasquotank County in the far northeast to Cherokee County, at the westernmost tip of the state. The students asked Eustache about his role in the justice system and discussed topics such as police violence and the recent protests in his hometown of Charlotte. He shared his thoughts on the importance of transparency, and also of ensuring investigations are uncompromised by rushing ahead due to external pressures. He also spoke to the importance of having these discussions, in this class, at NCSSM, or anywhere.

About 95 percent of all prosecutors in the US are white, Eustache told the class, leaving “a severe deficit of African Americans” in the field. Prosecution is an “important part of the law,” he says, and points out that the majority of people he works with who are charged with a crime are young black men. The relationship between police and community is an important one,  and he participates in those conversations in his hometown, Winston-Salem.  

“The things you learn here can translate to all sorts of careers, not just in STEM. The way we think here at Science and Math has really helped me as an ADA,” Eustache told the students. A focus on problem-solving and analytical thinking helps, he says, because law is about how to craft an argument and applying sets of logics.  “It seems very different, but it’s math—it’s math with words.”

Eustache was happy to tour campus and see its changes. But the school isn’t really about the place, or even the academics, he says. “When I remember Science and Math, I remember the people,” he says. He remains in close touch with a number of his classmates, including his two junior year roommates. “Science and Math was an incredible, incredible experience.”  

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