Enrollment Increase, Balloon Art

Enrollment Increase

Shawn Mahoney was in his early 30s with two children and a job in the mortgage business when the recession hit hard. Facing a grim pay cut and a drop in business that he knew could cost him his livelihood, the McHenry County resident hatched a new plan: he'd become a lawyer. Mahoney headed to Harper College to get started, signing up for courses that would help him reach his new career goal. Mahoney and others like him - adults seeking new careers and extra training amid a bottomed-out job market - have helped push the College's enrollment well above last spring's levels. Harper's official Spring 2010 headcount is 15, 619 - an increase of more than 11 percent from Spring 2009. The boost primarily comes from the College's adult students, defined as those ages 25 and older; that category grew by about 18 percent from last spring. "We're seeing many adults who are returning because they realize that in this job market, they have to continue learning vital new skills," says Maria Coons, Interim Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing. "There also are many adults who have lost their job after spending years in a single profession, and now are coming to us to start a new career. Still others simply are realizing now is the time to pursue a long-held passion." Last fall, the Lumina Foundation noted that the economic downturn was funneling hundreds of thousands of American adults back into postsecondary education, and said the trend was sure to intensify as the recession-rocked country continued to demand workers with even higher levels of education and training. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. now can count nearly 7 million adult learners - a group that once represented a minority on college campuses and now is accounting for as much as 70 percent of the nation's college enrollment. With an eye on beefing up her skills, Schaumburg resident Angela Styczykowski enrolled at Harper this term to complete a Financial Management Certification. The 54-year-old cash management specialist is facing unemployment because of changes at her company, and "I feel that some college classes will enhance my work experience," she said. "I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my career." The College also is seeing increasing numbers of young adult students (ages 19 to 24), which includes those who began their education at another institution before transferring to Harper. Spring 2010 young adult enrollment is up about 7 percent from Spring 2009.



Media Note: Adult students are available for interviews about their decisions to return to college and seek new careers. To book interviews or for more enrollment information, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Balloon Art

Harper College's next art exhibition requires a lot of hot air and significant lung capacity. Beginning Friday, February 19, a rotation of Harper art faculty and students will join guest artist Jason Hackenwerth in manually blowing up as many as 7,000 balloons - preparation for a large-scale balloon sculpture that Hackenwerth, known for his sophisticated and enchanting aerial art, will create in Harper's exhibition space. "An air pump would be helpful," Assistant Professor Jason Peot acknowledges, but human air is one of the secret ingredients that helps make Hackenwerth's alluringly ephemeral sculptures work. The artist's finished product, created by twisting, blowing and shaping the inflated balloons into an intricate configuration, will be on display from Tuesday, February 23 through Thursday, March 18 in Harper's Art Exhibition Space, Room C200, Building C on the main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. Viewing times for the free "Tide of Poseidon" exhibit are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. A slide lecture will be held at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 23 (the exhibit's opening day) in the Harper Painting Studio, Room C201 in Building C. A reception and discussion with Hackenwerth runs from 12:15 to 1 p.m. the same day in the exhibition space. "Jason Hackenwerth is a completely intriguing artist whose work I've admired many times," Peot says. "To be able to work alongside him, helping him create the framework for his latest project, is an awesome experience for our faculty and especially for our students."  Hackenwerth, a New York City resident who holds a master's degree in fine arts and has exhibited throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia, draws from plant and animal forms to create his all-balloon sculptures. The pieces come to life with the help of human air and then slowly expire, all within the time and space of the exhibition.


Media Note: The artist, with help from students and faculty, will blow up between 5,000 and 7,000 balloons for his Harper sculpture, starting on Friday, February 19. Reporters and photographers are invited to observe that process and talk with the artist. Contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, at 847.925.6159 or kpohl@harpercollege.edu for the best photo times and dates.


Lincoln Learning


Harper College Speech Team members and public speaking students this month will celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday with a Readers' Theater, performing selections from speeches, plays and other literature that dramatize the personal and political struggles of the nation's sixteenth president. Collectively, the selections will tell the story of Lincoln's life and legacy. The presentation, an annual event started last year to mark the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, is at noon on Thursday, February 11 on the second floor of the College's Library, Building F on the Palatine campus. The event is free and open to all. Refreshments will be served. Lincoln was born February 12, 1809. Today, a year after a historical presidential inauguration that put another Illinoisan in the White House, "Lincoln still has a lot of relevance," says Instructor Margaret Bilos, whose students will present the Readers' Theater. The Harper campus is closed Friday, February 12 in honor of Lincoln's actual birthday.


Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Bilingual Financial Aid

Harper College is offering a series of workshops aimed at helping potential students navigate the murky waters of financial aid - whether they speak English or Spanish. The dual-language Financial Aid Workshops, geared toward high school juniors and their parents, will feature information on financial aid eligibility, the FAFSA application process, deadlines, the varying forms of federal and state aid and Harper scholarships for new freshmen. Those who aren't eligible for financial aid will get tips for researching other scholarship options online. Participants also can receive onsite help filling out the FAFSA. The first workshop, offered in Spanish only, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 11 at Wheeling High School, 900 S. Elmhurst Road in Wheeling. Two more bilingual workshops, offered in both English and Spanish, will be held at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, February 21 at Rolling Meadows High School, 2901 W. Central Road in Rolling Meadows, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11 at Palatine High School, 1111 N. Rohlwing Road in Palatine. "Financial aid can be intimidating even for the savviest person. Offering the pertinent information in Spanish can be helpful to parents, in particular, when it comes to understanding the details," says Juanita Pérez Bassler, a Harper College Recruiting Specialist. "We offer these workshops to let high school students know that college really is an option, and to let them know we're here to help." The workshops are free, but seating is limited. For details or to RSVP, visit www.harpercollege.edu or contact Pérez Bassler at 847.925.6940 or jbassler@harpercollege.edu. To complete the FAFSA at the event, students must bring a driver's license, social security card and 2009 tax information (tax returns should be completed first).


Media Note: Harper's Director of Student Financial Assistance, Earl Dowling, is available for interviews on financial aid topics. His answers to frequent questions, including details on the new FAFSA form changes, are available in video form on Harper's web site, www.harpercollege.edu, under the Financial Aid tab. For interviews or for more Harper financial aid information, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Documentary and Lecture

Journalist David Wilson began tracing his roots six years ago. His transatlantic journey, and the surprising discoveries that came with it, are the focus of an acclaimed documentary that explores the legacy of slavery and the pursuit of racial reconciliation. Wilson, 32, will personally share his experiences at a Harper College lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 8 in the Building J Theatre on Harper's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. Wilson's quest to explore his background took him from his Newark, N.J. birthplace to Ghana in Africa, where his ancestors had been put on a slave ship. He eventually discovered the plantation where they'd been enslaved, and found their modern-day descendants - one of whom also was named David Wilson. "In my film ("Meeting David Wilson"), the other David Wilson asks me where I think I'd be if my ancestors hadn't been brought to America as slaves," Wilson says. "I respond this way: America would have been a far different country had it not been for the contributions of African-Americans." Wilson's documentary was released in 2008; he's now launching theGrio.com, a video-centric web site devoted to community news about African-Americans. Tickets for his February 8 lecture are $7 for general admission, with discounts for seniors and students. For tickets or more information, call 847.925.6100 or visit www.harpercollege.edu/boxoffice.


Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Photo Opportunities

Event: Computer Kids Program. Elementary District 21 students whose parents are in Harper literacy courses are able to learn digital concepts and computer technology in this new class.

Date: 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through March 17.

Location: Harper College Northeast Center, 1375 Wolf Road in Prospect Heights

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu


Event: Students and faculty blowing up thousands of balloons in preparation for visiting artist Jason Hackenwerth's balloon-art sculpture

Date: Friday, February 19-Monday, February 22 (Call for best days and times)

Location: Art Exhibition Space, Room C200, Building C

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu