Harper College

Ten Questions with Jalen Little


In 2016, Jalen Little was working as a barista at the Starbucks on Harper College's campus. Having recently graduated from Southern Illinois University, Little picked up the job to stay afloat while he searched for the perfect career opportunity. But one day, that opportunity found him when Mark McPherrin, senior admissions specialist, stopped by for a coffee and informed Little about a job opening in the admissions office. It was this tip that led to Little’s position as an admissions specialist at Harper College.

In this role, Little has become a friendly and energizing presence on Harper’s campus. Giving multiple campus tours a week to families, prospective students and community members, he is often people’s first impression of Harper and all it has to offer. “Being in this role and being able to help someone find a sense of peace and clarity about their next steps, and then seeing them all the way through graduation – there’s nothing better than that,” Little said.

But when he’s not out changing lives, you can find Little making music, spending time in nature and pondering a life with Darth Vader as his best friend. Here are ten questions with Jalen Little.

1. Describe your perfect day.

A perfect day would start off with a cup of coffee and time away from my phone. If I have the time, I’d do a little meditation to get my mind adjusted for the day. From there, it would be a traffic-free commute to work and a clear understanding of the workday ahead. It’s important that I have everything organized in terms of my appointments and meetings. Before heading home, I’d stop at the Health and Recreation Center on campus and get in a little workout. After that, it’s all about unwinding and making time for the things that bring me joy like making music, spending time with family and reading or playing video games. If I can wrap all that up before 11 p.m., all the better! 

2. What is one thing you are deeply grateful for right now?

In this moment, I am grateful to be a part of an institution that cares about its employees. I’m grateful to no longer have to worry about finding shelter or food. When I was a student here, I was faced with those concerns and it took me away from my academics. So to now be working here and be able to provide for myself and my family, and to help people who were once in the same position – it’s something special.

3. What’s a color you gravitate towards and why?

Green. It makes me think of nature and that always brings me peace and clarity. It’s a vibrant color, a natural color, an earth color. To me it also symbolizes growth and to keep on moving and adapting! 

4. You could be best friends with one fictional character, who do you choose and why?

It would have to be Darth Vader. I feel like when he’s not trying to take over the galaxy or working on behalf of the Galactic Empire, he’d be a cool dude to talk to. Knowing there’s good in him, I think I could offer a space for him to be his most authentic self and say like, “You know what? Being a part of the Galactic Empire is hard business.” He needed that friend. But also, I could imagine hopping in a TIE fighter and zooming around, doing some crazy tricks and moves. I don’t know, I just feel like it would be cool to hang with Darth Vader! 

5. Who was your role model growing up?

My Uncle Howard. He was a small business owner, a politician (he ran for Mayor of Elgin back in the ’80s) and a through-and-through self-starter. Later in life, he ended up getting sick but he still persevered through it. Seeing that growing up really taught me how to prevail when life gets hard. I think a lot of who I am today can be attributed to his character. Even to the point where my mom will look at me and be like, “Yeah OK, Uncle Howard.” Whether it’s warming up odd foods like an apple in the microwave, or applying that same mindset of success that he had – I proudly carry his legacy.

6. What songs are essential to the Jalen Little-curated playlist?

  • “Think About Me” by Azifm & Scout
  • “Killer Joe” by Benny Golson
  • “Glowed Up” by Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak

7. What have you changed your mind about over the years?

I’ve always loved astronomy. At a certain point in my life, I actually wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. But after taking an astronomy class and learning how much the field relies on math, I was like, “Nah this isn’t for me. I’ll just stick to music!” 

8. What do you wonder about?

I wonder when humans are going to stop fighting, when they’re going to realize that we’re all made up of the same components and set their egos aside and find true, lasting peace. 

9. What are you hopeful for?

I’m hopeful for the opportunity to leave a legacy for my family. I’m hopeful to be able to express myself through my art at the best level I can, while I can. And I’m hopeful that my time here at Harper will continue to have an impact on the families, students and community members I come in contact with.

10. What do you love about Harper College?

When I think about the word “community,” Harper comes to mind. I love having the opportunity to change lives every day, and to be able to make a positive impact in our community. I love the people here and all of the support and resources it offers for employees and students. 

Last Updated: 6/13/24