Harper College

Career Connections with Harper Alumni - Virtual Program

2024 Career Connections Panel Events
Virtual Program
Scroll down to read the bios of our participating alumni and community panelists!

Early Career Panel - 12 p.m.
Alumni Panelists:
Sarah AlhayekSarah Alhayek, Employee Engagement Generalist, Aldi 
Sarah Alhayek left Harper in 2015 and went on to Roosevelt University in Chicago receiving her BA in Psychology in 2017, with a concentration on Neuroscience giving a path to the medical side of psych. She worked as a Behavioral Specialist for the Kenneth Young Center in Schaumburg. She returned to school at Roosevelt University and received her MBA and MA in Industrial Organizational psychology. IO psych focuses on human behavior in the workplace, allowing her to the business side of psychology. Sarah was a DEI intern for the Village of Arlington Heights, rolling out Diversity Equity and Inclusion efforts for their municipal government employees. After completing her degrees, she began working at ALDI. She currently works to support the wellbeing and engagement of employees through project management and organization wide initiatives. Sarah shares that a fun fact about her is that she is bilingual and speaks both English and Arabic.

Kim ButlerKim Butler, Senior Financial Analyst, Financial Planning and Analysis at Brunswick Corporation 

After receiving her Associates Degree from Harper, Kim Butler received her Bachelor of Science from Illinois State University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Kansas. She began her career after graduating Illinois State at Northrop Grumman in a financial rotational program. She immediately knew Financial Planning and Analysis was the right fit for her. Kim was at Northrop Grumman for four and a half years before accepting a new role at Brunswick, where she continue to work in FP&A. Kim is also the manager of the company’s finance rotational program where she gets to work closely with recent college graduates! 


Rachel KereszturiRachel Kereszturi, Health Solutions Actuarial Technician, Aon

Rachel graduated from Harper College in May 2018, and transferred soon after to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Actuarial Science.  During her college experience, she was involved with activities that prepared herself for a future career as a health actuary. During her time at Harper, she worked at Northwest Community Hospital in Human Resources where she saw HR’s involvement with open enrollment and benefit planning.  At UIUC, she was involved with the Actuarial Science Club, Gamma Iota Sigma (an insurance-focused business fraternity), a finance internship at NCH, and a risk internship at Aon in commercial risk.  Her internship at Aon led her to a full-time job upon graduation.  Rachel worked as an Associate Account Executive for the Construction Services Group during her first year at the firm and later transferred to Health Solutions where she now works as an Actuarial Analyst.  

In her free time, Rachel loves attending events at Harper College as an alum and volunteering at the Buddy Foundation where she has rescued her dog and cat from.

Roberto LopezRoberto Lopez, Diversity Officer & Equal Opportunity Officer at the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal 
Roberto Lopez obtained his master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s in Finance from DePaul University. Roberto has over ten years in both the private and public sectors managing programs, innovating, implementing, and building relationships in diverse communities. Currently, Roberto works at the Illinois State Fire Marshal Office as their Diversity Officer, making the fire service more inclusive to all communities in our state.

Joey SpanglerJoey Spangler, Graphic Designer, Gallagher

Joey attended Harper College from 2013-14, then again in the Fall semester of 2015. He had an amazing experience at Harper. The facilities and faculty made an incredible impact on him and Joey is grateful to be a Harper Alumni. He attended Columbia Chicago in 2014-15 to pursue a degree in film. However, he changed his major to communication and went back to Harper in 2015 to get everything figured out again. In 2016-17 Joey attended Elmhurst College and graduated with a B.A in Interdisciplinary Communication.

Since 2018, Joey works at Gallagher as a Graphic Designer. He also works on weekends at a local pottery studio (Art Fuzd) as a very fun side-gig. He loves both jobs!

Jalen LittleModerator: Jalen Little,Harper College - Admissions Specialist

Jalen Little is an admissions specialist at Harper College. His Journey began as a Harper College student earning his associate in arts. He then transferred to Southern Illinois University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and Audio Engineering with a minor in sociology.

Career Readiness Panel - 1:15 p.m.
Alumni Panelists:
DijZhane DennisDijZhane Dennis, Talent Acquisition Coordinator, Pactiv Evergreen

DijZhane Dennis is a seasoned Human Resources professional currently serving as a Talent Acquisition Coordinator at Pactiv Evergreen. She holds an associate’s degree in Human Resources Management from Harper College and is actively pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at DePaul University.

With a rich background in talent acquisition, DijZhane has contributed her expertise to major Fortune 500 companies, including PepsiCo and U.S. Foods. With over six years of experience in the food and beverage as well as food packaging industries, she specializes in optimizing recruitment operations through HR system enhancements and adept management of the candidate experience.

Beyond her professional achievements, DijZhane is dedicated to fostering inclusivity in corporate culture. She is passionate about bridging the generational gap and dispelling stereotypes surrounding corporate environments, particularly for students and recent graduates.

Keli Stonitsch, Human Resources Manager, Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation
Keli is currently the HR Specialist with Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation, located in Morton Grove. Prior to this position, she was employed as an HR Generalist with the Village of Niles and Maine Township. After graduating from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Keli worked in employment law as a paralegal. She then took 8 years off to be a stay-at-home mom to raise her four kids. She went back into the workforce as an office assistant for a school district and became heavily involved in the union environment there. Her experience with the collective bargaining process, coupled with her prior paralegal experience, sparked her interest in pursuing a career in human resources. She attended Harper College’s HR Manager program in the evenings, working full-time, and interned for several places to gain HR experience to help launch her HR career.

Ushna ZamirUshna Zamir, Talent Management and HR Partner, Collins Aerospace

Ushna graduated in 2019 from Harper with her Associates and went to UIUC to get her Bachelors and Masters degrees. While in her Master’s program, I interned at Raytheon Technologies and was grateful to have been offered a full-time role. She currently is in her first year in the HR Leadership Development Program, where she will do at least 3 rotations over 2 years trying out different roles in the HR field. In her current and first rotation, she is working at Collins Aerospace, the commercial aircraft part of the business, and serves in Talent Management and as an HR Partner. In all of her roles, she has been working remotely from Schaumburg, and typically travels once a month for work across the US. She loves data analysis and is also doing a mini orientation with the People Analytics team. She is happy to be a resource for students at Harper College!

Ann GaroonModerator: Ann Garoon, Harper College - Workforce Coordinator, Job Placement Resource Center

Ann Garoon is an experienced and passionate Workforce Coordinator at Harper College.  She works with students and alumni as they search for opportunities from part-time jobs and internships to professional career positions. Whether the students need a jump start in writing their first resume or polishing a current resume, she provides the latest information on resume and cover letter writing and makes sure students know the most updated interviewing and job search trends and tools.

Ann also coaches students enrolled in Harper College’s apprenticeship program, providing support to these students from day one throughout their completion of the program.

Ann’s credentials include a Master’s Degree in Counseling, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), Certified Career Coach, Certified Emotional Intelligence Strategist and Certified Resume Writer.

Alumni Leadership Panel - 2:30 p.m.
Alumni Panelists:
Dr. Hector MartinezDr. Hector Martinez, Owner, Tri Modern Health
Dr. Hector Martinez DC is a Chiropractor and a proud alumnus of Harper College. In 2017, Dr Martinez opened his own office, Tri Modern Health, after working for 7 years under another Chiropractor. He moved to his current location in Hoffman Estates in 2021. He has been practicing for 13 years and comes highly recommended by his patients. Dr Martinez has won the Daily Herald Reader’s Choice Best of the Best award for Best Chiropractor three years in a row 2019, 2020, and 2022. Tri Modern Health was the exclusive contracted Chiropractor for the Schaumburg Boomers Professional Baseball Team. Dr Martinez has a passion for treating sports injuries for all ages and holds specialized certifications in ante-natal and postpartum care of mothers and babies.

Ann PortmannAnn Portmann, BSN, RN, CHPN, WCC, Care Center Team Manager, JourneyCare Barrington
After 20 years as a successful financial planner and accountant, Ann Portmann decided to pursue a new and somewhat unexpected calling: becoming a hospice nurse. 

The many lessons learned in Harper’s nursing program have served her well. Today, she’s the in-patient care center team manager at JourneyCare’s Barrington facility, which helps to provide compassionate care for patients and support for families as they face end-of-life decisions and treatment. 

Portmann, who after graduating from Harper earned her hospice and palliative nurse and wound care certifications, is grateful for the many instructors who had an impact on her. She also appreciates how respectful they were of her desire to become a hospice nurse and the non-traditional path she took to get there. 

Portmann’s drive to give back to the nursing community is evident through the multitude of ways she connects with future nurses. She helps educate the profession’s next generation by participating in ongoing educational seminars and sitting on alumni panels. She also assumed the role of preceptor for Harper nursing students in their capstone course. 

Portmann works with fourth-semester Harper nursing students by introducing them to the roles and responsibilities of hospice care.

Kari-Ann RyanKari-Ann Ryan, LMJ’s Lost Souls- Alzheimer’s Fund, Founder, President Board of Directors
Everything Kari-Ann engages in has an underlying focus on giving back, personally, professionally, and creatively. This passion has led to founding and now operating, with two other board members, a nonprofit organization, LMJ's Lost Souls- Alzheimer's Fund. They have a mission to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. They want to be a part of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. They accomplish this through Fundraising, Awareness, Education and Resources and Support with a focus on local. Kari-Ann is also a marketing executive full time and uses her expertise and creative thinking to produce valid ideas that can be acted on and portray a brand story to elevate who she is representing. She is highly organized, diligent, and gets things done. Her motto is that it is not difficult to get things done if you have the passion to do so. She is a proud Alumna of Harper College. 

John SchippmanJohn Schippman, Vice President of Sports Content, NBC Universal Local Chicago

 John Schippman is a six-time Emmy winning executive who has worked his way from the ground up in the media industry. He began his career as a production assistant at ESPN and rose through the ranks to his current position of Vice President of Content for NBC Universal Chicago.  

As Vice President of Content, John oversees the NBC5 and Telemundo sports departments, along with NBC Sports Chicago, which includes the live broadcasts of the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox games and also the pre and postgame programming. 

He has held numerous roles within the industry including Coordinating Producer, Executive Producer – Assistant News Director, and Senior Director of Studio Content. During his career he was at the forefront of coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks three Stanley Cup Championships, producing Emmy award winning broadcast coverage.  

John is a member, and current President, of the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Executive Producer for the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards. 

John is a 1997 graduate of Harper College and received his Bachelor of Science in Communication and Media Studies from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2000.

Maham KhanAlumna Moderator: Maham Kahn, Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts, Harper College 
Harper College Alumna

Maham Khan is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Harper College. Her professional and personal development journey started at Harper College first as a student in 2001. At Harper, Maham was deeply involved in extracurriculars like the Speech Team and student leadership, serving as a governing member of many clubs and organizations. Then she transferred to Northwestern University to pursue a degree in communications. Later, she completed her masters degree in journalism from DePaul University and worked as a journalist, producer and freelance media producer for many years before transitioning into teaching full time at Harper College in 2018. In 2023, Maham won The Chicago Sun-Times “Chicago’s Next Voices” award. Today, Maham serves as advisor to the award-winning student-run newspaper and magazine www.harbinger.media and mentors students seeking careers in journalism, media and communications.

Last Updated: 4/1/24