Harper College

Harper Talks: The Harper Alumni Podcast

Harper Talks Alumni PodcastA co-production of Harper Alumni Program and WHCM Radio.

Listen in as Harper alumni share their stories, experiences, and life journeys. Through Harper Talks conversations led by Associate Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton, Alumni are invited to share how education, career successes and failures and human connection have impacted them along the way.

Harper Talks is a co-production of WHCM 88.3 Harper Student Radio and Harper Alumni Relations. WHCM students assist with editing and production of each episode. Original podcast theme music composed by former Harper College student Aidan Cashman.

Harper Talks episodes can be found on all podcast streaming services including Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or other platforms and downloaded below. Learn more about WHCM and support radio students.

Dr. Hector Martinez

Harper Talks Episode 37 – Dr. Hector Martinez - MP3

Alumnus Dr. Hector Martinez joins Harper Talks to discuss the love for science, education close to home, his dual duties as both business owner and principal Chiropractor at Tri-Modern Health and becoming the team Chiropractor for the Schaumburg Boomers baseball team.

Download Episode 37 Transcript

Portrait Luigi De Matteo

Harper Talks Episode 36 – Luigi De Matteo - MP3

Alumnus Luigi De Matteo discusses emigrating from Italy, learning a new language and culture, and his a determination to succeed by taking advantage of all educational opportunities available. He joins Harper Talks to discuss Harper’ s role in his education, his start at Jewel Osco and longevity with the company, and why mentoring international students is so important to him. Luigi is the District Manager for Jewel Osco, overseeing stores in the northwest suburbs.

Download Episode 36 Transcript

Portrait Dr. Ruth Morales

Harper Talks Episode 35 – Dr. Ruth Morales - MP3

Dr. Ruth Morales’ road to becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy started with a single anatomy class at Harper College. From teen mom to Harper Honors Program to graduating with honors from Northwestern University’s esteemed physical therapy program, Dr. Morales shares her inspiring journey on Harper Talks.

Download Episode 35 Transcript

Portrait Carrie Fullerton

Harper Talks Episode 34 – Carrie Fullerton - MP3

Harper Talks welcomes alumna Carrie Fullerton, Executive Director of the Arlington Heights Park District. Carrie discusses her extensive career in parks and rec, leading one of the largest park districts in the state of Illinois, and what she’s doing to help mentor the next generation of female leaders in the field.

Download Episode 34 Transcript

Portrait Jenn Mepham

Harper Talks Episode 33 – Jenn Mepham - MP3

Jenn Mepham, the 2023 Outstanding Recent Alumna, joins Harper Talks and shares insight into her career as the System Simulation Education Specialist for Advocate Health system. Jenn talks about training nurses for all types of medical scenarios through simulation and what it was like pivoting to an unexpected role during the COVID-19 Pandemic. She earned her Bachelor of Applied Science in Biology from ISU in 2011, her Associate Degree in Nursing from Harper College in 2014, and her Master of Science in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2019.

Download Episode 33 Transcript

Portrait Kari-Ann Ryan

Harper Talks Episode 32 – Kari-Ann Ryan - MP3

2023 Harper College Distinguished Alumna Kari-Ann Ryan joins Harper Talks and discusses the journey to receiving her degrees, her role as Director of Marketing and Development at Mid-West Moving and Storage, building relationships in the community, and her proactive volunteerism that’s transforming lives.

Download Episode 32 Transcript

Portrait Of Nicole Buchanan

Harper Talks Episode 31 – Nicole Buchanan - MP3

Alumna Nicole Buchanan joins Harper Talks and discusses working her way up during her career which began at 15 years old at a McDonald’s restaurant to ultimately becoming Vice President, Operations with Bear Family Restaurants, which owns and operates 35 McDonald’s restaurants in the suburbs. Nicole talks about the Harper/Bear Restaurant partnership, shares about her time at Harper, and at the University of South Carolina.

Download Episode 31 Transcript

Portrait Of Andy-John Kalkounos

Harper Talks Episode 30 – Andy-John Kalkounos - MP3

Andy-John Kalkounos is a restaurateur, actor, real estate professional, and currently serving as the Palatine Township Supervisor. Andy-John, a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of Harper College, joins the podcast and discusses his varied roles, his Greek heritage, his experiences at Harper College as a piano and theater student, and the importance of being present in our lives.

Download Episode 30 Transcript

Portrait Of Dr. Justin Harty

Harper Talks Episode 29 – Dr. Justin Harty - MP3

Harper alumnus Dr. Justin Harty, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Arizona State University, shares how Harper College was a pivotal starting point for his journey to PhD, his connection with the Harper professors that inspired his path, and his significant work and research in the field of social work focusing on fathers in the foster care system. Dr. Harty is a 2008 Harper College graduate.

Download Episode 29 Transcript

portrait of Jalen Little

Harper Talks Episode 28 – Mayor Craig Johnson - MP3

Elk Grove Village Mayor and Harper Alumnus Craig Johnson joins Harper Talks to discuss Harper’s generational impact on his family, the calling for public service, the life of a village mayor, and more. Mayor Johnson is a 1980 graduate of Harper College. He has served as the mayor of Elk Grove Village since 1997.

Download Episode 28 Transcript

portrait of Jalen Little

Harper Talks Episode 27 – Jalen Little - MP3

Alumnus Jalen Little joins Harper Talks and discusses finding community, developing leadership skills, taking the least expected path, and helping prospective students discover the educational opportunities they have in their own backyard in his role as Admissions Specialist at Harper College.

Download Episode 27 Transcript

portraits of Harper Alumni

Harper Talks Episode 26 – A conversation with recent alumni: Alex Aleksandrov, Arman Rahman, & Nick Wenzel - MP3

Recent Harper College alumni join Harper Talks for a conversation on why they chose Harper, their educational experiences as students, and where they landed in their careers. Alex Alexandrov (‘20) talks of the rigor of Harper’s Nursing program, the impact of scholarships, and her job as a registered nursing working with heart patients. Arman Rahman (‘16) discusses his time on the Harper Speech Team, finding his way to broadcast journalism, and his career as Reporter at WISC-TV in Madison, Wisconsin. Finally, Nick Wenzel (‘17) shares how chance meetings led to a campus internship that was a launchpad for his career in marketing and graphic design and his role as Visual Designer at Zoom.

Download Episode 26 Transcript

portrait of Dr. Leslie Van Wolvelear

Harper Talks Episode 25 - Dr. Leslie Van Wolvelear - MP3

Harper alumna Leslie Van Wolvelear discusses why she chose Harper after high school, her path to being an accountant and passion for teaching it to others, her dedication to lifelong learning, and role as professor and Chairperson of the Accounting Program at Oakton Community College where she has pioneered gamification teaching techniques for her students.

Download Episode 25 Transcript

portrait of Dr. Shelomi Gomes

Harper Talks Episode 24 - Dr. Shelomi Gomes - MP3

Alumna Dr. Shelomi Gomes lived in four different countries before arriving in the US and enrolling at Harper College as adult student. At Harper she excelled in her studies and became a national speech team champion. Dr. Gomes joins the Harper Talks podcast to discuss her unique path to Harper, making lifelong connections as a student, earning her advanced degrees, including a PhD in industrial organizational psychology, and talks about her career as an Executive Leadership Coach.

Download Episode 24 Transcript

portrait of Joseph Plazak

Harper Talks Episode 23 - Joseph Plazak- MP3

Harper Talks welcomes alumnus Joe Plazak, a senior principal software developer at Avid Technology. Plazak reminisces about serving as a student trustee and talks about his unique career path in music, which includes being an artist, teacher, scientist and engineer, and how it all started at Harper College. Plazak received the Distinguished Alumni Award in October 2022.

Download Episode 23 Transcript.

portrait of Drake Roberts and Anthony Tamras

Harper Talks Episode 22 - Drake Roberts and Anthony Tamras - MP3

Harper College 2018 alumni Drake Roberts and Anthony Tamras join Harper Talks to discuss their journey as students and entrepreneurs. Starting with an idea that formulated in their high school business incubator class, the pair discuss the pursuit of education at Harper College and DePaul while becoming full-fledged entrepreneurs and co-founders of DeoBlock, a company that specializes in reusable gym bag deodorizers.

Download Episode 22 Transcript.

portrait of Erik Horvat

Harper Talks Episode 21 - Erik Horvat - MP3

Harper Talks welcomes alumnus Erik Horvat who discusses his time at Harper College and his educational path beyond at both Purdue and Columbia. Horvat is the Managing Director, Head of Real Estate Americas at Olayan America. He discusses finding his way from accounting to real estate development and career milestones such as his lead role in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Horvat graduated from Harper College in 1993 and was honored in 2021 with the Harper College Distinguished Alumni Award.

Download Episode 21 Transcript.

portrait of Dr. Christopher Schneider

Harper Talks Show 20 - Dr. Christopher Schneider - MP3

Dr. Christopher Schneider joins Harper Talks guest host Jeff Julian for a discussion about his profound impact upon academia, sociology, and his published work that discusses the connection between information technology and police work. Dr. Schneider graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and his master’s in sociology from Northern Illinois University after his time at Harper College. He is now a full professor of sociology at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada after earning a doctorate in justice studies from Arizona State University in 2008. Dr. Schneider received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2021 and is involved in several community initiatives in Manitoba.

Download Episode 20 Transcript.

portrait of Brenda Knox

Harper Talks Show 19 - Brenda Knox - MP3

Harper Talks welcomes Brenda Knox, Founder and President of Financial Elements, Inc., in a discussion about navigating uncertainty within her career path and how her experience at Harper has contributed to her professional success. She graduated from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a major in Accounting after her time at Harper College. Knox received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019 and is currently an active member of the Harper College Educational Foundation.

Download Episode 19 Transcript.

portrait of Shannon Plate

Harper Talks Show 18 - Shannon Plate - MP3

Harper College alumna Shannon Plate, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), joins Harper Talks for a discussion about returning to Harper as an adult student and her successes as a practicing clinician and author. Plate graduated from Harper College in 1999 and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. She received the Motorola Award for Excellence and was a medalist in national competitions on the Speech Team during her time at Harper.

Download Episode 18 Transcript.

portrait of Roberto Lopez

Harper Talks Show 17 - Roberto Lopez - MP3

Harper Talks welcomes Roberto Lopez who speaks about how his time at Harper College provided the foundation for his current career as a consulting director at CCS Fundraising. Lopez attended DePaul University for his bachelor's degree in finance and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago for his master's degree. Lopez received the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award in 2021, and he has dedicated his career to philanthropic work and helping others prosper through adversity.

Download Episode 17 Transcript.

portrait of Tom Schnecke

Harper Talks Show 16 - Tom Schnecke - MP3

Tom Schnecke, Emmy winning Vice President and Director of Operations and Engineering for CBS2 Chicago, joins Harper Talks to discuss the experiences that have led him to his current career. Schnecke was named a Distinguished Alumni honoree in 2009, and he worked as the faculty advisor of WHCM for 17 years, which played an integral role in his future within broadcasting.

Download Episode 16 Transcript.

portrait of Mike Terson

Harper Talks Show 15 - Mike Terson - MP3

Mike Terson, Superintendent of Communication and Marketing for the Buffalo Grove Park District, joins Harper Talks to discuss his time as public address announcer for both the Chicago Wolves and Cubs, being named a Distinguished Alumni honoree, his time as student at Harper in the 1990s and how his experience at WHCM and as a speech team student helped lay the groundwork for his future career. Download Episode 15 Transcript.

portrait of Kristina Gaardbo

Harper Talks Show 14 - Kristina Gaardbo - MP3

Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton is joined by Harper Alumna Kristina Gaardbo, who graduated from the Nursing Program at Harper College and now co-owns the incredible Chicago Culinary Kitchen after pursuing her passion for culinary arts. Gaardbo received her Certified Cicerone certification from Siebel Institute. Gaardbo helped her husband, Greg, with his Shockwaves Promotional Apparel business and they always shared a passion for barbecue which started with backyard entertaining. The pair decided to turn their culinary love into a catering company in 2012, and then opened the award-winning Chicago Culinary Kitchen in 2016. Gaardbo’s restaurant has been rated the best barbeque in Illinois by Money Magazine and received numerous accolades. Gaardbo now has a food truck and has recently opened a new expanded restaurant location in Palatine.  Join Gaardbo and Shelton in their conversation about Gaardbo’s journey from a Harper College student to a successful business owner. Download Episode 14 Transcript.

portrait of Genevieve Frey-Moylan

Harper Talks Show 13 - Genevieve Frey-Moylan - MP3

Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton speaks with Genevieve Frey-Moylan, who is a graduate of the Harper Nursing Program and is currently the Director of the Cardiac Care Unit of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Illinois. Moylan has a Master of Science in Nursing and is both a Registered Nurse and a Certified Pediatric Nurse. Moylan began her journey at Harper College in 2001 and she graduated as the valedictorian of her nursing class in both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Moylan became a Harper Distinguished Alumni in 2016 recognized for her excellence and important role in the field of nursing as well as an inspiration for students, staff, and faculty at Harper College. Join Moylan and Shelton for an inspirational conversation about her incredible accomplishments and perseverance through adversity.  Download Episode 13 Transcript.>

portrait of Michael Nejman

Harper Talks Show 12 - Michael Nejman - MP3

Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton is joined by Michael Nejman, who is a man of many talents all ranging from being an author, agent, music connoisseur, master conflict resolver and notably a 2013 Harper Distinguished Alumni. As the first of his family to go to college, Nejman made the most of his experience at Harper by getting involved at the student newspaper, The Harbinger, and taking advantage of the many on-campus events hosted. This experience combined with his passion for music led him to his role as the campus concert chair where he booked a wide array of notable talent from John Prine to Journey. Nejman eventually moved into the role of director of student activities where he implemented several programs aimed to benefit the student body he was once a part of. All of this included him bringing curricular infusion to the campus that offered students a crossover of arts and academia, implementing revolutionary diversity programming and of course, offering an array of events to get students involved on campus. With an impressive list of accomplishments behind his name, Nejman retired after serving Harper’s students and staff for over thirty years. Even still he remains a part of the community. During COVID Michael and his wife pulled together a scholarship fund for nursing students at Harper, allowing for those who want to serve people within the healthcare field to have access to the tools and resources they need to do so. Join Michael and Brian in conversation and soak up the invaluable perspective Nejman has as both a student, staff member and devoted alumni. It’s a conversation you won’t want to miss!  Download Episode 12 Transcript.

portrait of Jim Gallo

Harper Talks Show 11 - Jim Gallo - MP3

On this month's episode of Harper Talks, Associate Professor of the Arts, Brian Shelton, is joined by Harper’s own distinguished alumni, Jim Gallo. Gallo reflects on his time at Harper, how he stayed detached from the experience and community as a student and how his own educational, professional and personal journey eventually led him back to Harper where he became highly involved in the community years later, acting as a board member and as a distinguished alumni. In this episode, Gallo shares his episodic journey, from suffering an accident his freshman year of college that led him to be paralyzed from the waist down causing him to transfer to Harper, to his professional trajectory and how his experience as an accountant pushed him to transition into journalism, all the way to his wheelchair basketball days at UIUC and how that lead him to forming one of the nation's largest youth wheelchair basketball programs. All of which share a common thread, how Gallo has taken the challenges he has faced and reshaped them into fruitful opportunities, much of which he credits to his time at the “hidden gem” that is Harper. Tune in this week and soak up the plethora of advice and guidance Gallo has to share not only about his own life and experience, but also the impact Harper has had on him and how that experience isn’t finite, there are tools and lessons offered that can be applied far beyond student's time on campus. Download Episode 11 Transcript.

portrait of Laurie Turpin-Soderholm

Harper Talks Show 10 - Laurie Turpin-Soderholm - MP3

On this month's episode of Harper Talks, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts, Brian Shelton, is joined by Harper's own distinguished alumni and community pillar, Laurie Turpin-Soderholm. Currently acting as Senior Project Manager of Global Access Meetings, Turpin-Soderholm revels about how her time at Harper led to not only her academic success, an alumni of both Georgetown and Northwestern respectively, but also her eventual success in this industry and what led her to it. Join the pair in conversation as they relish in her worldly experiences and how it has all led her back to Harper, where she serves as co-chair to Harper's Alumni Committee as well as her involvement with Harper's Giving Committee. Tune in and learn from how her time at Harper, or her self-proclaimed "launch pad", had led her to where she is today. Download Episode 10 Transcript.

portrait of Jake Sadoff

Harper Talks Show 9 - Jacob Sadoff - MP3

Jacob Sadoff is co-owner of Restore Hair and an active coach of Harper College's Speech Team. His time at Northern Illinois University was spent learning and opening a toy distributor with his twin brother Jordan. Over time the pair would found even more companies such as Goldmax and Restore. Tune in as Jacob and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton discuss philanthropy, the communities we are from, and serial entrepreneurship in this episode of Harper Talks. Download Episode 9 Transcript.

portrait of Laura Pulio Colbert

Harper Talks Show 8 - Laura Pulio Colbert - MP3

Assistant professor of communication arts, Brian Shelton welcomes director of theatre, Laura Pulio Colbert on the latest episode of Harper Talks. Laura discusses her own journey from Harper to Harper. Colbert was a Harper College graduate, class of 1983, and eventually made her way back to serve the college as a staff member. Join the pair as they discuss Colbert’s own experience with community college and the transfer process, reflect on Harper then and now, delve into college not only being a place for education but also a place for personal development, the value of arts education and one of her greatest revelations had over a buffalo chicken sandwich. There’s so much to gain from Colbert’s honest, insightful and humorous retelling of her own career and life path, all laid out in this months episode of Harper Talks. Download Episode 8 Transcript.

portrait of Raeghan Graessle, Marie Lapidus, Kevin Long

Harper Talks Bonus Show 7 - Teaching in a Pandemic - MP3

In a special bonus episode of Harper Talks Assistant Professor of Communication Arts, Brian Shelton, is joined by his colleagues to discuss the adjustments and adaptations they have made this past year in response to the shifting educational environment. Assistant Professor of Physics, Raeghan Graessle, Assistant Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship, Marie Lapidus and Associate Professor of Speech, Kevin Long, all join Brian Shelton in conversation about their first hand experience with transitioning to isolated learning.. Download Episode 7 Transcript.

portrait of Jamie Pritscher

Harper Talks Show 6 - Jamie Pritscher - MP3

2013's Distinguished Alumni award-winner Jamie Pritscher comes from a family of entrepreneurs, drawing from that when she co-founded That's Caring, a socially-conscious and eco-friendly solution to gift baskets. Jamie also founded nuphoriq, a full-service marketing agency specializing in the catering industry, as well as sitting on the boards of the Community Character Coalition and Friends of Busse Woods. Join Jamie and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton as they discuss getting started, getting involved, and how working for yourself can really be. Download Episode 6 Transcript.

portrait of Greg Cadichon

Harper Talks Show 5 - Greg Cadichon - MP3

2019 Distinguished Alumni Greg Cadichon injured his hamstring training for a National Junior College Athletic Association track meet while enrolled at Harper College. He is no stranger to hardship, and the experience proved to be an education. During the recovery from his injury he became fascinated with the rehabilitation process, eventually founding Rebound Fitness in Northbrook. Join Greg and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton as they discuss focusing in school, finding a calling, and more on Harper Talks. Download Episode 5 Transcript.

Reveca Torres

Harper Talks Show 4 - Reveca Torres - MP3

Reveca Torres earned her associate degree from Harper College in 2002, and went on to earn a degree in theatre arts from the University of Arizona in 2004. This is a path made difficult by her paralysis, caused by a car accident at 13 years of age. In 2009, Reveca Torres founded Backbones, a non-profit providing support for individuals with spinal cord injuries. Listen in as Reveca Torres and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton discuss accessibility, her artistic work, and accomplishments on Harper Talks. Download Episode 4 Transcript.

Joe McEnery

Harper Talks Show 3 - Joe McEnery - MP3

Alumnus Joe McEnery attended Harper College then majored in education at Illinois State University and taught for 4 years as a middle school teacher. With that beginning you would not assume Joe McEnery would be where he is today, a lieutenant and paramedic in the Elk Grove Village Fire Rescue Department. His experience at Harper College has shaped his career as a public servant. Join Joseph McEnery and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton as they discuss making life changing career decisions, service to the community and more topics on Harper Talks. Download Episode 3 Transcript.

Ann Portmann

Harper Talks Show 2 - Ann Portmann - MP3

Ann Portmann had a 20-year career as a financial planner and accountant before she discovered a different calling in nursing. Her experience in the Harper College nursing program started her on the path to earning hospice, palliative nurse, and wound care certifications. She works as the care team manager at JourneyCare Barrington and is a 2020 Harper College Distinguished Alumni. Join Ann Portmann and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton as they discuss career leaps, hospice care, and more topics on Harper Talks.  Download Episode 2 Transcript.

Scott Lietzow

Harper Talks Show 1 - Scott Lietzow - MP3

Scott Lietzow is the Harper College 2020 Outstanding Recent Alumni Honoree. Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps, Scott Lietzow used the G.I. Bill to earn an education at Harper College. Hear as he and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Brian Shelton discuss how his time at Harper College and in the Marines prepared Scott for his future. Scott became a member of former U.S. Rep. Bob Dold's congressional campaign and would come to work at Allstate as a military talent senior consultant. Download Episode 1 Transcript.

Questions about the podcast or know an alum who might fit the bill to be featured? Email alumni@harpercollege.edu.


Last Updated: 5/2/24