Harper College

2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Dexter Gardner

Licensed and Ordained Youth Minister at the Second Baptist Church in Palatine

Dexter Gardner

Dexter Gardner inspires young people to achieve their best and pursue an education at Harper. While attending Harper, he was president of the Black Student Union and also was instrumental in forming the Harper Gospel Choir club.

"There are many in our lives who tell us the things that we are not capable of and are not meant to do. Like many of you who sit here today, I was one who was told that a college education was out of my reach.  I was told that my test scores showed that I was incapable of going any further.  I was told 'stop' before I started," Dexter told the commencement audience.

"It was my parents that told me to stand when things got tough.  It was my brothers who told me to stand when things got rough.  It was my church family who stood with me in prayer.  It is my wife and son who stand with me in this occasion.  First and foremost it was and is God who I serve who stands above it all.


John Loprieno

Actor, Writer, and Director

John Loprieno

John Loprieno has extensive professional credentials as an actor, writer and director, and is known for his 13-year run on the daytime drama series "One Life to Live," on which he played the role of Cord Roberts.  He has appeared in a variety of productions off Broadway, regionally and in Los Angeles. John is former adjunct faculty member at Harper, is a full-time theatre arts faculty member at Moorpark College in California.

John thanked his father and brother as well as former instructors John Muchmore, Marcia Litrenta and Mary Jo Willis, whom he said had a positive impact on his life after Harper.  John taught at Harper two years ago and said it was a treat to be back and see the growth that's taken place during the last 30 years.


John F. Rippinger

Owner of Rippinger Financial Group

John F. Rippinger

John F. Rippinger is a Schaumburg resident and owner of the Rippinger Financial Group of Companies, voted one of the "Best Places to Work in Illinois" in 2007. He is a major sponsor of the Schaumburg Youth Orchestra and is actively involved in a number of charities.

"In 1967, I needed at least a two-year degree for the engineering job that I was in and I had just heard about Harper. I started, of all places, in a portable trailer at Elk Grove Village High School and went there for several semesters before moving to the new campus in Palatine.

It was there in June of 1970 I received my Associate in Applied Science degree," John said.  "The foundation established at Harper enabled me to start seven different companies in Schaumburg, employ 45 people and really, at this point in my life, start giving back to the community as well as pursuing some of my other life passions.  So, what has Harper College done for me? Pretty much everything."


Dr. Jaime Quezada

Medical Practitioner

Jaime Quezada

Dr. Jaime Quezada dropped out of high school with an uncertain future. The son of Mexican immigrants, Jaime lacked the confidence to pursue better opportunities for himself, but had the dream of becoming a doctor.

After receiving his associate's degree at Harper, he transferred and earned a bachelor's degree. From there it was on to the University of Illinois where he attended medical school. Jaime is fulfilling his dream by practicing medicine in the Wisconsin area.

"Sixteen years ago had you told me that I would be a physician and Distinguished Alumni I would have thought you were nuts," Jaime said.  "In all honesty I was petrified; at 28 I knew this was my last chance to make 'something' out of myself.  By this time in my life I had become acutely aware of my own ignorance and met with an advisor. This meeting with my friend Phil Troyer changed my life."  He said his wife, Abigail and sons Toby and Jake "taught me the true meaning of love and life."

Last Updated: 3/14/24