A dinner-and-dancing gala aimed at raising funds for Harper College scholarships and programs drew about 300 supporters last weekend -- from faculty, administrators, trustees and members of the College's Educational Foundation board to Northwest suburban business owners and community members.
The 45th Anniversary President's Ball, held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, generated nearly $390,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales, donations, a raffle and silent auction.
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Proceeds will be used by the Educational Foundation to support Harper students and encourage their academic and career success.
The evening carried a "Stars of the Past, Stars of the Future" theme, with Harper theater students acting the parts of 1930s and '40s socialites and paparazzi and a video montage showcasing current and future Harper students whose academic careers, and future successes, have been impacted by donors.
The foundation last year awarded about $300,000 in scholarships to Harper students and provided about $135,000 in grants toward a variety of college programming, including a just-for-kids College and Career Expo that served to inspire local elementary and middle-school students to pursue higher education.
The President's Ball was highlighted by a speech from Harper student and scholarship winner Elisa Galvan, a future teacher who says winning the Motorola Solutions Foundation Award for Excellence helped fund classes and -- as importantly -- empowered her to study education and realize her potential.
With tears sometimes in her eyes, she told attendees that donations can change lives.
Galvan's comments were followed by a live appeal for scholarship funding, with guests supporting awards to cover everything from a single credit hour to a year of part-time or full-time tuition.
Professor Jeff Przybylo, who coaches Harper's award-winning Speech and Debate Team, emceed the evening, which also served as an introductory event for newly appointed Chief Advancement Officer Dr. Mary Knight.
"State funding for community colleges has decreased, but our students' need for financial assistance and innovative educational programming is not going away," said Lane Moyer, immediate past president of the foundation's board of directors.
"Events like this one are increasingly important as we look for opportunities to champion our students and, as a community, help them succeed."
Moyer, a partner at the Chicago law firm of Vedder Price P.C., co-chaired the gala committee with fellow foundation board member Derrick Hamilton, vice president of U-Verse Field Operations-Midwest for AT&T.