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Jeff and Lauren Przybylo

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While Jeff Przybylo’s formal connection with Harper College began in 1996 when he accepted a full-time faculty position as a speech instructor and head coach of Harper College’s speech team, Jeff has been a friend of the College for some time.

Jeff’s life journey began in Chicago in the late 1960s. The first child of very young parents, Jeff and his brother, John, learned independence and self-sufficiency at an early age when their mother assumed all financial, household, and parental responsibilities for the boys at the age of 19 after Jeff’s father left them.

The president of the Class of 1986 from Forest View High School in Arlington Heights - the last graduating class before the school closed - Jeff was an outgoing student, participating in the speech and track teams. Following high school, Jeff went to Northern Illinois University on a speech scholarship and was a member of NIU’s speech team all four years while earning his bachelor’s degree in public communication. Jeff continued his master’s level education at Illinois State University where he coached the speech team and taught his first class — a section of Speech 101. It was through a beloved professor and his own in-class experience that he began to fully appreciate the role of an instructor in the student’s discovery process. Jeff completed his Masters in Communication in two years, with a minor in education, and began searching for a faculty position.

While he interviewed with Harper, he ultimately accepted his first full-time teaching position on a one-year contract with Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was asked to start a speech team at the University. Having grown up in a fairly homogenous area in the Chicago suburbs, his time with this historically all-black college enriched his own multi-cultural experience and education. Jeff believes he learned as much from his students that year as they learned from him.

From Lincoln University, Jeff’s next position was with Northwest Missouri State where he coached and taught speech for three years. But ultimately a job at Harper College opened and Jeff was recruited back to the Chicago suburbs by then Department Chair Marcia Litrenta.

When he arrived at Harper, Jeff established an aggressive vision for his career and for the speech program. His desire was to create a ‘speech community’ that extended beyond the two years students spend on our campus into activities and responsibilities as alumnus. Jeff is very proud of the academic excellence exhibited by students on the team. Former students of the program are now in place as speech teachers and coaches at several schools in Harper’s district, including Barrington High School, Elk Grove High School and Buffalo Grove High School. Thanks to Jeff’s enthusiasm, ongoing love for continuous improvement of the classroom experience, and investment in his students, the program has one of the most active alumni affinity groups on campus.

Jeff’s wife, Lauren Morgan Przybylo, is also a faculty member and team coach in the community college system at the College of DuPage in Illinois. Jeff and Lauren met years ago as colleagues at ISU and continue to collaborate and compete around their love of the teaching and speech team development.

Jeff and Lauren have generously planned for an endowed scholarship with each of their respective institutions for speech team students. At Harper, the scholarship will be designated as the Jeffrey Przybylo Endowed Speech Team Scholarship and Jeff plans to begin building the fund during his lifetime.

It is Jeff’s hope that through the generosity of alumni and donors, the Foundation will ultimately have 14 endowed scholarships in place for speech team participants — one for each of the 14 team members that compete in the National tournament each year.

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