For more than 25 years, Kyle Chezem has been motivating young people to strive for success and engage their community. Serving as a social studies teacher, youth pastor, and basketball coach, Kyle has been an influential member of the La Porte community. He has served as a delegate for the Fulbright Teaching program to Japan, as well as volunteering as a teaching instructor at an underprivileged school in India. Kyle lives in La Porte with his beautiful, amazing, and patient wife Heather and their two kids.
Zach Diamond ’19 is a senior computer science major with business analytics and mathematics minors at Valparaiso University. He is currently taking graduate courses for a cyber security master’s program, the area he plans to focus his career in. Zach’s involvements have included serving on the University Programming Council (UPC) executive board as productions chair, concert & entertainment chair, and vice president. Additionally, he has served as Lambda Chi Alpha’s social chair and president. These opportunities have pushed him to grow as a person, as a professional, and as a leader. These experiences have allowed him to build important relationships with his peers and advisors. Zach currently works as a software developer at Dwyer Instruments where he has worked on many different projects including troubleshooting and researching various forms of security related services in the information technology department.
Adam Green is a second-year student of the James Madison College at Michigan State University where he is pursuing his pre-law major in political theory and constitutional democracy. Adam is the president and founder of the James Madison College Conservatives, a student organization on campus devoted to promoting opportunities for people to engage in bipartisan civil discourse across Michigan State and in Lansing. Adam has always possessed a passion for speaking with those around him regarding social topics, governmental policy matters, and historical facts and events. Ranging from policy forums, small group debates, and candidate town-halls, Adam has helped host more than 20 different platforms of opportunities for students to engage in civil discourse on campus this past year alone.He has found that the necessity for civil discourse in our society to exist is essential to the health and well-being of our nations, our society, and our own self interests.
Margaret Heinz ’21 is a sophomore at Valparaiso University where she studies biology and chemistry while also being on the pre-med track. She participates in many activities on campus including College Mentors for Kids, Athena Society, Celebrate band, SALT, VUDU, YoungLife, and Kappa Kappa Gamma. She also works as a math tutor. After undergraduate studies, she aspires to go to medical school somewhere along the West Coast and study to be a pediatric or trauma surgeon. She grew up in Dundee, Illinois, but would like to move to either New York or California in the coming years. She is very excited to be participating in the TEDx program this year and hopes you enjoy her talk.
Andrea Jamison is a librarian and lecturer at Valparaiso University. She holds a master of art in teaching from Concordia University and a master of library and information science from Dominican University where she is also completing her doctoral studies. With more than 17 years of experience working in schools and libraries, Andrea considers herself to be a social agitator. She was recently selected as reading ambassador for diverse children’s books by Lee and Low Publishing. As an ambassador, Andrea speaks internationally about issues related to creating inclusive learning spaces for youth and the interplay of race, power, and privilege in children’s books. Currently, she is a board member for ALA’s Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtables and serves as chair for the David Cohen/Multicultural Awards. She also works extensively with ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom as a contributing blogger and member of their prison rights and collection development working groups.
Ellen Lin is a 7-figure e-commerce entrepreneur, e-commerce coach, Amazon best-selling author, international speaker who spoke at a Fortune 500 company. She was also featured on Grant Cardone TV, The Huffington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Her core mission is to use her knowledge in e-commerce to teach and empower others so everyone can create the lifestyle they want by selling online by using based on her success story of building a million dollar e-commerce store with $600 in four years.
Brian McKenna ’92, LCSW, CAADC earned his BSW degree from Valparaiso University, and his MSW from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a practicing licensed clinical social worker and a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor in the state of Illinois. Brian has more than 25 years of counseling experience helping children, teens, and adults tap into their strengths, endure challenges, and achieve their life goals. He inspires and motivates people to become healthier, happier, and more connected in their relationships and families. Have you ever considered what momentum is all about? Come learn three parts of the equation to building personal momentum: connection, reflection, and direction. Approach life by repeatedly making the most of the moment, and personal momentum will be created.
Paromita Mitra works at NASA Johnson Space Center as a human interface engineer on the informatics subsystem for NASA’s next-generation spacesuits. Her research encompasses graphical displays, wearable technology, augmented reality, and developing a heads-up display (HUD) helmet apparatus to aid in astronaut performance, cognitive workload, and user experience. She has held positions working as an engineer on F-35 engines, designing Earth science satellites, and analyzing human psycho-physiology and cognitive behavior for software development. A first-generation immigrant from Dhaka, Bangladesh, Paromita represented the state of Mississippi at the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants as Miss Mississippi USA 2013 and Miss Mississippi Teen USA 2009, where she traveled to spread awareness on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) literacy topics. Paromita holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Mississippi State University. Her passions include diversity in tech and issues of femininity in engineering.
Stefanie is an organizational psychologist and leadership coach on a mission to identify, elevate, and develop strong leaders and inclusive organizations. She is driven by being a young mom, avid dog lover, and lifelong learner who wants to make the world a better place. Through her assessment and coaching with Vantage Leadership Consulting, Stefanie has realized the fundamental difference that authentic, people-focused leaders make, not just in improving business results but in positively impacting employees’ lives. Great leadership matters to individuals, teams, and organizations as a whole. Stefanie shares her experiences, insight, and learnings on her website and blog, The Female Leader’s Edge, a personal passion project she recently launched. Her work through The Female Leader’s Edge builds a local and online community of women and allies who, like her, believe that when we support one another and drive inclusion, we can rise up and change the world.
Nancy Scannell is an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, directs the exploratory program and has taught Core, English, and general studies courses at Valpo. She earned her B.A. in English at the University of Illinois and studied abroad in Cardiff, Wales. Nancy’s master of arts in education is from St. Xavier University, and her master of science in digital media from Valparaiso University. She is a leadership coach, and she serves on the Foundation Board at Porter-Starke Services. She was on the Valparaiso Y Board and was race director for the Saint Paul Spirit Run for 10 years. Nancy and her husband Tim are from Chicago, and they have five children, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Brendan, Brigid, and Kevin, and two grandchildren, Eileen and Charlie. Nancy is a runner and writer and lover of God, family, friends, and books. She shares inspiration on her blog ReflectionsontheRun.com.
Herb Stepherson is a person living in long-term recovery. He struggled with the nightmares of drug addiction for 13 years. He ended up strung out on heroin and crack and living on the streets of Chicago. His addiction destroyed him and his entire family. At times he prayed for death and contemplated suicide. He has been jailed, overdosed multiple times, and ate out of garbage cans to sustain himself. He was one that so many considered “a lost cause.” Herb credits God for stepping in to intervene and redirect him to a life of recovery. Since he has found recovery, Herb has dedicated his life to spreading awareness of our increasing drug crisis and helping those still struggling find recovery. He is a nationally certified family recovery coach with USA Addiction and True Interventions, published author (“Junkbox Diaries: a Day in the Life of a Heroin Addict”), public speaker, and advocate for recovery. He truly believes that recovery is possible and lives his entire life always aiming to help “just one more.”
Adra Young is a native of Gary, Indiana. A graduate of Roosevelt High School and former educator for the Detroit Public School System, her expertise with the youth exceeds well over two decades. Serving for the Detroit Impact Center as a social skills provider on the city’s west side, she pinpointed the lack of tangible resources available for students residing within the community. Creating a curriculum specifically addressing the concerns of youngsters facing overwhelming social dynamics, it was utilized in various after-school programs on both the city’s east and west side. Assuming the position of liaison for the “Conversation About Race Project” for the campus she taught at in 2014, the overall purpose of the forums were to address the climate and cultural concerns of African American male students. The author of three young adult reads, Adra spends a large bulk of her time speaking locally and nationally on issues such as bullying and reducing school suspension with students of color. The owner of Ardannyl LLC, the mission of her company is putting youngsters back on track through encouragement and guidance.