Al Larson, Harper Alum and Mayor of Schaumburg

  • Communications
  • May 12, 2017

In his longtime role as Schaumburg's mayor, Al Larson has delivered his share of speeches. Each time, he recalls the words of wisdom handed down years earlier in a Harper College classroom headed by now-retired Instructor John Muchmore."

He'd say, 'They're not just speeches. They're presentations,'" Larson recalls. "That helped me. It gave me so much confidence in public speaking and addressing crowds." Larson, a 1972 graduate who has logged more than 35 years in public service, is the recipient of Harper's 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award - an honor that salutes his career and community achievements. "Through his leadership, Al Larson has helped position Schaumburg as a municipal and economic leader in the state of Illinois, and his support of Harper has been unwavering," says Catherine Brod, Vice President of Community Relations and Executive Director of the College's Educational Foundation, which bestows the annual alumni award. "He is a shining example of what community colleges can help you accomplish."

Larson was a science major when he attended Harper, juggling a full load of evening credits while holding down a full-time job. But he says it was Muchmore's public speaking course that equipped him with the tools he needed to launch and maintain his political career. After graduating with an associate degree, Larson abandoned plans to study law at Northeastern University and instead took on the role of Schaumburg's public relations director. He went on to serve as the village's Environmental Committee chair and as a village trustee before being elected Mayor in 1987.

Larson is a longtime Harper advocate, helping forge vital partnerships as his success grew locally. He was chosen as this year's award recipient from a field of 40 nominations.

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