Started from the bottom, now they’re here


By Shelby Tankersley

What were prestigious Oakland faculty doing before they became professionals?

Sometimes it can be hard for students to view a dean or a professor as a real person because of their authority.

But the reality is that they were once students, trekking their way through a higher education. They once held those novelty jobs many high school students and college students hold.

James Hargett and Graeme Harper in particular did some work that may seem very familiar to college students like us here at Oakland University.

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Hargett, OU’s Assistant Vice President and Controller, held several jobs before he got his first professional career.

“I started out as a paper boy delivering for the Oakland Press,” Hargett said.

He also said he held jobs like being a dishwasher and a busboy at a restaurant. The jobs that have helped him the most were working in construction and as a mechanic.

“During my last year of college, I worked a construction job,” Hargett said. “I helped build several homes, decks and pole barns.”

He said that this, along with his time as a mechanic, led to him to taking better care of his cars and doing plenty of “do-it-yourself” projects around his home. The jobs he held before Oakland gave him skills that he still uses.

I’m on a boat

Graeme Harper, an OU professor and Dean of the Honors College, has been around when it comes to jobs. He’s done everything from boat building to baking.

“I used to get up at 4 a.m., get on my skateboard, skateboard to the grocery store and mop,” Harper said.

He said that he later worked in factories, for a bakery, wrote books and did some screen writing, too.

“I was a screen writer for a film company for about six years,” he said.

Harper also worked on a fishing boat catching shrimp and spent some time building boats.

“It was kind of cool making stuff. We made boats for the Singaporean police force,” Harper said. “At the end we were like, ‘Wow. We made this.’”

Harper concluded that no matter what kind of job one was holding, it is important that they are having fun with it.

“I think, if you’re having a good time and enjoying it, that’s a great thing to wake up to,” he said.