Rebuilding The American Dream

Degree Insurance

In this podcast we introduce you to thought leaders who are shaping the lives of the next generation, to discuss the challenges and innovations shaping higher education and how it can adapt to give students a strong foundation for their futures. Through in-depth conversations with leading voices in education, we discover what it takes to give students the tools they need to excel and succeed in order to rebuild the American Dream.

All Episodes

As a registered pharmacist, Dr. Cynthia Warrick is highly skilled at recommending treatments and remedies. Now in her historic career as an HBCU president, Dr. Warrick continues to be a problem solver and stabilizer in distressed environments. Dr. Warrick is a native of San Antonio, Texas and graduated from Howard University with the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, and completed the Masters of Science in Public Policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Doctorate in Environmental Science & Public Policy from George Mason University.   The first female president of Stillman College joins the Rebuilding the American Dream Podcast where she discusses her drive for entering higher education leadership; the need to connect students to career and industries sooner and the importance of the general education core for holistic education. 

Dec 1

36 min 11 sec

Dr. Julie Basler is President of Platt College in Aurora, Colorado. Prior to coming to Platt College in 2007, Dr. Basler served as the Coordinator of Fine Arts and Associate Professor of English and Speech Communications at Columbia State Community College in middle Tennessee for nearly a decade.  Dr. Basler earned her degrees from the University of Tennessee at Martin, Murray State University in Kentucky, and Middle Tennessee State University.Fiercely proud of, and grateful for, her upbringing and education in small communities, Dr. Basler shares in this episode why individualized mentorship is life changing, helping  all students to feel valued; the importance of allowing our students to make, and correct, mistakes; and then celebrating the successes - especially the small ones. 

Nov 24

52 min 23 sec

Kelly Damphousse was appointed Chancellor at Arkansas State University in 2017. The Canadian native, the first in his family to attend college, knows first-hand the profound impact higher education can have on a lifetime. Prior to joining A-State, Chancellor Damphousse was at Oklahoma University where he was Dean of the College of Arts and Science. Accessible to all, his personal touch with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the A-State community is a Damphousse hallmark.In this conversation, Chancellor Damphousse discusses the changing landscape of college athletics; the growth of online Instruction and the continuing importance of in-person classes; and finding ways to help students to understand the value proposition of college. He also shares his thoughts on what "The American Dream" means and how a college education is central to that success. 

Oct 7

35 min 54 sec

Nicholas Perrin is President at Trinity International University. Appointed to the role in 2019, he became the 16th President of the evangelical Christian university headquartered in Illinois. Before this, he served as Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, and also as dean of Wheaton Graduate School for five years. In this conversation, President Perrin discusses diversity on campus - why it’s so crucial and how it can shape the conversation around academic freedom; explains how colleges are missing an opportunity to create “meaningful contact” for students through mentorship; and describes the United States as somewhere that people can rise “from the bottom to the top”, with higher education as a valuable safety net.

Sep 3

32 min 20 sec

Dr. Guiyou Huang is president of Western Illinois University. Appointed to the role this year, he is focused on increasing student attendance and retention, and encouraging University innovation. Prior to this, he spent nearly four decades at educational institutions in China and the United States. In this conversation, Dr. Huang reflects on his unexpected path into the higher education sphere - how he never initially intended to become a teacher, nor a University president, and what then attracted him to the sector; explores the wide variety of barriers that he feels are currently standing in the way of potential students feeling University is right for them; and explains the work he and his institution are doing to drive forward inclusivity, and remove some of the current obstacles for the next generation of college-bound students.

Aug 13

39 min 50 sec

Nouman Kante is student body president at Southern Utah University. He was elected into this role in March last year, and is currently in his second term. A business student, he completed his undergraduate degree in business and is now pursuing his MBA. His role is to act as a bridge between students and the administration, by representing the interest of the whole community. In this conversation, Nouman discusses his own experience attending College and the difficulties he found adapting to this new environment; explains why he was motivated to, and wants to encourage others to partake in student government; and shares the role scholarships played in encouraging him to attend College in the first instance, and the many financial barriers that still exist.  

Jun 3

14 min 32 sec

Ephraim Kum is student body president at University of Utah. Working on a major in political science, he was elected into the role earlier this year. A US immigrant who left Ghana aged one, he is the third Black student body president, and the first Ghanian-born president in the University’s history. His student voice work centers around affordability, transparency, connectivity and being able to “redefine the access students have.” In this conversation, Ephraim delves into his College experience so far, and the breadth of opportunity he’s been given in this; describes how Utah are adapting to the changing needs of its students, particularly moving towards a hybrid model of education; and explains why Government need to better prioritise higher education, with cost still being a huge barrier that makes the experience exclusive, rather than as it should be, inclusive. 

May 25

35 min 21 sec

Dr Beth Akers is an academic, author and economist. Currently a resident at the American Enterprise Institute, she was formerly a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and staff economist with the ‘Council of Economic Advisors’ under President George W. Bush. Also a writer, she co-authored ‘Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt,’ and her writing has also been featured in; The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. In this conversation, Beth shares her opinion on why access to higher education is so important - as a key driver for country-wide social mobility; describes the significant role innovation plays in the sector, and how this has been forcefully encouraged by the pandemic; and explains why she thinks College isn’t too expensive, but too risky, and how we can begin minimising this risk. 

May 14

27 min 50 sec

Danielle Corbett is student body president at Utah Valley University. In her current position, she focuses on taking a systemic approach to combat social problems; centered around mental health, sustainability and accessibility to educational opportunities. Danielle is the first female student to be elected into the role since the 90s, and is proud of UVU’s mission to “come as you are.” In this conversation, Danielle reflects on being a first-generation student, and the people who inspired her into higher education; explains the significance of representation in student government, and how vital it is that all students feel comfortable and accounted for; and discusses some of the obstacles preventing young people from applying for College - namely a lack of education around financial aid, and concerns of accumulating student loan debt. 

May 6

37 min 24 sec

Carol Aslanian is president and founder of Aslanian Market Research. Established in 2009, the Education Dynamics company is a leader in higher education intelligence - assessing increased enrollment, in-demand programs, student satisfaction and more. Previously, Carol was chief executive of the Aslanian Group in New York City, which focused on assisting colleges and universities in the recruitment and servicing of adult students. In this conversation, Carol delves into the significance of higher education, and how it’s “something no one can take away from you;” explains the sector’s current data trends and predictions for its future, particularly an emphasis on hybrid and blended learning models; and gives her take on what students want from their College experience - namely a low price, and a job. 

Apr 29

29 min 10 sec

Ryan Tipton is provost and vice president at the University of The Southwest (USW). Founded in 1962, the New Mexico based-institution is a private, four-year Christian University offering wide-ranging degrees both on campus and online. Starting out his career as an entrepreneur growing an oil company, he pivoted into education when he enrolled at Walden University. He later joined USW as Dean, before being appointed to his current position in 2019. In this conversation, he discusses how College bureaucracy holds institutions back from much-needed change and innovation; explains the changing educational landscape - and how with the rise of the internet, Universities are no longer the sole “gatekeepers to knowledge;” and describes the complexities of student debt, and how the decision of going to College must be best on the value proposition. 

Apr 23

46 min 52 sec

Mike Nietzel is the former president of Missouri State University. Starting out at the University of Kentucky, as director of the Clinical Psychology Program he then moved on to become the chair of the department of psychology, dean of the graduate school, and finally, provost. Author of two books ‘Degrees and Pedigrees: The Education of America's Top Executives’ and ‘Coming to Grips With Higher Education,’ - following his retirement he became senior policy advisor to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. In this conversation, Mike discusses the impact the pandemic has had on the sector, particularly the ongoing issue of access and affordability for first-generation and students of colour; explains why it’s so important for young people to get all the way through the College process - from the admissions, to receiving their credentials; and describes why there’s a public lack of confidence in higher education right now, and how its value mustn’t be forgotten. 

Apr 15

31 min 26 sec

Michael Brickman is a national policy leader and principal at Sheer Partners. The Washington D.C-based advisory focuses on guidance at the intersection of education and careers. Previously, he served as a senior advisor for the U.S Department of Education, and was National policy director of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. In this conversation, Michael explains how his experience in higher education spurred him on to improving the institution for the next generation, and his hopes to make it more of an enjoyable journey; describes ongoing disparities in student attainment and the impact this is set to have on employers being unable to meet their quotas; and shares how important it is for the purpose and goals of institutions to be aligned with the pursuits of the students that are attending them.

Apr 8

36 min 49 sec

Emily Hernandez-Alzamora is student association President at Salt Lake Community College. A first-generation student of the school, she was elected in 2020 to “act as a bridge between the students and administration by representing and expressing the opinions and interests of SLCC students.” In this conversation, Emily reflects on how she was taught about the meaning and value of higher education from a young age; explains the impact the pandemic has had on College life, and the difficulties students’ have faced in pursuing their academic interests this year; and describes the financial obstacles posed by higher education, and how we all have to do more to make sure that every young person who wants to access it, can.  

Apr 1

26 min 18 sec

Randy Pembrook is chancellor of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Appointed in 2016, he returned to the campus where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and piano performance. A long career in the sector, he has taken on roles including; vice president for academic affairs at Washburn University; dean of the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and interim provost and vice president for enrollment management at Baker University. In this conversation, Randy reflects on his experience at College - from being a first-generation student, to experiencing an entire career in the sector; explains how vital liberal arts degrees are to society, equipping students’ with a much broader variety of skills; and discusses the ever-increasing cost of higher education, and how we need to remember that it is “a force for public good.”

Mar 26

32 min 53 sec

Jeff Selingo is a New York Times best-selling author and special advisor for innovation to the President of Arizona State University. A regular contributor for The Atlantic and The Washington Post, he was previously the top editor for The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he worked for 16 years. In his latest book ‘Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside College Admissions,’ he takes readers on a journey through the college selection process to reveal what really matters to the gatekeepers. In this conversation, Jeff describes the recent trends in the sector, and whether the changes brought about by the pandemic are here to stay; gives his take  on the elite College admissions process, and the importance for students to think about their “skill sets and competencies” over specific majors, ; and shares his forecast for the future of higher education - hybrid models, free courses and of course, debt.

Mar 18

29 min 34 sec

Salen Churi is co-founder and general partner at Trust Ventures. The venture capital fund facilitates the next generation of start-ups with funding, policy and innovation advice to help unleash their potential. Before this, he was a law professor at the University of Chicago where he founded its Innovation Clinic, and also worked at international firms - Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin. In this conversation, Salen reflects on educational complacency and how the pandemic has spurred much needed innovation and transformation in the sector; describes his work with different tech start-ups and his drive to make policy and regulation meet their needs; and explains what the American Dream means to him - from not finishing High School, to building a business from the ground up. 

Mar 12

41 min 32 sec

Ruzwana Bashir is co-founder and chief executive of The award-winning platform is a one-stop shop to book high-quality activities, while also empowering tour operators to automate their business and grow revenues. Starting her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, she then moved into private equity at Blackstone. She was also named in Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ and was one of Fortune's ‘Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.’ In this conversation, Ruzwana describes how going to College and gaining many intangible skills set her on the path to success; gives her take on how the last year has transformed entrepreneurship - encouraging a mindset of innovation and experimentation;explains the many boundaries and barriers to higher education for many young people, and argues that we all have a part to play in making it more accessible for everyone. 

Mar 9

44 min 10 sec

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. Author of the popular weekly USA Today column, "Ask HR” he is a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, and was appointed by former president Donald Trump as Chair of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In this conversation, Johnny reflects on his College experience, being the first-generation in his family to attend, and the importance of helping  young people get “entrance into the game.” He explains how the higher education landscape is continuing to change, with 2020 being a symbolic year for race relations in the US, some of the bias is going away but the country still has a way to go. Lastly, Johnny describes the mentality needed to achieve the American Dream, and how in his opinion, education always pays off. 

Feb 25

39 min 17 sec

Davis Warnock is managing director at Mercato Partners Prelude, which supports entrepreneurs and experienced founders who are building deep customer relationships through product leadership and nimble execution. Before this, he was at the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) - the global community for middle market M&A dealmakers and business leaders focused on driving growth. In this conversation, Davis discusses the value of higher education in developing personal character and strengthening networks – opening individuals up to greater opportunities later on in life. He describes the huge financial commitment and pressures that going to College can pose, for not only the students’, but their families too. Lastly, Davis states the importance of previous  generations in providing guidance and encouragement to young people coming through turbulent economic and political times.

Feb 18

26 min

Burke Davis is a partner at Sorenson Capital. He joined in 2014 as a member of the firm’s technology practice, focused on the way that data and information shape the world. Previously, he was a financial analyst with Citigroup’s Global Technology Group, where he advised some of the world’s most influential technology companies, before serving as a senior financial analyst at Samsung NEXT. In this conversation, Burke describes how finishing higher education with a degree enables you to  add value to society immediately,- which is both financially beneficial to individuals and society as a whole; argues there is currently a lack of data, tools and infrastructure to help young adults make big life decisions, such as which College they should attend or what major they should take to achieve their career goals. He shares how despite his father not being traditionally educated, seeing him succeed as a self-made entrepreneur, and “create something out of nothing” helped him become  a “big believer” in the American Dream.


Feb 11

36 min 29 sec

Darcy Howe is founder and managing director of KCRise Fund, a Kansas City-based venture capital firm designed to connect high-net-worth individuals and corporations with those in need of investment. She has served on the boards of multiple companies, with over 20 years’ experience as an angel investor, and a founding member of Women’s Capital Connection, who invest in women-led, early stage business. In this conversation, Darcy discusses the importance of Colleges in thinking about the economic development of their regions and how students’ skills can foster regional growth; describes the value of higher education in building long-term relationships as “a place where anybody can find their people.” Lastly, she argues “smart universities will ask their students for help with innovation,” with students being more adept at breaking the old-fashioned mould.  

Feb 4

36 min 48 sec

Marie Sanderson is a partner at Guidepost Strategy - a federal strategic consulting and government affairs firm assisting in message positioning, legislative strategy, issue management and advocacy. Starting her career in public service on Capitol Hill for Senator Thad Cochran, she then worked alongside Governor Haley Barbour as their policy director. Last year, she co-founded the MS 30 Day Fund, a nonprofit to support small businesses impacted by the pandemic. In this conversation,  she describes the importance of college cities and towns in keeping the talent at home, fostering a stimulating job market that enables students to use their degrees after graduation; argues that policy is vital in bringing about sector-wide change and to facilitate educational innovation; and explains why education must be nimble and move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to cater for a wider array of students. 

Jan 21

25 min 51 sec

Chris Campbell is chief strategist at Duff & Phelps - a multinational financial consultancy firm based in New York City. Prior to this, he had a long esteemed career on Capitol Hill, and most recently served as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions. In this role, he oversaw policy and program areas such as government-sponsored enterprises, community development, and affordable housing policy. Chris is one of the few Presidential nominees in recent history to be unanimously appointed by both sides to such a significant role, and was named one of Congress’ most influential staffers seven years in a row. In this conversation, he shares how coming from humble beginnings, and at times being “episodically homeless”, education was important in shaping his perceptions of people and the future of the country; describes the many barriers of transforming education policy in D.C to create meaningful change, and shares his predictions and thoughts on what the administration can do to make college more affordable.


Jan 14

29 min 48 sec

Lindsay Hadley is the founder and chief executive of Hadley Impact Consulting. The firm works with nonprofits, corporations, artists and influencers to transform great ideas into social impact using technological innovation, social movements, and world-class events. Early in her career, she facilitated humanitarian projects in Kenya, Peru, Mexico, and Thailand - raising more than $35m for her clients and leveraging billions for important causes. She was executive producer of ‘The End of Polio Concert’ and the ‘Global Citizen Festival’, and also launched FilmRaise, an online platform that connects filmmakers, charities, and viewers for social change. In this conversation, Lindsay describes how despite encouragement to be a “stay-at-home mom’, she was driven to college by her love for soccer - receiving scholarships which led to her becoming a Division I athlete; argues there is great value in online education, and that the pandemic exposed universities that  needed to be more agile and entrepreneurial in embracing new technologies; and shares her concerns for the “looming financial crisis for US colleges”, especially HBCUs, and the need for colleges that understand students’ different cultures and experiences.

Jan 11

47 min 49 sec

Chuck Staben is the former president of the University of Idaho. Attending public universities, he earned his PhD at the University of California-Berkeley in biochemistry. He spent the next 19 years as a professor, department chair, associate vice president for research, and acting head of the Research Office at the University of Kentucky. Chuck later served as a Provost at the University of South Dakota for five years, before his most recent tenure as president of the University of Idaho. In this episode, Chuck describes some of the barriers preventing people from accessing higher education, including moving away from home and a lack of finance and planning for the future; argues non-revenue sports are a good investment for the state and that more dollars should be spent on athletics and attracting student athletes, and explains why “it’s graduating from college that makes the difference” to a student’s future and the economy.

Dec 2020

38 min 9 sec

Anthony Scaramucci is an entrepreneur and the founder of SkyBridge Capital. He is also the founder and chairman of Salt Conference, a global gathering that brings together leading investors, business leaders and thinkers to discuss big ideas in the world of finance, technology and public policy. He famously served as Donald Trump’s communications director for just 11 days, and is now a vocal critic of the President. Anthony is also the author of four books and host of the podcast, Mooch FM - where he explores the top news stories with the biggest names in media, business, politics and beyond. In this episode, he describes growing up in an “aspirational blue collar family” and how his perception of the American Dream has evolved; shares his experience and concerns for collective bias, but is optimistic that society will transform into a “platform of equal opportunity and outcomes”; and describes how discovering a passion, or “inner happiness” in your teen years is a “gift”, which should be taken with you into your working life.


Dec 2020

37 min 45 sec

Dr Elaine Maimon is president of Governors State University in Chicago. She’s also the author of a book recommending changes for higher education entitled ‘Leading Academic Change: Vision, Strategy, Transformation’. In this episode, Elaine explains her transformative work to turn the university into a place that celebrates innovation and experimentation. She describes why she rails against the principle that not everyone should go to college, and explores the effectiveness of the university’s ‘Family Development Centre’ which offers courses to parents of infants and preschoolers, to set them up for college in the future. Elaine has strong feelings on the need for reforming our approach to divisions between areas of education, like STEM versus the liberal arts, and says we need to address the challenges of financial restrictions. She says it will take real courage and leadership, but addressing societal issues within higher education in the US is crucial - that democracy is at risk, and there’s no time to wait.

Feb 2020

1 hr 1 min