Second Kent State alumnus hired at small colorectal cancer nonprofit organization

Sam Harper is the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s new vice president of data intelligence and technology.

Zoë Blank Reporter

A small organization of only 45 people in Washington, D.C., now employs two Kent State alumni.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance recently hired Kent State alumnus Sam Harper as the vice president of data intelligence and technology.

Steven Bushong, alumnus and senior manager of strategic communications at the Alliance, connected with Harper before writing the press release announcing him as the new hire. After meeting Bushong, Harper learned they both graduated from the same university.

“I start this new job, and the person who reaches out to me is Steve,” Harper said. “I looked him up on LinkedIn to find that he went to Kent State. And so this is our Golden Flash connection.”

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance, formerly the Colon Cancer Alliance, is the nation’s oldest and largest colorectal cancer advocacy nonprofit organization. It was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1999 by 41 patients, survivors and caregivers, according to the Alliance website.

The organization’s work focuses on three pillars: screen, care and cure. It works to empower a nation of allies who provide support for patients and their families, caregivers and survivors; to raise awareness of prevention and inspire efforts to fund critical research, according to the Alliance website.

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in both men and women worldwide, but when detected early, medical officials believe it is highly treatable. Young onset is on the rise, with 10 percent of new patients being under the age of 50, and screening is the No. 1 way to prevent colorectal cancer, according to the Alliance website.

Working with another Kent State graduate has been fun, Bushong said, and he’s excited to have Harper on board. It’s unlikely that two alumni would end up at such a small organization, he said.

“D.C. is just filled to the brim with communications professionals,” Bushong said. “But you don’t have a whole lot of midwest Ohio representation, so for us both to end up here is a lot of fun.”

During his time at Kent State, Bushong worked at the Daily Kent Stater as a reporter and editor. After graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in news journalism, he worked in publishing, communications and public relations before starting at the Alliance in the fall of 2017. 

Bushong feels the experiences he gained at the school of journalism prepared him for a diverse career.

“I’ve done a lot of different stuff, and I think my ability to do it all has a lot to do with the school,” Bushong said.

Before graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics, Harper was the executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate. He now serves on the Economics Advisory Board at Kent State.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Harper and Bushong want to encourage Kent State students to sign the Alliance’s pledge to get screened for colorectal cancer. 

“We are working to get 10,000 people to sign our pledge this month,” Bushong said. “After signing, you’ll get resources and encouragement to follow through with your screening.”

The Alliance is a great fit for Harper, he said, because it allows him to apply his data and technology skills for an important cause.

“I was looking for a way to take my skills and the things I knew about technology, but make a bigger impact,” Harper said. “The Colorectal Cancer Alliance allowed me to do professionally what I enjoy, but for a cause that I believe in.”

Zoë Blank covers alumni. Contact her at [email protected]