Debi Zoumis, Campus Cafe cashier, has a passion for helping out her community. She graduated from Indiana University’s school of business as an economics and finance major and later went on to get her Masters from Purdue honoring in Paralegal studies because of her work for the Department of Education.
While working at Valpo, an opportunity to help out the community was presented to Zoumis, which was how she got involved at the radio station WVLP 103.1
“Maybe about five years ago, Special Olympics was happening here at the rink. And I think this is how I got started in the radio station. I lived downtown… and I would take my walks, I’d be like what’s going on… and it was the Special Olympics. I happened to know the band... and so Gregg Kovach [one of the radio station workers], said ‘hey would you like to hang out with us at the radio station?’ I said sure, no problem. Then I got recruited for the radio. And I said, let’s do something. So we have community matters… we have a great community that we live in, we really do,” Zoumis said.
The radio station features people from around the town of Valparaiso, and discusses issues that matter to the community, trying to foster the community feel, following Zoumis’ passion.
“I happened to know a couple of the kids that were in Special Olympics... So [the radio] started with the Special Olympics, then it was Toys for Tots, then it was Five Hundred Turkeys, then it was Hilltop Community House… We just try and get our hands into whatever we can get to try and make everyone feel as home, and then know that they’re not alone,” Zoumis said.
But this is not Zoumis’ first experience with radio. Zoumis always had always had a love for the music industry, and had gotten an internship while in college to explore her options.
“I’m retired from the Department of Education, I graduated from Indiana University School of Business, and I wanted to get into music promotions, and so I interned with the radio station WXRT 93.1,” Zoumis said. “I was the only IU person, because everybody else was from Columbia College… they were all like, ‘you’re from where?’ And I said, well I’m from Indiana, if you look really close, it’s right there.”
She emphasized the importance of internships as a learning experience, especially for college students.
“The months went on, and I learned… If there's one thing a college student needs to do, they need to do an internship, because you learn from the people that are doing the jobs that you want to do, and it’s reality,” Zoumis said. “It’s not sitting in a classroom, taking notes… As an intern you go through everything they tell you to do, you do everything… You learn from the best, get your foot in there, don’t be afraid, learn from the best. They’re going to teach you a lot.”
After graduating from college, Zoumis went on to working in education using her Business degree.
“I had an opportunity--I went on to education, and I worked for the American Academy of Art... I was their director of financial aid, because my degree was economics and finance, so I knew how to balance budgets, and I settled student accounts, and I settled funds for the Department of Education, and state funding, institutional funding, and federal funding,” Zoumis said.
Zoumis talked about her love for the town of Valpo, having lived here for so long and how she continued on with her love of music while still working in education.
“I never left Valparaiso though, I always commuted [to work], I love to commute. I opened up my own record store downtown Lincolnway for a short time, maybe ten years or so, while I still worked. Then I decided I need to take a break,” Zoumis said.
Another opportunity opened up for Zoumis in a different place, in Hospitality.
“I went to work for the Holiday Inn, and I was their main person, and I was awarded the ROSE award (Recognition of Service Excellence)… only twelve people in the entire county get awarded this award. I was awarded that by the White County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and then the next year I got it from Porter County in tourism and convention. I was hospitality professional of the year,” Zoumis said.
At that point, Zoumis wanted to try something totally new, and have a bit of fun with her life.
“I finally said, you know what, I just want to have fun. I’m at my time in my life where I can afford to have fun. So people may say ‘you’re what? You’re a cashier at the cafe- what is that?’ And I go, I don’t know, I come in, I do my job, I see a lot of things wrong- but that’s a curse, I have those audit eyes- and I really enjoy the students. I love seeing them grow, I miss them when they graduate,” Zoumis said. “I’m kinda like the home away from home for so many… We have this phrase, it’s called you make a difference, one student at a time. And right now I feel like, when those kids come to me, they’re not kids, you guys are adults, but you’re still kids to me, that’s what I say. ‘You wanna talk? Yeah, let’s have a chat, let me get your coat, let’s sit down.’”