April 8, 2024

Alum career connections: Alex Topalovic ’19 and Overpower Gore ’23

Alexandra Hagerty ’07(right) and Chief MateEmily Bull wave to the crowd after dockingthe MercyShips vesselin Africa.

Alex Topalovic ’19 and Overpower Gore ’23 grew up on different continents. Topalovic is from Serbia. Gore is from Zimbabwe. Though their paths never crossed at Earlham, they were both drawn to enFocus, a talent incubator and innovation hub in South Bend, Indiana. The company specializes in recruiting recent graduates to create innovations and solve problems within a diverse array of regional businesses, such as health care and engineering. Topalovic works as a strategic operations coordinator, and Gore is an innovation fellow. 

The two first met during Gore’s virtual interview with the company, and Topalovic was on the interview panel. Gore was sitting in a part of Earlham that Topalovic recognized on the screen. 

“I sat there, I had my suit on, and you know, I was nervous, because this is my first job, and Alex goes, are you in ‘The U?’ I remember being just so confused because I’m scared of this meeting, and somehow this random guy knew exactly where I was,” Gore said. 

With that small connection, Gore became more relaxed during the interview and was eventually hired for the job. When Gore reached out to thank Topalovic in person, the moment became the start of a friendship that has continued to grow over the last year.

Having Topalovic as a friend, Gore said, has been a huge help, as he’s navigated his first job in a new part of the country. “Having somebody international and somebody from Earlham, somebody who understands where I’m coming from, it was kind of almost a customized help, because he understands everything,” said Gore.

Topalovic also noted that sharing not only the same school, but also the same field — they both graduated with degrees in global management — meant that they could easily communicate with each other as they collaborated on projects. “I could say, this is the thing that we learned here, and this is how I use it in the actual workplace,” he said. 

In many ways, they see their friendship as a natural extension of their time at Earlham. Both Gore and Topalovic emphasized the success they’ve experienced is, in part, because of the many people at Earlham who have helped and supported them on their journey, on and off campus. 

“I think having somebody who can help you, especially as international students, having somebody to help navigate independently of having a professor, has helped me tremendously in my life.” Topalovic said. ■

Story by Autumn Young. Photo by Tsitsi Makufa.

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