Wilkerson

In the future, Wilkerson said he hopes to have more notable guests on his show to grow his podcast.

It’s 2016. Alumnus Philip Wilkerson III (’08) is sitting in his car and starts speaking to a camera for his YouTube channel. 

His series, “Random Ramblings of Philip Wilkerson,” consisted of short videos of him discussing random topics every Monday. Once he heard about the popularity of podcasts, he learned the ropes and decided to start his own. In April 2017, the podcast “Positive Philter” was born.

“I’m a big people person,” Wilkerson said. “It’s allowed me to meet people and really connect with people, and that’s what makes me very happy.”

What began as Wilkerson interviewing his inner circle of friends and family turned into an opportunity to connect with a larger community. Guests on the three-year-old podcast range from small business owners to fellow Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers, JMU alumni and other podcasters. Wilkerson said he recently brought on Howard Gelfand, associate professor of interdisciplinary liberal studies, as a guest on Positive Philter because they’ve kept in touch since Gelfand taught him a history course his freshman year.

“I was honored to have participated in his superb podcast ‘Positive Philter,’ which is one of the numerous ways in which he seeks to bring thoughtful and uplifting connections between people,” Gelfand said in an email.

Wilkerson transferred from Bowie State in Maryland to JMU in 2005, where he began as a business major but switched to  history because he said he wanted to be in classes with fewer people. He said he went to JMU partly because his high school sweetheart, now Maggie Wilkerson (’07), was going there. After he graduated in 2008 he said he didn’t know what to do with his history degree, but after getting a job in a school he realized he enjoyed education. He then went to George Mason University to get his Master’s in Education with a concentration in counseling.

Since graduating from GMU, Wilkerson has been in higher education positions at Northern Virginia Community College, George Washington University and Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Now, he’s a manager of industry advising and employer development at GMU’s Career Services. It was while Wilkerson worked for VCU that he began his podcast, which has reached nearly 200 episodes. In the podcast, Wilkerson talks about anything and frames the discussion as a learning opportunity for his listeners.

“I just make sure that the tone of voice and the overall message is positive — that’s just the consistent theme throughout the whole podcast,” Philip said. 

Every guest on Positive Philter has taught him something, Philip said, which has allowed him to grow as a person. Maggie said she’s proud of her husband because of his hard work and the effort he’s put into balancing the podcast and a full time job while still being an “active” and “present” dad.

“Podcasting has opened me up to a new community of people,” Philip said. “I like to say that this will serve as a time capsule for my kids.”

In the future, Philip said he plans to continue to grow Positive Philter and try to bring more notable guests on the podcast. He said Positive Philter is the most consistent project in his life, and he’s proud of himself for sticking with it. Career-wise, he said he wants to be more of an impactful leader on campus and continue to support Black students as an advisor for both the NAACP chapter and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at GMU.

“I think he’s really driven and focused on these goals that he’s setting for himself,” Maggie said. “He’s really established a name for himself at George Mason and has a big presence there. I’m really excited for his future plans.”

Contact Kamryn Koch at kochkr@dukes.jmu.edu.