With the selection of freshmen Alec Freytag and Lindsey Morgan, Knox now boasts seven Kemper Scholars. Most schools chosen to participate in the program only have four.
A highly competitive program that provides scholarships and internships to students interested in business and administration careers, the Kemper Scholars program chooses one freshman each year from 16 pre-selected “Kemper Scholars Institutions.” Occasionally, two students from one college are chosen in the same year-as has happened three times at Knox in the past four years.
“Because of the caliber of Knox students…Kemper has basically decided on their own…to come in and double up at Knox,” Professor of Business and Management John Spittell said. “Nobody gets shorted, but we’ve actually received an extra commitment.”
Between their sophomore and junior years, Kemper Scholars are placed at nonprofit organizations in Chicago. The following summer, they may intern anywhere in the world at for-profit companies. Each internship is accompanied by a $2,000 to $6,000 stipend. Annual conferences and shared readings allow the development of a tight cohort of energetic, passionate students, Spittell said.
“The primary purpose of it is to find students with great potential that are highly inquisitive, that exhibit leadership potential and that have not made up their minds [about] what they want to do,” he said. “So this is perfect [for] Knox.”
Morgan’s situation mirrored Spittell’s comments: although she is interested in education, she does not want to teach and therefore hopes to explore other avenues within the field.
“I don’t know what I want to do with it [education] or where I could expand on it,” she said. “I feel like actually getting out into the workforce through the internships…will give me a better idea of the opportunities out there and what I’m interested in.”
Besides Freytag and Morgan, Knox’s Kemper Scholars include seniors Hannah Basil and Anna Novikova, juniors Alyssa Gill and Max Potthoff and sophomore Molly Loudon. Both Basil and Novikova have already secured full-time professional positions. Potthoff’s summer internship will take him to China.
“I never even thought about having the opportunity to work in the for-profit sector,” Freytag said. “It’s the same thing with Knox. I never really thought I would be going to a liberal arts school, but after being exposed to it, I can’t see myself anywhere else. Kemper gives you the opportunity to do things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”
Meet this year’s scholars
Morgan, who plans on double majoring in educational studies and either psychology or French, labored for hours on her Kemper application over winter break. Freytag, a psychology major, only had two days to apply.
Because Kemper only allows applications from students with freshman standing, Freytag, who has sophomore standing due to AP credits, was initially told he would probably not be able to apply. One Monday, however, he learned that the Kemper Foundation was both allowing and encouraging him to submit an application. The first round of interviews ended that Wednesday.
Despite describing the process as “hectic,” Freytag found the interviews to be one of the more enjoyable parts of applying.
“It was a round robin….It took a lot of the pressure out,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re applying as who you actually are as opposed to a job candidate.”
“It made me really feel that I was just bringing myself to the table and I wasn’t trying to be a certain person that fit the program,” Morgan added.
Morgan learned about the Kemper Scholars through Loudon, as the two had gone to the same high school. Attracted by the program’s mission of putting together a group of students with diverse interests and skill sets, Morgan cried when she learned of her acceptance.
“It’s starting to kick in, but for a week-a good week-it just wasn’t even real to me,” she said. “I’m just going into it with an open mind and a lot of excitement.”
Already thinking about the future, Freytag is currently exploring social advocacy organizations in Chicago and considering what it will be like to interview applicants next year, as current Kemper Scholars are involved in the round robin.
“Knox has seven Kempers, and you’re really only supposed to have four, and I think that says a lot about Knox,” he said. “I’m definitely going to be pushing it next year with all of the freshmen.”