May 7, 2014
Valparaiso University freshman Victoria Bruick and Eric Smith have been selected from a group of finalists for the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program. The program has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago, Illinois, since 1948.
Victoria Bruick, a first year English and music performance major, is the daughter of George and Elizabeth Bruick and resides in Bakersfield, California. Bruick is a member of the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra and as a member of Social Action Leadership Team was a co-leader of the World Relief Campaign that that helped raise money to provide work, child care, and educational support to Kenyans specifically those in a Kibera slum. She is also a Valpo Experience blogger.
Eric Smith, a first year international relations and international economics and cultural affairs major, is the son of David and Julia Smith and resides in Dearborn, Michigan. Smith is a violinist in the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra and as a member of the Valparaiso Mock Trial Team that prepares a prosecution and defense of a criminal case.
The Kemper Scholars Program’s mission is preparing students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of organizational administration and business. The Foundation believes that undergraduate study of the liberal arts represents the best preparation for life and career. The program aims to promote education in the liberal arts while providing students opportunities for career exploration and practical experience. The Foundation’s experience shows that students learn the value of their liberal arts education for leadership by seeing how they use what they have learned when they work in a professional environment.
“Kemper Scholars represent the best undergraduates from a group of sixteen exemplary liberal arts colleges around the country,” explains Dr. Ryan LaHurd, President and Executive Director of the James S. Kemper Foundation. “They are selected because they are committed to their studies and service in their communities and because they have exhibited leadership and well-rounded, ethical character. Throughout the over six decades of the program, scholars have gone on to make outstanding contributions as leaders in organizations around the country.”
Recent research sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace reports that employers’ primary criterion in hiring is whether graduates have had real world experience in internships and work while in college. “The Kemper Scholars Program equips students with that kind of experience as a complement to their academic work,” says LaHurd.
Kemper Scholars receive annual scholarships up to $10,000 based on need during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of college. Kemper Scholars also receive stipends to support their work as interns in major non-profit organizations in Chicago during the summer following their sophomore year. Scholars are placed in full-time administrative positions where they can learn about such things as financial management, organizational strategy, fund-raising, and non-profit administration. During the Chicago summer, scholars live in the same apartment residence hall and participate in a weekly Kemper seminar while exploring the cultural, historical, and entertainment aspects of the city.
During the summer following their junior year, scholars are eligible for summer stipends to support an internship in a for-profit corporation anywhere in the country.
Each year all Kemper Scholars attend a national conference to discuss summer projects, meet with former Kemper Scholars, and consider topics in administration, leadership and business. They periodically read and discuss major works on leadership, service, ethics, or business; and they have frequent contact with Kemper Foundation staff to discuss the scholars’ academic and professional goals, as well as their hopes for future careers and learning opportunities.
“In our time of rapid change and globalization and the need for complex problem-solving and innovation skills, we at the James S. Kemper Foundation are proud of our role in helping shape the next generation of leaders. Kemper Scholars’ broad background and experiential learning opportunities as part of the Program will make them eminently qualified for the myriad opportunities the future will offer,” said Dr. LaHurd.