Valparaiso University freshman Michael Mead has been selected from a group of finalists for the incoming class of the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program.

Mead, an English and theater major at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., is the son of John and Nancy Mead of Geneva, Ill. Mead is enrolled in Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University, and sings with several campus musical ensembles and recently played the title role in the musical “Floyd Collins” at the Valparaiso University Theatre.

The Kemper Scholar Program has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago since 1948, with the mission of preparing students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of organizational administration and business. 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 are able to apply their intellectual and critical skills in a professional work environment.

“Kemper Scholars represent academically superior, community spirited, committed, and well-rounded undergraduates from a group of 15 excellent liberal arts colleges around the country,” said Ryan LaHurd, President and Executive Director of the James S. Kemper Foundation. “Throughout the over six decades of the program, scholars have gone on to make outstanding contributions as leaders in organizations around the country.”

Kemper Scholars receive annual scholarships ofup to $10,000 based on need during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of college. Kemper Scholars also receive stipends to cover the costs of their work as interns in major nonprofit organizations in Chicago during the summer following their sophomore year. Scholars are placed in full-time administrative positions where they can learn about such areas as financial management, organizational strategy, fund-raising, and nonprofit administration. During the Chicago summer, scholars live in the same apartment residence hall and participate in a weekly 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 cover the costs of a learning opportunity in an internship in a for-profit corporation.

Each year all Kemper Scholars attend a national conference to discuss their 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, and 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 this era of rapid change, complex problem-solving, and globalization, we at the James S. Kemper Foundation are proud of our role in helping shape the next generation of leaders whose broad background and experiential learning opportunities as part of the Kemper Scholars Program will make them eminently qualified for the myriad opportunities the future will offer,” said LaHurd.

“Michael Mead is a truly superb selection as Valparaiso’s 2011 Kemper Scholar,” said Christ College Dean Mel Piehl. “He has already made a considerable impression on our campus through his intellectual ability, his remarkable musical and theatrical gifts, and his religious and social service commitments. Michael exemplifies the Kemper Foundation’s belief that lives of leadership and character are best grounded in a strong liberal arts education.”