by Stephen Danilovich ‘14
Since receiving a Kemper Scholarship last year, Knox College sophomore Alyssa Gill has been excited about the many opportunities coming up on the horizon.
The highly regarded Kemper Scholars Program prepares students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of administration and business, by providing scholarships, opportunities for career exploration, and practical experience. Kemper Scholars also complete summer internships with non-profit and for-profit organizations.
During the summer of 2012, Gill will work as a marketing intern with the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
"I'm very excited for this opportunity and love that I was able to get a position at a company that puts a specific emphasis on new playwrights," said Gill, a native of Berkeley, California. "Since taking a playwriting class (at Knox) in the winter, I've started to explore that more and am taking a liking to it, so I'm happy that I get this chance.
Gill is passionate about the stage. She plans to study toward a major in theatre and a minor in business and management at Knox.
After assisting as video technician in a local production of And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, Gill was offered a summer internship last year with Prairie Players, Galesburg's community theatre. She helped manage the theatre's databases.
She also attended her first Kemper Scholars conference, an annual event that introduces the newest scholars to their older counterparts from colleges across the country.
"You have all these amazing people in one room," Gill said. "It was great to hear about the experiences of older Kemper Scholars, and it also made me really excited for the internship I'm going to be doing this summer."
Community service also is important to Gill, who is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and the Knox Improv Club (Photo at right: Gill in an improv performance.)
As a first-year Knox student, she co-founded S.P.I.C.E. (Success, Performance, Inspiration, Community, and Education), a mentoring club that aims to create a stronger bond between Knox College students and members of the local community. (Photo at top of page: Gill at the 2011 S.P.I.C.E. fashion show.)
S.P.I.C.E. mentors team up with teenagers in the Galesburg Boys & Girls Club, and they work together on visualizing the future and taking steps toward achieving long-term goals.
She participates in other forms of community service, such as the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge at Lake Storey in Galesburg. The 2012 event raised more than $35,000 to benefit Special Olympics of Western Illinois, and Gill has set a personal goal of raising at least $2,000 through Polar Plunge during her four years at Knox.
"Being from California, I had never gotten the experience of jumping into freezing cold water in the middle of winter," she said. "I think it's a great way to raise money."
While Gill is exploring her options and looking ahead, she appreciates the freedom and self-determination that come with a liberal arts education.
"I began to really like the idea of liberal arts because of Knox -- the whole emphasis on not strapping yourself to one single path," she said.
Gill describes her decision to study at Knox as a "pure gut feeling."
"It was always Knox, in a way," she said. "But when I break it down, it's just that the people here are so passionate about what they do."
(Photo above left: Gill, at far right, with other Knox College Kemper Scholars; Knox faculty member John Spittell, Professor of Business and Management and Executive-in-Residence, second from right; and Ryan LaHurd, president and executive director of the James S. Kemper Foundation, center.)