Two Knox Students Selected as 2011 Kemper Scholars

Program aims to develop future leaders in business and other fields

May 26, 2011

For the second consecutive year, two Knox College students have been chosen for the highly regarded Kemper Scholars Program, which prepares students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of administration and business. The program provides scholarships, opportunities for career exploration, and practical experience.

Alyssa Gill and Max Potthoff, both first-year students at Knox, will receive scholarships of up to $10,000 for each of the next three years. They also will attend the annual Kemper Scholars Conference for three years and complete summer internships with non-profit and for-profit organizations.

"The students selected as Kemper Scholars receive outstanding preparation for careers in business and management, because their undergraduate study of the liberal arts is augmented by real-world experience in both non-profit and for-profit organizations and further supported through an excellent mentoring program," according to John Spittell, Professor of Business & Management and Executive-in-Residence -- and advisor to the Kemper Scholars Program at Knox.Max Potthoff

"It's a real honor to be chosen," said Potthoff, who plans to major in environmental studies. "In terms of what Kemper means to me, I'm incredibly excited to be able to be exposed to both non-profit and for-profit management because both are fields of interest for me."

Gill said the Kemper Scholars program will help her explore potential careers "and find out what it is that I'm truly passionate about and something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life."

A native of Western Springs, Illinois, Potthoff runs on the Knox cross country team and recently was elected as the Student Senate's Sustainability Chair.

This summer, and through a grant from the Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Trusts, he plans to travel to Xi'an, China, where he will work as an intern at the Foreign Language Education Center, teaching English to children and assisting with summer programming. His experience will contribute to an independent study of how young, bilingual Chinese students are being educated about their country's environmental challenges.

Gill, from Berkeley, California, is a member of the Knox Improv Club, Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She also co-founded a new student group called Success Performance Inspiration Community and Education (S.P.I.C.E.), in which Knox students serve as mentors to children in the Galesburg Boys & Girls Club.Alyssa Gill

This summer, she will complete an internship with Prairie Players Civic Theatre in Galesburg, assisting with the group's fund drive and working in its office. "The goal is to explore what it means to be a theatre manager because that combines my major interest, theatre, and my minor interest, business and management," Gill said.

Gill and Potthoff first heard about the Kemper Scholars program from other Kemper Scholars at Knox: Andrea Houlihan '11, Krista Nordgren '12, Hannah Basil '13, and Anna Novikova '13. They received further details during Fall Institute, an annual daylong series of workshops where Knox students learn about opportunities to enhance their academic experiences and prepare for post-graduate careers and studies.

Through the Kemper Scholars program, Gill and Potthoff will be placed in internships with Chicago non-profit organizations during the summer after their sophomore year. The internships are full-time positions where Kemper Scholars learn about financial management, organizational strategy, fund-raising, and non-profit administration. After their junior year, they will consult with program officials while pursuing and securing an internship with a for-profit business anywhere in the world.

Kemper Scholars periodically read and discuss major works on leadership, service, ethics, and business, and they have frequent contact with Kemper Foundation staff to discuss academic and professional goals, internships and learning opportunities.

Only students at designated Kemper Scholars institutions -- including Knox College -- may be nominated for the Kemper Scholars Program. The program is sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago.

Typically, each designated institution has a maximum of one Kemper Scholar per year. But Knox had two Kemper Scholars in 2010 (Basil and Novikova) and again this year (Gill and Potthoff).

"We're absolutely thrilled the Kemper Scholars Program and the James S. Kemper Foundation have recognized the talents of Knox students," Spittell said. "Knox students in this program have flourished, making the most of the program's opportunities for career exploration and practical experience."

The James S. Kemper Foundation's fundamental philosophy is that a college-level education in the liberal arts complemented by workplace experiential education represents the ideal preparation for life and work, especially for careers in administration and business.

The Foundation hopes to foster future leaders who pursue a vigorous, broad undergraduate education while participating in community service, engaging in campus activities, and exploring their vocational calling outside the classroom.

"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 Dr. Ryan LaHurd, President and Executive Director of the James S. Kemper Foundation.

The Kemper Foundation was created in 1942 with an endowment from Kemper Insurance Companies and its founder, James S. Kemper, and members of his family. The Kemper Scholars Program was founded in 1948.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 45 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.