“I’m ecstatic,” says Birch, an environmental studies major with a biology minor. “It is such a great opportunity to grow and connect with students from all over the country.”
The mission of the Kemper Scholars Program, which has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago since 1948, is to prepare students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of organizational administration and business. Kemper Scholars receive annual scholarships up to $10,000 based on need during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of college.
Birch’s advisor, Chair of the Modern Languages Department at Ursinus, Xochitl Shuru, nominated Birch for this program. She couldn’t have imagined a better candidate.
“Zach understands the value of a multicultural and multilingual liberal arts education,” said Dr. Shuru. “He is culturally sensitive and always eager to learn how other cultures and countries interact with Spanish speaking countries. He is intrinsically motivated and will excel in any future career he chooses. Zach genuinely understands the interconnectedness of classes at Ursinus and the importance global citizenry.”
Kemper Scholars 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 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 city.
“I’ll be excited for any nonprofit I am assigned to work,” says Birch. “But I really hope to work with a conservation group in some capacity, especially with animals. One of the places that would be great to get placed is Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.” An outdoor enthusiast, Birch enjoys hunting and fishing. He plays defensive end on the Ursinus football team and plays intramural basketball and badminton.
Birch’s first Kemper event is a two-day conference during the first weekend of August. He’ll get to hear about the experiences of more experienced Kemper scholars as well as get a sense of Chicago.
“I’ve never been there, but can’t wait to explore this city. I really can’t wait to see Wrigley Field as well as the Chicago Bears’ stadium,” says Birch.
The Kemper 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. Scholars are selected for their commitment to their studies and service to communities, and because they have exhibited leadership and well-rounded, ethical character.