An Early Start on Leadership Experience

A rising sophomore planning to major in applied economics and international relations has the opportunity to work with business professionals and enhance her leadership experience.

Mary Atta-Dakwa of Ellicott City, Md., was selected from a group of finalists as a Kemper Scholar. The Kemper Scholars program prepares students for professional leadership positions through experiential workplace learning that applies what they learn in their academic programs. The Kemper Foundation bases the program on the belief that the liberal arts represents the best preparation for life and career. It promotes the liberal arts while providing for students opportunities for practical experience and career exploration.

Atta-Dakwa has been an involved student during her first year at Ursinus. Among her activities are serving as a Teaching and Learning Institute student consultant, a student assistant in the college’s Advancement Office, a tutor at the Center for Academic Support, a singer with the Voices in Praise gospel choir, and co-captain of the Mock Trial association.

Her Mock Trial experience, she says, has been particularly meaningful. “The humbling experience came from the way that every student was so immersed in understanding the case,” she said. “The way that a group of students with different backgrounds are able to come together to try to make thing work together is a riveting experience for me.

“I believe that is one thing that colleges try to accomplish, making it possible for people of different backgrounds to be able to set aside differences to work toward a common goal.”

As a Kemper scholar, she would like to connect law and business.

The Kemper Scholars are selected based on their academic commitment, service in their communities, and ethical character. They  receive annual scholarships 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 non-profit organizations in Chicago during the summer following their sophomore year. They are placed in full-time positions where they can learn about 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 seminar. They also attend a national conference to discuss summer projects, meet with former Kemper Scholars, and have frequent contact with Kemper Foundation staff to discuss academic and professional goals. The program has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago, Ill. since 1948.

The Ursinus campus Kemper coordinators are Carla Rinde, director of the office of Career and Professional Development, and Cindy Harris, Professor of Business and Economics.