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Sophomore Bryan Coleman at work at the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way.

Posted June 6, 2008

Related coverage: The Washington Post

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Fifteen Bucknell University students who are high-achievers from low- and middle-income or urban backgrounds are getting real-world experience through a month-long summer internship program at businesses throughout Central Pennsylvania.

The Bucknell Kemper Internship Program, funded by a $50,000 grant from the Chicago-based James S. Kemper Foundation, partners liberal arts students and their professional interests with local employers, said Alison Ordonez, manager of internships in the University's Career Development Center and coordinator of the Bucknell program that runs June 2-27.

The Bucknell student interns include eight Jack Kent Cooke Foundation community college scholars and seven Posse Scholars who have been matched with local businesses and nonprofit and government agencies. They range from the American Red Cross and Evangelical Community Hospital to Sunbury Broadcasting Corp. and Coldwell Banker, the real estate company.

Introduction to business world
"The purpose of the grant is to give liberal arts students an introduction to the business world," said Ordonez. The grant, the first for Bucknell from the Kemper Foundation, also helps prepares students for networking with local professionals.

At their respective internships, "these students obtain a sense of the working world and feel that they are making a worthwhile contribution and are serving a very real purpose," Ordonez said.

Ryan LaHurd, president and executive director of the Kemper Foundation, said the grant provides undergraduates with an "experiential education" and helps them to appreciate that a liberal arts education gives them the necessary problem-solving, people and professional skills to excel in a business environment.

Supporting students
The $50,000 grant, the largest amount the foundation awards, is unique, said LaHurd. Bucknell is the only recipient this year focusing on "an underserved population" and supporting students who otherwise could not afford to work in unpaid positions, he said.

Keri Albright, chief executive officer and president of the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way in Sunbury, Pa., has Bucknell sophomore Bryan Coleman from Oxen Hill, Md., working as an intern in her office through the month of June. Coleman is a Posse Scholar.

"He's just on fire," said Albright, who is overseeing his work assignment to produce the nonprofit agency's annual report. "After just two full days, I'm extremely favorable. He's really on target and I like what he's doing."

Meeting leaders
Part of Coleman's summer work experience, said Albright, will be meeting leaders and business members in the Susquehanna Valley community.

So far, that's included meeting the head of a local school district and the publisher of the region's largest newspaper and attending business socials. He also will help to moderate a conversation that Sunbury Broadcasting is hosting for regional high school valedictorians that will involve his own experiences as a high school valedictorian and a first-year student at Bucknell.

"I'm using different skills -- writing, communications, design," said Coleman, whose major is currently undeclared. "I'm very interested in the communications industry and that's why I'm enjoying this experience so much. I have a month to produce an annual report. My hands are full."

Real-life experiences
He said he's talked to other interns and compared what they are doing with what he is doing and that he's especially pleased with the real-life experiences he's getting at the United Way.

"This has been the best experience," Coleman said.

With the Kemper Foundation grant, Coleman and the other 14 students receive summer housing, meals and a total scholarship of $2,500. In addition, Bucknell provides transportation between campus and the summer work sites in the SusquehannaValley and a pre-internship orientation and post-internship reflection piece.

Posse Scholars from Boston and Washington, D.C., are recruited by the Posse Foundation, a national college access and leadership program that identifies, recruits and trains outstanding young leaders from public schools in urban areas.

Partner schools
Jack Kent Cooke scholars are recent recipients of associate degrees from community colleges and are among the top graduates of Bucknell’s partner schools: Community College of Philadelphia, Garrett College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College and Montgomery County Community College. This summer, 30 of the scholars from the community colleges will take courses at Bucknell to help them prepare to transfer to the University.

The Kemper Foundation has had as its mission for 60 years to promote its philosophy that a college-level education in the liberal arts represents the ideal preparation for life and work, especially for careers in administration, business and organizational leadership.  

Other recipients of Kemper Foundation grants in 2008 include The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Field Museum of Chicago, Kalamazoo College and Lake Forest College.

Contact: Division of Communications


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