Students learn what it means to be a Kemper Scholar

Samantha Sigler

Junior Joe Gladow (middle left) spent his summer interning at the Chicago Mayor’s Office while junior Blake Densley (middle) spent his interning at the Chicago History Museum.Photo courtesy of Joe Gladow

While most students spent their summers relaxing, traveling and catching up with old friends, four Linfield students spent their time interning at the Chicago Mayor’s Office and the Chicago History Museum, learning more about what exactly it means to be a Kemper Scholar.
“[It] was kind of mind blowing, Chicago is huge,” sophomore Cody Purchase said. Purchase, along with sophomore Terran Sobel-Smith, were two of 20 students that won the Kemper Scholarship last school year.
The scholarship is only offered to freshmen and provides students with two summer internships with stipends between $2,000 and $6,000. The first internship is at a non-profit organization in Chicago after their sophomore years, and the second is at a for-profit business after their junior years that students secure themselves anywhere in the world.
It also gives between $3,000 and $10,000 in financial assistance for three years depending on student need and allows students to attend the annual Kemper Scholars Conference in Chicago for three years.
“It was a really good, exciting atmosphere,” Purchase said. “Everyone was laughing and having a good time.”
Purchase, a Japanese and chemistry major, and Sobel-Smith, a philosophy and biology major, spent the two days at the conference listening to speakers and touring Chicago with other Kemper Scholars.
“I think the best speaker was a businessman, [Josh Brody], from New York,” Sobel-Smith said. “[He] taught me to be a little more open and not too concerned where I’m going to end up.”
The president of the Kemper Foundation, Dr. Ryan LaHurd, also spoke during the convention of luck and it sometimes playing a part in people’s success.
“I’m excited to start exploring all the options,” Purchase said. “[I’m going to] keep an open mind and chase down opportunities I can get.”
While Purchase and Sobel-Smith grew more excited to pursue future goals, juniors Blake Densley and Joe
Gladow had the opportunity to experience their own.
Gladow, an international relations major, spent the summer working at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office in the Mayoral Fellows Program. Gladow was one of two undergraduate students participating along with 25 graduate students—some of whom attended schools, such as Harvard and Princeton.
“[It] was somewhat intimidating at first,” Gladow said. “[But] it was an awesome experience.”
In something similar to a think tank, Gladow worked with a few other interns on projects they received from senior officials.
They worked on projects dealing with education, attracting higher-educated teachers and lengthening schools days. Gladow also worked on researching small business development and promotion.
“I went in thinking I’d figure out more what I wanted to do, [but] it opened up all these options of everything else I could do,” Gladow said.
Densley, an exercise science major, spent his summer working in the Chicago History Museum alongside its president, Gary Johnson.
“Gary made sure to show me what it was like to be a leader of an organization,” Densley said. “That’s what I wanted to get out of the internship.”
Densley helped design a history of magic exhibit as well as researched and aided in holding a conference in which the museum announced its support of Chicago’s civic education movement.
Densley spent a majority of his time working alongside Johnson and learning what it was like to run a nonprofit organization.
“The ability for me to sit down in his office and ask him any question is essentially
what the [Kemper Scholar] program is all about,” Densley said.
Along with working at internships, Densley and Gladow had weekly Tuesday night meetings where all the Kemper Scholars met and discussed a wide variety of topics to explore different aspects of being involved in an organization.
“[It was a] very insightful part of the summer,” Densley said.
All four Kemper Scholar winners encourage others to apply to scholarships such as these as often as possible.
“[Applying to] scholarships are a risk, but there is no such thing as a negative risk,” Densley said. “I went into the scholarship thinking there is no way. And well, here I am.”
Other scholarships that are available to students through Linfield can be found at

Samantha Sigler
News editor
Samantha Sigler can be reached at [email protected].