The Kirby Scholar Program
The Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship fosters a unique program for undergraduate and graduate students at Wilkes University. The Kirby scholar program provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience in their chosen discipline while getting access to professionals in the community to guide them in their future endeavors.
BECOMING A SCHOLAR
The program consists of top-performing students, typically in their junior or senior year from various departments on campus including accounting, business, communications, digital design and media art, engineering, marketing, and science.
These students undergo a rigorous selection process conducted by a review committee of field-specific faculty and the Kirby Center staff. The student has to be approved by the dean of their perspective departments in addition to accepting the position in order to officially deem them as a scholar in that discipline.
After a student becomes a scholar, they must undergo an orientation process to become acclimated with the culture at the center, familiarized with their responsibilities and get acquainted with the staff and scholars at the center.
The scholar program also includes internships. Prospective interns can apply at any level of their academic career. Interns are then tasked to learn the ropes and assist scholars and staff with the projects they are working on. With this experience, a Kirby intern can move into a scholar position in the future if they so desire and if the staff sees fit.
GAINING THE EXPERIENCE
The scholars are then able to start their projects right after orientation whether they are working in the summer, fall, spring or year-round. Due to the variety of disciplines, scholars engage in a vast array of activities which include, but are not limited, to working with clients, doing projects internally for the center, doing research, attending conferences, and meeting professional development requirements.
Scholars are typically at the center from 10 to 20 hours per week. These hours are integrated into their academic course schedule according to when it is convenient for the scholar. The director, Dr. Rodney Ridley, is very adamant about academics being the scholars’ first priority. Not only is maintaining a good academic standing an important value to the scholar program, but it is also important that the center projects do not interfere with or hinder that standing.
During the allotted time, the scholars can complete the aforementioned and even collaborate with the staff and other scholars on their projects as well. This provides the opportunity for scholars to develop an understanding for what the job environment might be like after they graduate in addition to all of the other skills they can develop.
THE PATH AFTER COLLEGE
The scholars are expected to use their skills at the center and the staff is expected to connect scholars with mentors in the professional community. Mentors typically have jobs in the field that are similar to the jobs that scholars want to apply for.
The goal of this professional relationship is to educate the scholars about the transition from college to the workplace as well as about the experience they may need to guide them on their desired path.
Over the years, the center has developed a mentor network via our partners, clients and other professionals in the community. All prospective mentors must fill out an application in order to gain the title.
Look for our scholar and mentor spotlight posts our social media accounts.