Vietnam, Austria, and Germany are only a few of the many countries that La Salle University sophomore Gregory Fat has visited, and he isn’t even 21. This summer, Fat will stay in the United States as a Kemper scholar, working for a nonprofit organization in Chicago.
A double major in Economics and International Studies and Political Science and a minor in Leadership and Global Understanding, Fat said, “I am genuinely interested in the operations of economy as it is an important topic that is often discussed.”
He took a year after graduating from Robbinsville High School in Robbinsville, NJ, to study in Germany, after receiving a Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State and the German Bundestag. He lived in Frankenwinheim, Germany, from September 2009 to July 2010.
During his freshman year at La Salle, Fat traveled to Vietnam for a travel-study class during his spring break in 2011. While there, he and other students visited many battlegrounds, explored Vietnamese cities, and tried Vietnamese food. His favorite part of this trip was to get a chance to experience Vietnamese culture, something that “cannot be experienced in a classroom,” says Fat.
Last summer, Fat spent several weeks in Vienna, after receiving the Dean’s Faculty Student Research Grant with Professor Vincent Kling, Foreign Language professor at La Salle University. In Vienna, Fat and Kling studied the literature, culture, and history of the Leopoldstadt district of Vienna.
“I was interested in the ‘cultural’ aspect of research in Vienna because it presented me with new academic challenges and new opportunities to learn something different than I am used to,” says Fat, who has a self-assured manner along with a dry sense of humor.
After his stay in Vienna, Fat spent the rest of his summer, in Washington, D.C. to work at the Embassy of Greece. “I was very fortunate to have the help of the Provost’s Diplomat-in- Residence Program (DRP), and of the director of the DRP program, Cornelia Tsakiridou, to find this position,” said Fat. He worked under the Minister Counselor of Public Affairs, where he created a business plan to start a nonprofit organization called the Pillars of Greek Culture, which seeks to promote Greek culture in the Washington, D.C. area.
The Kemper scholarship is awarded to a student committed to a liberal arts education and open to exploring careers in organizational leadership and management in business or in the nonprofit sector. Kemper scholars receive a scholarship and intern with major nonprofit organizations in Chicago during their sophomore year. As a junior, the scholars intern at a for-profit organization near their college.
“The selection process was done very far in advance for the Kemper Scholarship because the Kemper Foundation truly gets to know you before they place you in an internship. We have multiple interviews, and we had a conference in Chicago this summer to meet the other students awarded with the scholarship from all over the country,” said Fat. He is currently awaiting news from the Kemper Foundation in Chicago to see what non-profit organization best fits him.
La Salle University is one of 16 colleges in the United States invited by the Kemper Foundation to submit candidates for internships. From La Salle, the top six candidates are chosen by past Kemper Scholars, and are brought in for an interview with the former scholars and Finance Professor Kathleen McNichol. From these six, three are chosen to have an interview with the president of the Kemper Foundation, who selects the scholars.
Fat has future plans to travel to Turkey for a travel-study course in the spring semester of 2012.
Not only does Fat travel often, but he is also active on campus. He is a student manager of the University’s Phonathon, a fund-raising program, a student manager of Late Night La Salle, a lifeguard at the Hayman Center’s swimming pool, and a member of the school’s water polo team.
“My goal is to get a map of the world and color in all the places I’ve visited,” says Fat, “I hope to have more colored in countries than uncolored one day.”
– Katherine Blessing