Graduating Scholar Spotlights
Sponsor: UMKC Trustees
Taylor Hamilton | After graduation, I will be traveling throughout the summer. I will begin my career in September as a NICU Nurse at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. I would like to thank all of the Trustees for allowing me to be a Trustees’ Scholar. Through this program, I feel like I have grown as an individual and a professional, as well as it has given me a sense of belonging being surrounded by like-minded individuals. Being a Trustees’ Scholar has been life-changing to me and is and will forever be a big part of my success.
Izzy Daab | Following graduation, I will be attending a 12-month accelerated nursing program at the Barnes and Jewish School of Nursing in St. Louis. My goal is to become a nurse anesthetist, so I will be working in the ICU to gain experience for 1-2 years and then returning to school to earn my Doctorate in Anesthesia. Although I am very sad to be leaving Kansas City, I am excited to be close to my family and hope to return to Kansas City in the future. Thank you so much to the Board of Trustees. Your involvement in my college experience as mentors was truly pivotal in many decisions about which career path to pursue. I want to say a special thank you to Kyle Vena, my mentor, for always being someone I can seek honest advice from and for teaching me to embrace the chaos of life for what it is. Lastly, I want to thank my parents for their unconditional support and love. I wouldn’t be able to navigate this life without them!
Lanisha Stevens | After graduation, I will be attending UMKC for the Master’s in Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs. I also plan on applying for the graduate assistant position at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. I would like to thank the Trustees for allowing me to gain opportunities to further my professional career and allowing me to see my worth when receiving this scholarship. I would also like to thank my family and friends for continuing to be my support system through every step of the way. Without you all, I would not be the Nisha that I am today.
Tia Kahwaji | After graduating, I am attending UMKC’s School of Dentistry to work towards my goal of becoming a dentist. I am grateful for all the support and guidance I have received from the Trustees’ Scholar Program throughout the past four years. During my time as a scholar at UMKC, I have had amazing experiences and have grown as a leader within my campus and in my community. I am beyond thankful for the Trustees and their mentorship. They have selflessly dedicated their time to be with the scholars at various enrichment sessions and luncheons, and I appreciate the opportunity I have had to learn from them. I am also very thankful for my mentor, Ms. Donna Ward, who has been there for me throughout every step of my journey to dental school. Ms. Ward has not only been supportive, but she has offered up a lot of her time to meet with me, offer guidance, and encourage me. I am blessed to have been a part of the Trustees’ Scholar Program.
Trustees’ Scholars Form “Women in Business Club”
Sponsor: UMKC Trustees
Third-year Trustees’ Scholars Grace Yu and Aubrey Brown chartered and led a new organization on campus to support women in business. Within the first week, over 120 students signed up to be members on RooGroups (UMKC’s student organization platform). Yu and Brown, along with co-president Maggie Schoemehl, wanted to form an organization to support female-identified students as they start their careers. Schoemehl and Yu were first inspired to form the club after recognizing there wasn’t already a group on campus. “We wanted to provide a space to inspire and empower our female students,” Yu said. “The goal is to be better equipped to work around obstacles in the business world and achieve success in our future endeavors.”
Women in Business currently has over 200 members and has hosted three events this semester: a kick-off event for interested students to get to know the club and each other; a Q&A panel for students to ask current women in business about their careers; and a salary negotiation workshop. To answer student questions, Trustees Leigh Anne Taylor Knight (The DeBruce Foundation) and Michelle Wimes (Children’s Mercy Hospital) were joined by Dara Hess (Owner, Sequence Climb and Regulatory Compliance Manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield) and Stacey Paine (President, Crown Center Redevelopment at Hallmark).
“Being able to hear the perspectives and learn from the experiences of women business leaders in Kansas City is invaluable,” Yu said. “There are a lot of obstacles for women in business. It’s not uncommon for women to be treated or paid unfairly in the workplace,” Schoemehl said. “We want to give women the tools and resources they need to succeed.”
Pictured L to R: Grace Yu, Dara Hess, Michelle Wimes, Stacey Paine, Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, Maggie Schoemehl
Looking Back at Freshman Year
Sponsor: Don Wagner
Judy Batts | I’ve really enjoyed my freshman year and am so thankful for the diverse opportunities I have had living in Kansas City and studying at UMKC. My favorite classes have been my Spanish courses. My professors have encouraged me to explore media that isn’t traditionally taught in classroom settings and embrace creativity through writing and presentations. Outside of class, I’ve had a great time getting to know the other scholars, practicing yoga more frequently, and exploring the city. This summer, I am continuing my third year working at the Kansas City Zoo. I’m changing my role a little bit and will start as an Educator in the park starting at the beginning of May. I look forward to working with visitors, writing curriculum, and helping educate guests about the importance of conservation! I also plan to travel to visit family out of state and will be taking classes for making stained glass.
Taylor Trudell | My favorite class was by far Restoration Ecology with Dr. Magaña. While it is a Gen-Ed course, it covers one of my favorite topics within my major. The class had a laid-back feeling but also covered a lot of material. Also, I was able to research crises and their potential solutions that interested us. My favorite club I am a part of is the Climbing Club! I love the camaraderie with my fellow climbers and the physical challenge of the climbs. It’s a sport that is made for people of any skill level, and it’s so exciting when you complete a difficult problem. My fellow scholars have become some of my closest friends, and I am eternally grateful for them and the program.
Mauricio Bernal | My first year at UMKC has been one of finding my footing and taking off running. Learning about myself and how to manage both school and social life has been a breeze thanks to the Trustees’ scholarship. I have been thriving this spring! I’ve been able to keep up a 4.0 while taking 18 credit hours and working as a technology instructor to middle/high school students on the weekends at KCK Community College through the K-12 Initiative Pipeline Programs.
My favorite class this semester is my Civil Engineering Statics course as I am beginning to understand how the math and physics classes I have been taking are being applied to make sure the structural integrity of various civil designs is kept. I have decided to pursue a master’s in civil engineering and major in business management with the possibility of getting my MBA. I am very invested in the design of civil structures, as well as the business and administration side of engineering.
Having been born and raised in Kansas City, I have seen various projects from a company called Burns & McDonnell and have always made it my goal to one day work at such a well-established and recognized company. This summer, with the enormous help from my Trustee mentor Gabe Hernandez, I will begin my internship at Burns & McDonnell. I am very excited to start working at my dream workplace at such an early chapter of my life.
First-Year Scholars Judy Batts and Elliott Smith cheered on Taylor Trudell during her 5k run.
First-Year Scholars during Uno Game Night
First-Year Scholars with Second- and Third-Year Scholars for Game Night early in the fall semester.
Internships and Summer Plans
Sponsor: UMKC Alumni Association
Mauricio Bernal | First-year scholar Mauricio Bernal is ecstatic to begin his upcoming internship at Burns & McDonnell. He is grateful to Joe Constantino and all the people who support the program for pairing him up with an amazing mentor. With this opportunity, Mauricio is confident that he will gain valuable experience which will certainly help him jumpstart his career aspirations. In addition to his internship, Mauricio is looking forward to the K-12 Initiative Summer Research Camp, which will be held on the UMKC campus this summer. Mauricio shared his excitement about the camp, stating, “I sadly missed the residential part of the summer camp during my high school years due to COVID, but I am excited to stop by and see what amazing work these students come up with on our very own campus!”
Judy Batts | This summer, first-year scholar Judy Batts will be returning to the Kansas City Zoo for her third year. She will be starting a new role as an educator, where she will be responsible for teaching, creating curriculum, leading tours, and facilitating overnight stays. Judy is thrilled to take on this new challenge and contribute to the education of visitors at the zoo.When asked about her plans for self-care and travel, Judy shared that she will be traveling to Austin, TX to celebrate her uncle’s 60th birthday. She is excited to spend time with her family and explore a new city. In addition, Judy and fellow first-year Trustees’ Scholar Elliott Smith will be heading to Nashville, TN to see Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers perform. This will be an excellent opportunity for Judy to unwind and enjoy her summer after a busy season of work and studying.
Maddy Bremer | This summer, Maddy will be interning at the Environmental Protection Agency in their Public Affairs department. She is looking forward to spending her summer in Kansas City and contributing to the important work of the agency. Maddy’s role will provide her with an invaluable opportunity to learn more about public relations and government operations. During her free time, she is particularly excited to focus on writing.
Grace Yu | This summer, Grace will be returning to intern at KPMG in the advisory practice where she will gain valuable work experience and learn from experts in the accounting field. She is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to train at KPMG’s facility in Orlando. There, she will have the chance to expand her network and meet interns from across the country. Grace is committed to making the most of her time at KPMG and is excited about the prospects for her future career in accounting.In addition to her internship, Grace will be representing her Delta Sigma Pi chapter as the voting delegate on national fraternity matters at their biennial conference in Houston. She is looking forward to connecting with other brothers, alumni, and business professionals, and sharing her insights and experiences. To round off her summer, Grace will be taking a well-deserved break and relaxing on a Western Caribbean cruise with a friend. Grace is taking the time to recharge her batteries and prepare to return to school in the fall.
Isabella Del Cid | Third-year scholar Isabella Del Cid is planning to start a nurse tech position, which will provide her with valuable hospital experience. In addition, Isabella will be taking summer classes to prepare for her senior year, showing her dedication to academic excellence. Isabella is also looking forward to visiting her family in Argentina, where she will take some time to recharge and spend quality time with her loved ones. Additionally, Isabella, like many other scholars, is eagerly anticipating the highly anticipated Taylor Swift concert in July.
Elliott Smith | Elliot will be accompanying his father to a tech conference in Vancouver and Seattle, which is an excellent chance for him to explore new places and gain unique experiences. In addition, Elliot will be serving as a counselor for the Missouri Leadership Seminar in Warrensburg, where he will have the opportunity to mentor and inspire young leaders in the making. Elliot is also looking forward to the Parade of Hearts, which is back this year. He is eager to embark on a fun and exciting scavenger hunt to find all of the hearts scattered around Kansas City.
Taylor Trudell | First-year scholar Taylor Trudell will be working at Royal Oaks Air Force Golf Course this summer. With two years of experience, Taylor is excited to return to this role and continue to work there. In addition to work, Taylor is also a big fan of Taylor Swift and is thrilled to have secured a ticket to her concert at Arrowhead Stadium. She’s also looking forward to a family trip to the Wisconsin Dells, where she plans to take in the natural beauty of the area and try paddleboarding. One of Taylor’s favorite summer activities is gardening, which she enjoys doing with her dad. They preserve a variety of vegetables for the rest of the year and also share their fresh produce and eggs with family and neighbors. Taylor even has a small flower garden, and her favorite flower to grow is the moonflower.
Z Kemp | Second-year scholar Z is gearing up for a productive summer break with a diverse set of plans. Z is eager to take part in the Kansas City Explores Earth and Environment (KC E3) group’s mentorship program, which provides guidance and support to high school and middle school students with an interest in STEM outreach. This experience will bring Z one step closer to their dream career in education and STEM outreach. In addition to their work with KC E3, Z will also contribute to the First Gen Roo and Summer Bridge program, designed to assist first-generation students at UMKC during their transition to college. As part of their civil engineering degree, Z will be taking a summer class on statistics to progress their education. Despite their busy schedule, Z intends to make time for their favorite hobby, crocheting, and improve their skill.
Sponsor: UMKC Trustees
In their Spring semester, the Trustees’ Scholars have continued to prioritize giving back to their UMKC and Kansas City community. The community service committee partnered with several organizations including Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City Restore, Once City Cafe at the Bishop Sullivan Center, and Operation Breakthrough. Scholars helped at Habitat for Humanity to organize and clean a local resale store that provides accessible housing for families in the metro. With Bishop Sullivan Center students helped serve a free dinner for individuals in the community. The final service event involved a partnership between the scholars and Operation Breakthrough, some members were able to visit with current high school students to discuss their questions and concerns about pursuing higher education.
When reflecting on the efforts of the Trustees’ Scholars this semester in serving Kansas City, Isabella del Cid explains that “Participating in community service with each other is a great way for us to support the great organizations that are inciting positive change in Kansas City!” After a great semester of community service, the scholars are excited to continue their involvement with the city this summer and into the next school year.
Trustees’ Scholars Isabella Del Cid, Larry Smith, Undy Batts, Elliot Smith and Sydnee Flowers at Operation Breakthrough
Scholar Mentee/Trustee Mentor Relationships
Sponsor: Woman’s City Club of KC
Michelle Wimes and Mouada Allan (3rd-Year)
In addition to helping Mouada become a more informed and active advocate for equity and inclusion, building a relationship with her mentor and her family has allowed Mouada to grow more as a person, both personally and professionally. Michelle Wimes’ guidance, support, and mentorship have been instrumental in shaping Mouada’s personal and professional development. Mouada stated, “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from her. Through our relationship, I have gained a deeper understanding of myself, my values, and my goals, and have been encouraged to pursue new avenues of growth and development.”
Furthermore, Michelle Wimes has challenged Mouada to think critically and creatively about her personal and professional goals and has provided her with invaluable guidance and advice as she navigates her career path. By sharing her own experiences and insights, Michelle Wimes has helped Mouada to broaden her perspective and consider new possibilities that she may not have otherwise explored.
Gabe Hernandez and Mauricio Bernal (1st-Year)
As Mauricio pursues dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Business Administration, he has had the privilege of being mentored by Gabe Hernandez, Vice President of Business Lines Operations at Burns & McDonnell. The introduction to Gabe during the summer before Mauricio’s first semester at UMKC, filled him with enthusiasm as I recognized the impeccable similarities between his professional aspirations and Gabe Hernandez’s experience.
During these meetings, we delve into meaningful topics, including establishing professional relationships, professional etiquette, overcoming challenges, and exploring career opportunities.”
Gabe’s mentorship and support have been instrumental in securing a coveted internship as a Civil Intern in the Underground Transmission and Distribution team at Burns & McDonnell during Mauricio’s first year at UMKC. Mauricio stated, “This experience is significant as it aligns directly with my career path, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience. In addition to gaining a mentor and role model, I have also developed a friendship with Gabe, which I treasure deeply.”