Lauren Koval, this year’s recipient of the Rising Trendsetter STEMMy award, graduated from the Trustees’ Scholars Program in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Today, she remains in Kansas City, working as an engineering services manager at McCownGordon Construction – a company introduced to her through the Trustees’ Scholars Program.
In 2016, Koval recalls meeting Pat McCown, a former member of the Board of Trustees and the co-founder of McCownGordon Construction. This meeting inspired her to apply for a summer internship at the company; upon graduating from UMKC, her earnest and strong work ethic transformed her previous internship into a full-time offer. She’s grateful, fondly stating that, “Having the exposure to business leaders in the Kansas City area is such an incredible benefit of the program, and I am so thankful I was able to meet Pat that day!”
Not only has the Trustees’ Scholars Program enriched her professional life and career, but it has also strengthened her sense of achievement, virtue and confidence. While she was an undergraduate, Koval was not only balancing her coursework as an engineering student but was simultaneously playing for the UMKC women’s soccer team and upholding her responsibilities as a Trustees’ Scholar. Although it was certainly exhausting, she appreciates the impeccable organization and time management skills it has allowed her to carry into her career.
She also affectionately remembers the sense of community the Program offered her: “[It] created an environment where we were encouraged to work hard and challenge ourselves, but also know that we had help and support when we needed it.” Not only was she able to create warm and fun-filled memories with her fellow scholars during trips to the Crossroads for First Friday exhibitions and on spontaneous ice cream runs, but she also developed a larger appreciation for stewardship and support in the wider community. This understanding has allowed her a heightened perspective on cultivating and fostering relationships with other people, which has proved to be incredibly advantageous during her experience in both her life and the workforce.
Most importantly, the Trustees’ Scholars Program has instilled in her an unflinching level of persistence and assurance, urging her to continue growing and following her dreams. She is immensely thankful for the support that her mentor and the Trustees provided and credits her fellow scholars as well: “It was such an incredible experience to be surrounded by such driven and high-achieving students. It inspired me to strive to achieve more every day.”