• Current Kemper Scholars Phuong-Hieu Nguyen, Robert Lehr and Sabrina Rangel stand with Ryan LaHurd, president and executive...
    Current Kemper Scholars Phuong-Hieu Nguyen, Robert Lehr and Sabrina Rangel stand with Ryan LaHurd, president and executive director of the James S. Kemper Foundation. Only students from 16 of the country’s top liberal arts colleges are invited to apply for the prestigious Kemper Scholars program, which is a scholarship-mentorship program designed to prepare students at liberal arts colleges for leadership positions.

Over the years, Southwestern students have had an excellent track record when it comes to being selected for prestigious national scholarships and fellowships such as the Fulbright Teaching Assistantships.

But university officials think they could do even better.

That’s why David Gaines, an associate professor of English who has been serving as director of the Paideia program, has been asked by President Edward Burger and Provost Jim Hunt to lead a new initiative to make Southwestern students competitive for even more prestigious scholarships such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.

“Southwestern students can be competitive on a national level,” Gaines said. “We just need to start working with them earlier. We can’t pull together a Rhodes Scholarship application the month before when other people have been working on it for three or four years. Students will have the best chance for scholarships and fellowships if they are identified early and mentored consistently throughout their years here.”

Gaines will chair a campuswide committee that includes Alex Anderson from Career Services, Tisha Temple from the Office of Intercultural Learning, Kathryn Stallard from Information Services, and faculty members Barbara Anthony, Erika Berroth, Emily Niemeyer, David Olson, Carl Robertson and Willis Weigand.

In addition to identifying strong candidates for various national scholarships, the committee will select candidates for various visiting interviewers and prepare those students for their interviews.

With his role as director of the Paideia program winding down, Gaines said he is excited about the new challenge.

“Part of what I’ve enjoyed about teaching at Southwestern is the opportunity to work with students over their four years here,” he said. “Paideia emphasized that and this will also.”

Over the summer, Gaines went to Chicago to visit the three students from Southwestern who are currently participating in the Kemper Scholars program, which is limited to students from 16 of the country’s top liberal arts colleges. He also went to Atlanta to meet with the people who run the Fulbright program.

“It’s important for us to know how the system works and for foundations and agencies to be able to put a face with our institution,” Gaines said.

Gaines said national fellowships and scholarships can help set students apart when it comes to finding employment or getting accepted into graduate schools. They also provide opportunities to meet people with energy and drive who they might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet.

Students interested in learning more about national scholarships and fellowships can visit here or contact Gaines at gainesd@southwestern.edu.

Gaines will be keeping his office on the second floor of the Prothro Center that previously served as the office for the Paideia program. He said students are welcome to drop by any time or call him at 512-863-1494.

“I’m delighted that David will bring his famous energy, creativity and love for students to this important leadership role in inspiring our students to see exciting intellectual life-changing opportunities beyond their Southwestern experience,” President Burger said.