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With scholarship aid, Alex Kern and Donna Kemp pursue business education

Among the ways that Wichita entrepreneur Tom Devlin has demonstrated his support for Wichita State University was establishing the Gertrude Devlin Scholarship Fund in 1980. The scholarship honors his mother, who mortgaged her house so her son could start Rent-A-Center, which grew into a national rent-to-own chain.

Devlin said he wanted to provide a scholarship to make college an affordable option for students with financial hardships. One of the scholarship requirements is that recipients must work at least part-time, a condition Devlin believes helps to build a strong work ethic that will serve the students well in their careers.

Here’s a look at the current recipients of the scholarship.

Alex Kern

Alex Kern, 24, Wichita
Academics: Senior majoring in entrepreneurship
Career aspirations: Eventually, I want to create businesses that will give jobs to people. I have my own acrylics fabrication business, and have sold some of my products in every state as well as Australia, Sweden, Malaysia and Canada. I’m also considering getting my MBA.

How has your educational experience prepared you to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve learned a lot through the Meritrust Forum Series, where they bring in successful business people to share their experiences. I’ve participated in World Trade Council activities, which is something that Dr. Dharma deSilva is involved with. He’s one of my most impressive professors.

How important was it for you to get scholarship aid to go to college?
I grew up the only child of a single mother. My dad was never in the picture. My mom didn’t graduate from college, but she has worked hard to help me with my expenses. She wants this for me. I also work part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. In addition to the Gertrude Devlin scholarship, I also receive two other scholarships that have been helpful.

Who is your role model or hero?
My mother, and also my grandfather, because he helped raise me. He was a big influence. And I look up to Donald Vaughn Sr., who employs me during the summer. He’s 80 years old and still has one of the strongest work ethics I’ve ever seen.

Donna Kemp

Donna Kemp, 20, Yoder
Academics: Junior majoring in business management with a minor in human resources
Career aspirations: My ultimate goal is to own my own bakery, but if that does not work out then I would like to work in human resources in the area of recruitment.

What has been your favorite or most valued experience at Wichita State?
Mostly all the people I have met, but also feeling proud to be a Shocker at Convocation and basketball games. I also volunteer at commencement every year and just seeing students walk across the stage makes me strive to be there one day.

How does the scholarship you receive impact your life and education?
I have a real need for this scholarship because my family isn’t able to pay for any of my college. I work full-time, go to school full-time and sometimes have to work overtime to pay my bills while still trying to get good grades. I don't spend a lot of money on fun activities or on myself. This scholarship has added some breathing room and less stress on me about my financial status.

Who is your role model or hero?
My mother, because she doesn't let anything get her down. She is the strongest woman I know. Whenever I am stressing out about something, she calms me down and reminds me that God has it under control and that I shouldn't worry about anything.


click here to learn more about how to establish a scholarship or fellowship