By Sam Colt
Andrew Pochter ’15 has been memorialized by both family and friends since his untimely death over the summer. Through the Andrew Driscoll Pochter Memorial International Studies Fund, his family and friends hope to honor his life and achievements on campus for years to come.
The fund was established in large part by Pochter’s parents, according to a press release issued by Kenyon’s Office of Public Affairs last Friday. It will provide an opportunity for one or more students ﾗ regardless of financial need ﾗ to participate in a summer internship in the Islamicate world, conduct advanced study related to international affairs or the Middle East or develop proficiency in an Islamicate language.
“I think in many ways the interests and needs that we have on campus ﾗ support for internships, especially internships abroad ﾗ is something that’s a well identified need on campus and happens to overlap with an interest of the [Pochter] family,” President Sean Decatur said.
The Pochter fund is not the first College-administered internship grant, but it is the first to award funds regardless of financial need. According to Vice President for College Relations Sarah Kahrl, the existing internship fund administered by the College is the Calvin and Lenice Walugh Endowed Fellowship, which supports students who receive need-based financial aid and need assistance to participate in internships or externships. The fellowship was endowed by Larae Bush Schraeder ’97, the current president of the Alumni Council, and her husband Jeffrey.
Considering the highly competitive job market Kenyon students will enter upon graduation, some have raised the question of whether or not the College has aresponsibility to create more opportunities like the Pochter Fund and the Walugh Fellowship for students to participate in internships that are often unpaid.
“I think internships and experiences outside the classroom are becoming essential to the overall educational experience,” Decatur said. “We need to make sure we’re providing financial assistance so that students who might not be able to afford the complete cost of an internship ﾅ [have] avenues for that to be accessible.”
Whether or not the College will expand its internship funding in the near future remains unclear. The topic was addressed at last summer’s faculty retreat, according to Decatur, as part of a larger discussion on the place of experiential learning becoming more central to a Kenyon education.
Kahrl suggested internship funding would feature prominently in the College’s long-term plans. “I think co-curricular learning is on everyone’s mind right now,” she said. “We’re always open to that idea from the development perspective because so many students are interested in internships and it’s becoming such an important part of developing student readiness for the workplace.”
Kahrl did not say the exact timeline the Pochter fund will become available for current students. “We wanted to announce it because there are both Kenyon people and friends of the Pochter family who wish to contribute, and we wanted to get that information public on the web with the ability for people to make gifts online,” she said.
The College is also hard at work accruing additional resources for the fund, in addition to what they’ve raised so far. “It’s a very nice beginning,” Kahrl said. “I’m really hopeful that in a few months we’ll be able to announce a very nice total.”
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