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Rotary: Centre College’s Lincoln Scholars Program

By DAVE FAIRCHILD

Danville Rotary

Centre College’s director of its new Lincoln Scholars Program was Rotary’s April 7 luncheon speaker.  Robert Schalkoff, formerly oversaw a program for development of “Global Talent” at Yamaguchi Prefectural University (YPU) in Japan.  

In July of 2016, Schalkoff came to Centre to develop and administer its new Lincoln Scholars Program.  He shared the Lincoln Scholars program’s status and his plans for the 4 year full ride “plus” program.  The Lincoln Scholars Program is named for the Kentucky native and 16th president of the United States, who rose from humble beginnings here in Kentucky to the highest office in the land.  Lincoln’s mentor and first law partner was Centre alumnus John Todd Stuart.  

Centre President John Roush has said Schalkoff is a perfect fit for Centre’s newest premier scholarship program, the Lincoln Scholars.  That’s quite a complement, because the program’s donors specified that this prestigious scholarship be offered to students who possess the capacity and deep desire to change the world.

The program began in the fall of 2016 with 10 inaugural recipients. There were 500 nominations for the second group of scholarships awards.  Nominations came from 26 countries.  Ten additional Lincoln Scholars will be selected for each subsequent entering class, with 40 Lincoln Scholars to be enrolled by the fall of 2019.  In addition to covering full tuition, room and board for four years, Lincoln Scholars also receive three summer enrichment experiences beginning in the summer prior to matriculation.  

Schalkoff said, “Lincoln Scholars engage in study abroad, internships or undergraduate research.  Breakout seminars featuring people who are already acting as agents of change in the world come to campus to interact with our future agents for change.  A capstone project, to be completed in the summer before scholars’ senior year, will focus on the scholar’s chosen career or graduate studies.”

Schalkoff introduced Rachel Cooper, the first of two student speakers.  Cooper is a Gatton Academy graduate, who was named the YMCA of Greater Louisville’s 2016 Black Achievers Youth Achiever of the Year in 2016.

“Good afternoon! My name is Rachel Cooper and I am part of the inaugural group of Lincoln Scholars at Centre College.  I intend on majoring in Economics and Finance and minoring in Chinese. I am also on the pre-medical track.  I am a member of Diversity Student Union, Girls in Engineering Math and Science, and Student Activities Committee.”

“In my first summer enrichment program, I will spend time in Costa Rica working at The Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children (FIMRC). I chose this summer experience because I am interested in not only medicine and health care but also in health policy and health economics.  I also plan to bring the 100 Dollar Solution Foundation to the Lincoln Scholars program. The 100-dollar solution is a non-profit organization that is focused on service learning that makes a sustainable impact around the world.  I worked with the 100 dollar solution in Iceland researching the sources of water contamination and provided results to the local government.”

“The next speaker, also from Kentucky, is Kendall Yount, who graduated Frankfort Christian Academy.  She is both an athlete and a scholar.  Before coming to Centre, she was a gold medalist in the Youth Olympics and is currently ranked #1 in the world in her weight class in Taekwondo.  Here is Kendall.”

“Thanks for having me.  In my first year at Centre, I have been able both compete in my sport and continue my education.  I am planning to major in chemistry.  I had the honor of representing Centre at the 2017 National Collegiate Championships at the University of California San Diego where I won the gold medal.  Because of that victory, I will have the opportunity to represent Centre and our country at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan in August.

“This summer I will be, with Rachel, at FIMRC outside of San Jose, Costa Rica.  When I return home from Costa Rica I will participate in an intern at Ephraim McDowell Hospital, where I will have the opportunity to shadow an anesthesiologist. These upcoming experiences will be an excellent opportunity for me to further develop my passions for both medicine and Taekwondo.  I will gain insights into medical fields in different parts of the world and from different organizations, while also representing my country on an international stage.  The guidance that I receive from the Lincoln Scholars Program will help me help me balance my academics and athletic endeavors, while also challenging me to do so.  Thank you.”

In conclusion, Schalkoff said that he hoped, at a future date, to have the opportunity to introduce Rotary to the other eight Lincoln Scholars. 

 “I promise you that they are every bit as outstanding as the two you have heard today.”