Menard Family Scholars Program enters its second year

Photo courtesy of Marcia Hornung

The Menard Family Scholars Program started its second cohort this fall semester. Marcia Hornung serves as the Menard Family Director at the Center for Principled Business in the College of Business. She said the program fills a void in the college.

“One gap that our college identified when we were working on our most recent strategic plan is a program just like this, so a program really targeting high-achieving students,” Hornung said. “Then we had a funding opportunity through the Menard Family.”

After receiving the funding, Hornung said the program accepted its first cohort of 29 students with majors in the College of Business for the 2020-2021 school year. Within the cohort, the second of which began this fall, students take courses, go on trips and listen to business speakers together.

“It’s a year-long, cohort-based program,” Hornung said. “We can take between 25 and 30 students each year. This year we also have 29 students. We have students from every discipline within the College of Business.”

Hornung said there is a selection process for first-year students entering the College of Business. She said the program targets high-achieving students and considers their high school GPA, ACT and SAT scores and interviews.

After being selected and entering the program, she said students take three courses in the fall and two in the spring.

“There’s three main themes that we really center the whole program around,” Hornung said. “They include leadership development, innovation and innovative thinking — or having an entrepreneurial mindset — and ethical decision-making. All of the programming that we do ties into those broad themes in some way.”

Because students take the five required classes together and spend so much time together, Hornung said she hopes students in the program build strong relationships.

“One of my personal goals for the cohort would be that they find a really strong group of friends that share big goals together and can really lean on each other throughout their college experience,” Hornung said.

Katie Schmit, freshman in marketing and member of the 2021-2022 cohort, said she also enjoys the experiences and activities the program offers the group.

“The experiences I’ve had through this have been amazing, as well,” Schmit said. “I’ve just got some amazing classmates that I’m super glad to have gotten to know. The experiences have been really good.”

One of those experiences is a partnership with the Staley School of Leadership Studies for one of the program’s courses. Hornung said partnering with them is an asset to the program.

“I’m glad we can partner with the Staley School of Leadership Studies,” Hornung said. “Students get really good exposure thinking about service in our community, learning about their own leadership style and how they interact with others.”

Schmit said learning about leadership has helped her grow in the program.

“One of my main goals was to get some more leadership experience, and I think I’ve really accomplished that in the leadership class I’m taking currently as a Menard Scholar,” Schmit said. “It’s been a very good class for me to grow in that leadership experience.”

Hornung said classroom work is not the only aspect of the program.

“The other big thing that we do and would like to do more of is some learning trips,” Hornung said. “Of course, last year, that did not happen. This year we did take a day trip to Koch Industries. In the spring, we’re hoping to take at least two more learning trips. One of those we’re planning to go to St. Louis, and we’re also looking to take a trip to Dallas, Texas.”

Hornung said even though a cohort lasts for one year, the title of Menard Scholar is permanent.

“Once we consider students Menard Scholars, we always consider them Menard Scholars, so if we have different activities throughout the year, they’re invited to participate in those throughout their time,” Hornung said.

Hannah Higgins, sophomore in finance, is a Menard Scholar from the 2020-2021 cohort and now serves as the learning assistant for the program. She said the program gives students an advantage as they go forward in college.

“It definitely just gives students, as freshmen, kind of an edge over a lot of the other freshmen who would come in as business students because you have that opportunity to make relationships with people in the business college earlier,” Higgins said.

Schmit said she recognizes the value of building those relationships.

“I’ve also learned a lot about business and the networking side of business,” Schmit said. “I’ve met so many amazing, successful people in the business field. So, it’s been great to get to know them and create those connections.”

While this is only the second cohort of the Menard Family Scholars Program, Hornung said its influence is already growing.

“Several students have told me that they chose K-State over another institution because we do have a program like this,” Hornung said. “I think we know that there’s a need for programming like this, so I’m excited that we can fill that gap.”

Hornung said the goal of the program is to prepare the Menard Scholars for their future careers.

“We really want to invest in experiences for them that are meaningful and, hopefully, result in really great connections for future internships and jobs,” Hornung said.

More information about the Menard Family Scholars Program is available on the program’s website.