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‘Kauffman Scholars is always going to be a part of me.’

A collage of Kauffman Scholars alum Vilmer Alvarado, AshleyMarie Marie, and Michaela Brooks

These Uncommon Conversations explore the personal experiences of recent Kauffman Scholars program graduates as they reflect on the continued impact and legacy of the program.

Uncommon Conversations

“It’s important to have role models that look like you, that you can use as an example in your mind as this is possible. If they can do it, so can I,” says Vilmer Alvarado, Kauffman Scholar and recent graduate of the University of Kansas.

“I know that was always incredibly important to me to have people within the program that look like me, and that went through similar experiences that I went through, to show me that regardless of wherever I came from, it’s possible to graduate from college.”

To discuss their experience as Kauffman Scholars and the impact of the program, Alvarado and fellow Kauffman Scholar Michaela Brooks joined Kauffman Scholars Career and Alumni Program Coordinator AshleyMarie Marie (who was also a member of the inaugural class of Kauffman Scholar awardees), for two Uncommon Conversations at an ideal time for reflection.

As the decades-long Kauffman scholarship program prepares to sunset next year, the Foundation continues to celebrate the scholars and examine the lessons learned from an effort that has impacted more than 800 students. Listen as Marie welcomes these two scholars into conversation and into the strong Kauffman Scholar Alumni family.

Living, and creating, a legacy:
Vilmer Alvarado

Vilmer Alvarado graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in strategic communications, a Bachelor of Arts in political science, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration. Alvarado and Marie discuss how the Kauffman Scholars program impacted them personally and how it’s impacted the community of more than 800 Kauffman Scholars.

Listen to the conversation between AshleyMarie Marie and Vilmer Alvarado:

Also available on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts

Leveraging impact and holding space:
Michaela Brooks

Michaela Brooks graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Interior Design and a minor in business. Brooks and Marie address the impact of a program that not only alleviates student debt but provides support and guidance – especially for Brooks, who was one of only a few Black students in her college courses.

Listen to the conversation between AshleyMarie Marie and Michaela Brooks:

Also available on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts

The Kauffman Scholars program is a multi-year postsecondary access, persistence, completion, and scholarship program designed to help students in Kansas City prepare for and earn a postsecondary credential, diversifying the local career-professional pipeline. Entering the program in seventh grade, scholars receive the tools they need to achieve success, both in the classroom as students and as young professionals in the workplace. This includes high-quality, student-centered coaching for each scholar throughout their journey.