Platano Named Kemper Scholar

Chris Platano ’10 knew before coming to Willamette that he was interested in world affairs, but an experience in one of his first-year courses cemented his idea to seek a career in international development or policy.

The class was “Global Health: Crises in Context,” a College Colloquium course taught by assistant anthropology professor Joyce Millen. The College Colloquium program allows first-year students to pick a class topic that mirrors their interests and pursue their intellectual passions as soon as they arrive on campus.

“We talked about AIDS and bird flu and other diseases that are prevalent in impoverished nations,” Platano says. “We discussed ways they could be relieved and prevented. I thought I knew about the world before taking this class, but it completely opened my eyes to what’s happening.”

Platano will have extra chances to gain the skills he needs for his future career thanks to a national scholarship. He is one of two Willamette students recently named a Kemper Scholar, a program from the James S. Kemper Foundation for first-year college students interested in business or management careers. The program’s mission is to prepare these students for leadership and service. Willamette is one of 15 small colleges that can nominate students to be Kemper Scholars.

Platano will receive an annual scholarship of $3,000-$8,000 during his sophomore, junior and senior years. He also will receive stipends for two summer internships -- one at a nonprofit organization in Chicago after his sophomore year, the other in a location of his choice after his junior year.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to meet people who can give me the tools I need to go into the business field,” says Platano, who plans to major in economics with a possible double major in politics.

Platano was involved on several levels in high school -- in track and cross country, as student body president and as a volunteer in his community -- and he has continued to be active at Willamette. He is on the University’s cross country and track teams. In the fall, he will be treasurer of the Circle K Club, a community service student organization, and a group leader for the Opening Days new student orientation program. He is going to South Africa this May as part of a Willamette post-session course -- again building his interest in world affairs.

He also hangs out with Tokyo International University of America students through Building Bridges, a program that helps the Japanese students make new friends at Willamette and learn about American culture. “We try to make them feel at home here at Willamette. It’s been a fun experience. You learn so much.”

Chris Platano

Chris Platano