November 26, 2020

Webster students chosen out of 1,000 applicants for summer scholarship

Gary Jackson sat before his computer in shock. As tears filled his eyes, the senior political science major read, and re-read, the email that would determine how he would spend his summer.

The email was from Coro Kansas City, a public affairs and leadership organization, informing him that he had been chosen out of over 1,000 applicants and 24 interviewees to be one of only 12 summer interns.

After the initial shock faded, Jackson sent a Facebook message to Dre Concepcion, a junior jazz studies major, who also applied and made it to the interviewing process. A few days later, they found out that they both got the coveted internship.

“When we both found out, we had dinner and we had wine,” Jackson said. “We had to celebrate. This is going to be an amazing, life-changing experience. As long as we put in the hard work as needed, I think it can go so far.”

Jackson and Concepcion are two of three St. Louis-based students who applied for the Coro Kansas City internship. The internship, led by former Kansas City mayor, The Honorable Kay Barnes, focuses on leadership and community development in Kansas City, Mo.

The 10-week internship will span from June to August and will provide Jackson and Concepcion with the opportunity to grow as leaders while working with Barnes and other respected professionals from various fields.

“Just to be able to know that I’m going to be working with these people, and they are my leaders, I’m beyond excited,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Concepcion learned about the internship and applied to it late last semester. . Only 24 applicants were selected for an interview in Kansas City, Mo., on Jan. 7. Jackson and Concepcion were acquaintances before applying for the internship —Jackson was a desk attendant at East Hall, the dormitory where Concepcion lives. The two had no idea the other had applied for the internship until the day of the interview.

“There was a list of everyone that was there and I was reading it,” Concepcion said. “I think he was reading it at the same time. We both looked up at each other. It was like, ‘Oh, thank God!’”

The two said they were comforted knowing someone else from Webster was there for the grueling, nine-hour interview process. During the interview, students were placed into groups and asked to do various public speaking and media assignments.

“It was draining, but I wouldn’t call it too stressful,” Concepcion said. “It was good stressful. It was intensive, but definitely worth it.”

Don Wise, the co-director of Coro Kansas City, said he and the other judges were very impressed by Jackson and Concepcion. Jackson, Wise said, stood out because of his ability to communicate effectively, his background in debate and his positive attitude. Concepcion stood out because of his musical talent and his, “efforts in social entrepreneurship.”

“Our challenge is to create a community of interns who are able to work together to grow as leaders,” Wise said. “We try to consider their engagement not only in school, but outside of the academic world.”

After Webster, Jackson hopes to attend law school at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

“I guess why I chose this is more for networking,” Jackson said. “I just think this is a great start to immerse myself in the culture of Kansas City and into the social issues. Meeting lawyers in our internship process is a big help as well.”

Eventually, Concepcion hopes to open a chain of non-profit cafes, where struggling jazz musicians and poets can perform. He anticipates this internship will provide him with the leadership skills necessary to achieve his goals.

They will be trained for five weeks before embarking on community development projects for the second five weeks.

“I worked my tail off to get this thing and it paid off,” Jackson said. “It finally paid off.”

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