Kirby Scholar Program recognizes Wilkes “Best and Brightest”

Amanda Bialek, Life. Arts & Entertainment Asst. Editor and Michelle Lehman, Co-Writer

Students have the opportunity to work directly with clients and build business relationships while receiving valuable experience in their field of study. This is because of the Kirby Scholar Program.

The program is run through the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (APKCFEE) at Wilkes University.

Top-Performing students in accounting, business development, communication studies, digital design & media art, education, engineering and legal are chosen for the Kirby Scholar Program.

According to the APKCFEE, Kirby Scholars are selected because they are the “best and brightest” in their chosen discipline.

“In my opinion, being chosen as a Kirby Scholar means that you are considered an expert in your field of study,” Annelise Pryzwara, senior communication studies major said.

There are a total of eight Kirby Scholar positions at the APKCFEE that offer an array of opportunities for students.

Dr. Mark Stine, associate professor and chairman of communication studies and Dr. Jane Elmes-Crahall, professor of communication studies recommended Pryzwara for the Kirby Scholar position.

“This program has provided me with the opportunity to employ the knowledge and skills I have gained as a Communication Studies major outside of the department,” Pryzwara said. “The position also enables me to take on more of a consulting role, as well as a chance to work with students from many other majors.”

She is responsible for writing feature stories and content for the center’s newsletter and promoting the Kirby Lecture Series.

“In the future, I will help promote clients’ products/initiatives, write feature stories and possibly work on some videos for the center and their clients,” Pryzwara said.

The Kirby Scholar Program provides Kirby Scholars with hands-on experiential learning in their chosen discipline. Scholars receive valuable experience in their field of study and formal recognition of their work. They also work closely with business mentors, who are typically local and national leaders in the fields.

“I am able to work on different projects that are unique and can be a positive addition to my resume,” Cassidy Clement, Kirby Junior Business Scholar said.

Clement works with clients to develop different marketing elements and strategies. She helps APKCFEE coordinate marketing materials and events too.

“It is truly a one-of-a-kind and comprehensive experiential learning opportunity for a select group of exceptional students. Not only is it beneficial for the students, it also benefits our APKCFEE clients, our APKCFEE mentors and the student’s academic departments,” said Dr. Rodney S. Ridley, director of the Center.

Ridley had a vision to move the Kirby Center forward, maintain the center’s founding goals and to continue expanding the work of his outstanding predecessors.

Originally, the APKCFEE set out to mentor Wilkes University students, faculty and staff members. The center wanted to create a program that would work ‘hands-on’ with their businesses all the way through their entrepreneurial experience.

There was a significant demand from the NEPA community for these types of ‘hands-on’ services which caused the APKCFEE to expand its program beyond the University. The APKCFEE client base is continuing to grow.

Ridley and his team had to answer a new question, “How do we mentor 50 businesses on a limited budget?”

The answer was the Kirby Scholar Program.

The next iteration of the program is to incorporate international students. APKCFEE hopes to expand the Kirby Scholar Program regionally, nationally and globally in the future.   

Visit the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneuriship located at 65 West South St., Wilkes Barre, PA 18701.