For KC Royals Scholar Michelle Thatsanithone, staying close to home has translated into opportunity. She is currently a marketing intern at CBIZ and has been since last summer. The internship was only supposed to last for a few months, but Michelle proved herself and was asked to continue working part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer. “I’ve learned so much as an intern such as event planning, email etiquette, how to have conversations with people and how to be more prepared,” she said.
In hindsight, Michelle had been prepared for her college experience since she was a student at Lincoln College Prep. In her English course, she was required to write a 2,000-word essay every two weeks and while her peers struggled, Michelle took the work in stride. “That was something I had already done in high school, so it was as simple as making a plan, writing the paper and turning it in,” she said.
The experiences from 20/20 Leadership have also proven to be beneficial for the rising sophomore, who received encouragement to apply for the program from Nyree Smith, a counselor at Lincoln. She graduated in 2015 as salutatorian and because of that, Michelle had the opportunity to deliver a speech at graduation. She credits her experience in 20/20 for teaching her how to handle that moment. “Without 20/20 Leadership, I wouldn’t know how to stand up and project my voice with confidence. I also wouldn’t know simple things, such as how to have a firm handshake or know that name tags always go on the right side,” she said.
Michelle attends Park University in Parkville, Missouri, a campus with smaller class sizes, the diversity she says was looking for and scholarship opportunities she didn’t find at other institutions. While she is only entering her second year this fall, Michelle is on track to earn two undergraduate degrees, as well as a graduate degree by the year 2020. She is the first in her family to attend a university and the pressure to succeed is one that she takes in stride.
Michelle was not initially named a KC Royals Scholar when she graduated last year and said she was shocked when she received communication from 20/20 Leadership earlier this year with the news. “All I could say was thank you,” she recalls. The additional scholarship will support her as she looks to move on campus in the fall. With the move, she hopes to have the opportunity to be more involved on campus, as she was in high school.
The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities. Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.