Vincient Whatley says his first memory of KWC was trees; big, beautiful green trees everywhere. “I was overwhelmed by their beauty,” he recalls. “The fall colors, snow on the limbs in winter and then the unbelievable flowering trees outside the Hahn Building in spring; I enjoy them in every season.”
His second memory involves people. “Everyone on campus and throughout Owensboro is so friendly,” he explains. “I had heard of Southern hospitality, and now I am experiencing it. People make eye contact, and they are very genuine.”
Vincient is a Rogers Fellow, awarded a scholarship from the The Rogers Foundation of Las Vegas. He was raised by a single parent and explains that the foundation made it possible for him to earn his degree. “When I interviewed with the foundation for the scholarship, and they told me I was a recipient, I hugged everyone in the room. I was so excited.”
He had never heard of Owensboro, Ky., before he applied for the scholarship and had never visited campus before his arrival on Move-In Day. “I have come to love it here. The friendliness and support of the campus community made it easy to fit in. This would not have happened at a large university.”
Vincient participated in the two-month American Economic Association Summer Program hosted by Howard University this summer. A virtual experience due to COVID, he took two introductory graduate level economics courses and an experimental learning class in which he worked with a non-profit that conducts research and provides grants for economic-related issues.
“The program allowed me to refine the skills I will need to pursue jobs in economics, and I was exposed to coursework I need to be successful in the field,” he explained. “I also met with economics professionals each week and learned about career opportunities.”
Vincient and co-authors Ava Joiner ’22, Ramsese Lane ’21 and Silvey Benson ’21 earned the second place award in the Undergraduate Paper Competition at the Kentucky Economic Association Annual Conference on Oct. 22. Ramsese and Silvey are also Rogers’ Fellows. They studied variables which impact viral load (how many blood cells are infected) of individuals living with HIV and factors that impact viral load.
He is a peer writing fellow for the Students Success Center, a mentor liaison for MALES [Males Achieving Leadership Excellence and Success] Leadership Institute, a Campus Ministries intern and vice president of finance for Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Vincient describes KWC as a special place which has connected him to people who offer support. “Shawn Tomes [director of Campus Ministries] and Chelsea Dowell [assistant professor of economics] point me in the right direction. They have both helped me so much, and I love my time with Campus Ministries and in economics classes.”
As Vincient looks beyond graduation in April, he is considering graduate school in economics and possibly a position as a research assistant.
“Sometimes I think being here is a dream,” he shares. “The Rogers Foundation and KWC made all this possible. I am very grateful.
“God has blessed me, and I believe I must pass the blessings on to others.”