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Bethel joins young professionals group’s effort to keep talent in Wichita

January 12th, 2022

Megan Kershner talks with a group of Bethel College students.

The Office of Career and Leadership Development has joined “Campus Wichita,” a program launched in 2021 to give college students a chance for professional development and networking for 10 weeks over the summer.

“I am really excited that Bethel will be partnering with the W, the young professionals’ division of the Wichita chamber, on an initiative called Campus Wichita,” said Megan Kershner, director of career and leadership development.

Wichita businesses and companies provide the internships, while Campus Wichita’s Fellows Program, #internICT, helps students “gain the soft skills needed for a 21st-century workforce while connecting them to the Wichita community,” according to the W’s marketing material.

Some of what Campus Wichita offers its Fellows: participation in “Your Leadership Edge,” a program of the Kansas Leadership Center; access to the W’s networking events; mentoring; volunteer opportunities in the Wichita area; a “passport” to facilitate exploring Wichita during free time.

Campus Wichita’s purpose is “to expose students to industry and engage them in the community to help them envision a future of living and working in Wichita.”

It grew from Project Wichita’s identification of “talent” as one of five focus areas for long-range planning over the next decade.

While there are 15 colleges and universities within 90 minutes of Wichita, the data shows that few students outside of Wichita State University (and then only half) stay in the area after graduation – and in particular that the area is bleeding educated women and people of color.

When Wichita Young Professionals, which became the W, was created, its founders discovered that “every time a young professional leaves Wichita, we lose a capital investment of $300,000.”

Campus Wichita hopes to help reverse that.

Campus Wichita has a goal to place 60 interns in summer 2022. Hopefully some of those will come from Bethel College.

“This will be an outstanding opportunity for our students to get involved in the Wichita business market,” Kershner said. 

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.