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Research experience helps Wertz Scholar launch post-college plans

Research experience helps Wertz Scholar launch post-college plans

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With several family members running a company, business was in her blood. Coupled with an early push toward business from a middle school teacher, it seemed nearly inevitable that Kennedy Marsh ’25 would go on to study business administration in college.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to study business. Working part-time in my family’s establishment instilled a love of business in me. Additionally, my middle school business teacher was instrumental in cementing that target and made me even more certain that business was what I wanted,” said Marsh, a Lycoming College business administration major, economics minor, and Institute for Management Studies Scholar.

"...the ability to complete research projects outside of the classroom will help me really set myself apart from other candidates"

But after diving deeper into the business program at Lycoming, Marsh developed an interest in research. Mark Zajack, Ph.D., assistant professor of business at Lycoming College, invited her to work with him on a business administration research project. As a Wertz Scholar, Marsh jumped at the opportunity with the knowledge that she would be financially supported throughout.

Named for D. Frederick Wertz, who served as Lycoming College president from 1955-1968, the Wertz Scholars Program supports students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class. The program includes a stipend of up to $5,000 to be used toward an enhanced academic experience — including support for internships, faculty-led research, or global education — during their time at Lycoming. Students also receive the option to reside in the Wertz Scholars First-Year Residential Community, to participate in the Wertz mentor program, and periodic dinners with College administrators in support of career planning.

Zajack’s and Marsh’s research seeks to assess the extent to which the intrinsic or extrinsic nature of college student aspirations is related to various student outcomes. Marsh delved into the self-determination theory of motivation, developed college student survey measures, hypothesized relationships, and developed a research plan to pinpoint the connection between college students’ aspirations and their outcomes, such as academic performance, stress, and well-being. They also collaborated on a data collection and analysis plan for the future, and when Marsh was awarded a Haberberger Fellowship, the two were able to continue the work in trying to understand how the source of one’s motivation affects performance and well-being.

“Faculty working directly with undergrads on external interests and honing those interests is something that is unique to Lycoming. My friends at other institutions do not get experiences like this. The Wertz program is great because it enables professors to seek out students who have that extra drive and desire to do something more. Dr. Zajack is a mentor to me and as my research partner he has affirmed my interest and passion in becoming a college professor,” said Marsh, who also mentioned plans to pursue an M.B.A. and then a doctoral degree so that someday she can teach in higher education.

Marsh is an active member of the Lycoming College community and keeps busy with a number of co-curricular activities. She is a tutor for finance courses, a peer mentor, and an active member of several honors societies, including Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Beta Delta, Gamma Sigma Alpha, and Omicron Delta Kappa. She serves as an orientation guide and is currently the vice president of membership for the Lycoming chapter of Gamma Delta Sigma sorority.

“One of the best things a student can do with a Lycoming education is to diversify their education. No one’s experience is the same,” said Marsh. “Being a Wertz Scholar and having the ability to complete research projects outside of the classroom will help me really set myself apart from other candidates as I prepare to apply to graduate programs.”