New Scholarship Aims to Attract Diverse Students to the Insurance Industry

Published on May 11, 2021

Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI), a workers’ compensation insurance provider, established a new scholarship at Eastern Kentucky University with the goal of ultimately having a more diverse workforce within their company and the insurance industry. 

Last year, KEMI formed a diversity and inclusion committee to identify ways for the company to be more inclusive. In one of the committee’s first meetings, KEMI President and CEO Jon Stewart shared that when he travels for insurance conferences and looks around the room, he sees a lack of diversity among those in leadership positions. 

“We believe people with various backgrounds and life experiences can generate ideas or perspectives that allow us to better others – starting with our employees, but extending to our customers, agents, injured workers, and many others we serve,” said Ryan Worthen, director of marketing and customer experience at KEMI. “The idea for this scholarship was born as a way for KEMI and EKU to increase our focus in attracting a more diverse population to the insurance industry, and hopefully someday, have a broader representation of leaders who have a seat at the table.”

KEMI funded the scholarship with an initial $15,000 donation. Starting with the 2021-22 academic year, the KEMI/EKU Diversity Scholarship will be awarded to a racially or ethnically diverse student majoring in risk management and insurance at EKU. The student must be a Kentucky resident, have demonstrated financial need, maintain a 2.5 GPA each academic period, be working toward a four-year degree and have demonstrated leadership through community and extracurricular involvement. Renewal scholarships may be provided for up to three additional years for students who remain enrolled full-time at the university and continue to meet the set criteria. 

“The scholarship makes what might otherwise only be a dream for some students – affording a college education – much more attainable,” said Dr. Lisa Gardner, professor and director of EKU’s risk management and insurance program. “The scholarship recipient will also have the chance to connect with a great Kentucky company, KEMI, an organization that does so much for many businesses in our state by insuring their workers’ compensation risks.”

The new scholarship strengthens an already well-established partnership between EKU and KEMI. Gardner said KEMI recruits and employs graduates from EKU, and a KEMI senior executive serves on EKU’s Risk Management and Insurance Advisory Board. 

“We want to be the leading supplier of talent to Kentucky’s insurance industry,” Gardner said. “Like the population that it serves, the industry’s employees should be diverse. We know that we can make that happen through partnerships like this one with KEMI.”

EKU’s nationally ranked risk management and insurance program prepares graduates to work in many different aspects of insurance, from serving customers to management and leadership roles.