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Five students and five alumni, including (from left) Laura Kimes and Marvin Smith, both '15, and Paul Cheng '03, were named 2015 Youn Impact Scholars.

2015 Youn Impact Scholars

Kellogg announces 2015 Youn Impact Scholars

First two classes to meet this year to discuss opportunities for social change

By Andrea Mustain

2/11/2015 - Tree farms that bring green space, jobs, and new hope to American towns in the grip of post-industrial decay; investments that help small businesses thrive in the face of withering conditions: these are just a few of several forward-thinking projects being implemented by this year's cohort of Youn Impact Scholars.

The program, in its second year, honors students and alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to becoming leaders in social impact in any chosen field, says Elizabeth Coston, Kellogg's manager of social innovation. “We're agnostic about whether they're going into nonprofit, corporate, government, education — they are committed to somehow having a positive impact on society or within their organization,” Coston says.

Time to meet

This year's five student and five alumni honorees will meet with last year’s class of nine scholars later this year, at the first biennial Youn Impact Scholars meeting. Having the opportunity to connect with a growing network of like-minded peers is the most coveted aspect of winning, say student and alumni winners alike.

Nicole Chavas ’15, who developed the tree farms idea along with fellow scholar Laura Kimes ’15 and is launching two pilot farms in May, pointed to “the chance to maintain that link with Kellogg, and with others who share the same passion and ideals I do from a business perspective,” as the greatest reward.

‘What can I do?’

Students must apply for the program, but alumni are also nominated. Paul Cheng '03, one of this year's alumni scholars, says he was honored to be selected. “Honored, and humbled by the other alumni who are nominated as well,” says Cheng, chair and founder of SharedImpact, an impact investing firm that enables tax efficiency for international and cross-border philanthropy. “There is some very significant work being done by Kellogg alums in this space.”

Indeed, the desire to use business to promote positive social change is what drew newly minted Youn scholar Alexandra Korijn ’15 to Kellogg in the first place. From a young age Korijn was struck by the reality of poverty all over the world. Real change seemed out of reach, in the face of such dire needs. “I always wondered, ‘What can I do to make a big difference on a large scale?’” Korijn saw an MBA as a launchpad.

Here is the full list of this year's Youn Impact Scholars:


  • Nicole Chavas ’15 
  • Laura Kimes ’15 
  • Alexandra Korijn ’15 
  • Thiago Pinto ’15 
  • Marvin Smith ’15

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