Barry McNamara  |   Published August 18, 2022

New Fund with the Assist

Walker ’23 is first to benefit from Yahnke Endowed Internship Fund that helps support student career goals.

FUND MADE IMPACT: Gayle Walker, shown with the baseball diamond at Impact Field in the background... FUND MADE IMPACT: Gayle Walker, shown with the baseball diamond at Impact Field in the background, was able to work for the Chicago Dogs this summer thanks to a financial assist from the College's new endowed internship fund, established by alumnus and longtime Board of Trustees member Dick Yahnke '66 and his wife, Lee. Photo by Meredith Cavaleri.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College student Gayle Walker ’23 of Newark, Illinois, got to spend her summer days and nights at the ballpark while building her résumé, thanks to a new internship program funded by a Monmouth alumnus and his wife.

In the spring, Walker, a business administration major with a minor in communication studies, received a summer internship offer from the Chicago Dogs, a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.

The only problem: it was an unpaid internship with inconsistent hours. But thanks to Monmouth’s new Yahnke Business and Economics Endowed Internship Fund, Walker was able to benefit from the internship and work toward her goal of landing a job in the sports industry when she graduates in May.

GAYLE WALKER: Rising Monmouth senior mingles amongst the crowd at a Chicago Dogs home game this s... GAYLE WALKER: Rising Monmouth senior mingles amongst the crowd at a Chicago Dogs home game this summer. Photo by Meredith Cavaleri.Walker interned for the Dogs from mid-May until early August. She’d arrive at the Dogs’ Impact Field five to six hours before home games to handle a variety of important tasks, including making sure the stadium was spotless, especially the premier suites and the party deck. She’d print will-call tickets and other tickets, place chairs, and prepare giveaway items.

“During the game, I’d make sure things were running smoothly on the party deck,” said Walker.

Occasionally, she had a more physically demanding in-game assignment.

“When it rained, I was part of the tarp crew,” she said. “I did that a lot. And sometimes we had to come in at 7 a.m. and remove the tarp that we’d rolled out the night before.”

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this internship if it weren’t for the Yahnkes’ gift.” Gayle Walker

Monmouth students are wise enough to know that they need to save for a rainy day. The Yahnke Business and Economics Endowed Internship Fund adds another source of funding for when times get tough, and Walker appreciates it.

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this internship if it weren’t for the Yahnkes’ gift,” she said.

Opening doors for students

A business major at Monmouth, Dick Yahnke ’66 held a variety of management experiences in numerous marketing and manufacturing locations for Deere & Co., including an assignment as marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand. He retired in 2006 as vice president of worldwide agricultural parts marketing.

With his wife, Lee, Yahnke created the internship endowment earlier this year, gearing it toward students who want an internship but also help to make the experience a reality.

“An endowment for business internships will provide funding and accessibility for more students who simply could not consider an internship due to their financial limitations,” said Yahnke, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees for 25 years.

Cashing in on new opportunity

Walker learned about the Yahnke Business and Economics Endowed Internship Fund thanks to another Monmouth connection – a notice from one of her business professors, Mike Connell.

“The last week of school, Professor Connell sent out an email to the whole business department about the scholarship,” said Walker. “It said that anyone interested in it should contact Marnie Dugan (’95, director of the College’s Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership and Fellowships). I did, and the next day, I was in her office, filling out a funding request form about why the scholarship would be beneficial to me.”

“It was an unpaid internship, and my hours were so consistent that I didn’t have time to find another job to make money to cover my travel expenses.” Gayle Walker

Walker’s request came down to two reasons – she would be working for peanuts (or perhaps hot dogs), and she’d have a regular, lengthy drive to get to Impact Field, which is near O’Hare International Airport. Even though Newark is just a few miles beyond the edge of the Chicago suburbs, Impact Field was still a one-hour, one-way commute, a drive Walker often made five times a week.

“It was an unpaid internship, and my hours were so consistent that I didn’t have time to find another job to make money to cover my travel expenses,” said Walker who, like the rest of us, was paying more than $5 per gallon to fill her car.

Dugan said the Monmouth community appreciates the doors the Yahnke Business and Economics Endowed Internship Fund will open to students.

“We’re very thankful for the Yahnkes’ gift and how it will benefit our business and economics students,” she said. “We’re excited that Gayle was the first recipient and that she had an internship experience that moves her closer to her career goals. We look forward to connecting more students with the Yahnke scholarship in the future.”

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