Kenneth W. Coquillette ’82 & Carrie Melind Coquillette ’82

“The Sophomore Institute really helps students figure out who they are, what they’re good at and what they should be doing after graduation.”

Ken Coquillette likes to tell the story about how so many second-semester seniors phone him at his Goldman Sachs office and say, “‘My parents think I would be a great banker. Can I get an interview?’ Patiently, I tell them, ‘We made our hiring decisions a year ago. You are two to three years late for even having this conversation.’”

Sensing a need for students to start planning their potential careers earlier, Ken and his wife, Carrie, both of whom graduated from DePauw in 1982 as economics majors, donated $2 million to the University in 2013 to launch the Sophomore Institute, a comprehensive one-day event held at the outset of the academic year at the Hubbard Center for Student Engagement. “The Sophomore Institute really helps students figure out who they are, what they’re good at and what they should be doing after graduation,” explains Carrie. “It helps them ask the right questions, take the right classes and really think about their choice of major.”

That type of early engagement made a huge difference for Ken, who enjoyed two extremely constructive internships while at DePauw—one at The First National Bank of Chicago and the other at the Chicago Board of Trade—both sponsored by DePauw alumni. “They gave me a tremendous opportunity to put into practice what I was learning in the classroom,” he recalls, “and at a young age gain valuable experience that served as my foundation for a career in financial services.”

The couple’s gift also has made it possible for DePauw juniors and seniors, known as Coquillette Fellows, to offer peer-to-peer counseling to sophomores in an effort to coordinate their academic, social and cocurricular lives, augmenting the existing advice extended by professional staff at the Hubbard Center.

A member of DePauw’s Board of Trustees, Ken earned his MBA from Indiana University. In 1988, he joined Goldman, Sachs & Co., where he is now a managing director. Carrie worked as a sales executive for AT&T after graduating from DePauw Phi Beta Kappa.

Through the Sophomore Institute, Ken and Carrie hope to help students succeed after DePauw. “It’s imperative that we give students the tools and the opportunities to think about where they want to end up 10 to 20 years after graduation,” notes Carrie. “Our goal is to broaden their perspective and to encourage them to take ownership of their path so that they have options upon graduation.” Their interest has a personal element as well. Their son, Kevin, will graduate from DePauw in 2015.

“What we’re trying to accomplish,” says Ken, “is to get students focused on understanding their skill sets, developing a plan, getting real-life experiences, supplementing their education with internships and connecting with the remarkable network of DePauw alumni.”

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