UNCF Koch Scholar Sets his Sights on Wichita’s Commercial Real Estate Market

Marshall Johnson says UNCF Koch Scholars program is true to its word: It creates opportunity.

And he wants to keep it that way by changing the landscape of his hometown through a future career in commercial real estate.

Johnson is a graduate of Wichita Northwest High School and a UNCF Koch Scholar at Wichita State University, where he is now pursuing a double major in real estate finance and economics.

Johnson said Thursday at the 2nd Annual UNCF Wichita Mayor’s Luncheon that his is an educational journey that might not be possible without the $20,000 scholarship he received as part of Wichita-based Koch Industries’ continued support of UNCF.

And, if he has his way, he plans to put what he learns at WSU to use right here at home. “I do want to stay in Wichita,” said Johnson, who interned over the summer at NAI Martens. “I love it here. It’s a great city.”

The UNCF Koch Scholars program was launched in 2014 with a $25 million gift from the company to the United Negro College Fund.

One of the highlights of being part of the program, Johnson said, was the opportunity to meet Koch Chairman and CEO Charles Koch. Much to his surprise, Johnson said, he didn’t have to introduce himself, recalling his meeting of the industrialist at a summit of program participants. “He already knew who I was,” Johnson said. “You could tell (the program) means something to him.”

But the biggest highlight, he said during a Q&A session during the Thursday event at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita, was getting to tell his parents he’d been awarded the scholarship. That was in keeping with the theme of the event, which Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell told attendees was about celebrating opportunity.

“It’s not money,” Longwell said of the support UNCF provides students all across the country. “They’re opportunities. (These students) change our collective future.” It’s a collective future that is changed one life at a time, said Suzanne Jenkins, director of corporate and foundation relations at UNCF. “Education can change the course of someone’s life,” she said. “We’re really creating better opportunities and futures for these students.”

And for his part, Johnson said the support of UNCF and companies like Koch that help thousands of students nationwide, makes those statements much more than just lip service.

“It does mean opportunity, truly,” he said.

Daniel McCoy is a reporter with the Wichita Business Journal