Academics and Research

Graduating MBA student Mike Kemp needs shelf space for awards

“I’ll miss the people at DU; they are what make this university so excellent,” says Mike Kemp. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Mike Kemp hasn’t officially graduated yet, but he’s already running out of shelf space for all the awards he’s taken home.

Kemp, who earned a dual undergraduate degree last year in international business and economics from the University of Denver and will get his MBA from the Daniels College of Business in June, has won the Daniels Award for Excellence, the Margery Reed Award, the Pioneer Award and the Undergraduate Student of the Year Award—all top-tier University honors.

“These accomplishments mean a lot to me because they were given by people I respect and admire,” Kemp says. “I was extremely touched by all of this support, but I feel these awards really belong to everyone who helped me get here.”

It makes sense he won the awards, given his dedication to the University during his time here. As president of the Undergraduate Business Student Association, he helped create an ambassadors program that arose from students calling for a stronger sense of community.

“We found that students wanted more interaction with different majors and more high-level communication among departments with the faculty and the administration,” Kemp says.

So ambassadors—students nominated by department chairs—began meeting regularly to discuss department events and to talk with business leaders about what students really needed to know before graduating. They also created events at which more than 100 students would attend to socialize with other students of different majors. Plus, the group started the first-ever student-run business publication, the Pioneer Business Review.

“This all happened because of every member of the group,” Kemp says. “I found that if you challenge others, they’ll amaze you with their effort and dedication.”

After that work, he joined the international MBA team to create a global audit to see exactly how international the student experience at DU was—for example, the number of overseas classes and how many students studied abroad.

The report led to DU creating the Office of Globalization.

Leslie Carter, associate director of the Office of Globalization, worked with Kemp on the audit and says Kemp came to her in his freshman year offering to volunteer.

“He just wanted to get as much as possible from his academic experience … and he ended up helping produce the audit which continues as an annual project and is a document that the dean, provost and others use,” Carter says.

Outside of DU, Kemp continued to display his talent during an internship at Newmont Mining, the second largest gold company in the world. There, he joined a business excellence program that worked on continuous improvement projects to validate the financial benefits of various project along with budgeting and forecasting. Later this year he’ll join Newmont full-time to work on similar tasks but with more responsibility for overseeing data integrity, and developing reporting systems.

“I’ll miss the people at DU; they are what make this university so excellent,” Kemp says. But he says the best part of his experience at DU was meeting his fiancée, Alison Bornhoft, who will graduate in June with degrees in Spanish, psychology and education. They’ll be married June 16. “I’m blessed that I get to spend the rest of my life with her,” he says.

The undergraduate Commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 9, at Magness Arena. For more information or to watch a live stream of the ceremony, visit


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