In high school she would spend hours in her driveway working on her jump shot—even with snow on the pavement. And she would travel two hours from her home in Glenwood Springs, Colo., to practice and play with the Amateur Athletic Union basketball team, the Colorado Heat, to improve her skills.
Her determination on the hardwood was matched in the classroom, where her finely honed time-management skills helped her maintain a perfect grade point average throughout high school—all while she was also involved in three varsity sports and numerous clubs.
At Wheaton, the environmental science major has continued to do the same as a student-athlete.
“Ever since I was little I have had a competitive drive to do the best that I can in whatever I am trying to do,” says Kuhn. “Whether it’s a class or a drill, I want to get the most out of my time by working my hardest.”
Kuhn caught the attention of women’s basketball head coach Melissa Hodgdon, who recalls watching and admiring her energy, hustle and toughness on the court.
“At first I only knew how good Kenzie was as a basketball player; I loved how hard she played. And she had such positive interactions with her teammates. I could tell she was a strong leader,” says Hodgdon. “Later, I learned that she was a straight-A student, which showed her tremendous work ethic off the court.”
In two seasons she has tallied 297 points, 189 rebounds, 159 assists, 68 steals and 52 three-pointers. She also was selected in February to the Capital One All-District women’s basketball team by the College Sports Information Directors of America in New England. Selection is based on academic and athletic performance.
She’s also a Wheaton Athletic Mentor, a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and a lab buddy in Professor Janina Benoit’s “Aqueous Equilibria” course.
And she maintains a perfect grade point average. It’s a great accomplishment, given her balancing act as a student-athlete, yet she remains grounded about it.
“I am pretty realistic,” she says. “I know that I will take some challenging classes in my time here at Wheaton, so I just try to work my hardest. So far that has resulted in a 4.0.”
She is majoring in environmental science because of her love for the outdoors and admiration for her father’s work with the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “I’ve always liked science and I can get a deeper understanding of the world around me from my classes. I love seeing something in nature or watching any process and knowing how it works,” says Kuhn.
Last summer, she interned with Professor Matthew Evans, assisting him with two projects, one funded by NASA, the other by the National Science Foundation.
The first project focused on hot spring and river samples from Bhutan, in an attempt to better understand the global carbon cycle; the other concentrated on careful chemical analysis of ice core segments from Antarctica as part of a project to examine glacier–sea ice dynamics and climate change.
“Kenzie was great to work with and she’s funny. I’ve never seen her stressed or down. Her positive attitude is amazing,” Evans says. “She certainly came into the project a little shy, mostly just trying to get a feel for the work and how things would run, but by the end she was a much more confident researcher.”
How does she manage it all so well? “I keep a weekly planner that has everything for the upcoming week scheduled in it,” she says, “and I make a lot of large ‘to-do’ lists.”