When finance and environmental studies student Alex Murray and the KU Beekeeping Club he co-founded launched their first two hives in April, it was the culmination of months of work.
Murray always had an interest in bees, but it wasn’t until his parents moved to Lawrence during his sophomore year that his curiosity took flight. He learned that his neighbors kept bees and went to learn more with another interested friend. They were hooked and spent time learning the ropes, posting about their experience on Instagram.
“We started to get this steady rotation of people who were coming out with us to the hives,” Murray said. “Eventually we thought, ‘we should just start an organization.’”
The KU Beekeeping Club launched in early 2019 and has already attracted a considerable following. In addition to getting KU students interested and involved in beekeeping, Murray explained that the organization also aims to help educate elementary, middle and high school students about beekeeping and ecology.
“My line is beekeeping is 10 times easier than you think it is and 100 times more rewarding,” he said. “It’s something that you really don’t have the chance to do unless you’re in college. That’s one of the great things about KU: There are so many opportunities to do stuff you would never get to do otherwise, and this is definitely right up that alley.”
The club is just one of the ways Murray is working to make a difference at KU. He’s been involved in the Business Leadership Program, helped launch business student organization NetImpact, works at the Dole Institute of Politics and serves as a member of the Student Environmental Advisory Board. Additionally, Murray has lent his time and talent to a voter technology company in New York to increase voter accessibility and a local congressional campaign.
All of his involvement led KU to nominate Murray in April for the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, which recognizes students who demonstrate leadership, public service and commitment in the fields of tribal public policy, Native health care or the environment. In October, the university also endorsed his applications for the Mitchell, Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships.
Murray learned in late November that he will receive the Mitchell Scholarship, which provides funding for one year of study in Ireland. He is the second student from KU to earn the scholarship. Murray will study Renewable Energy and Environmental Finance at University College Dublin.
“One of my motivations for being here at KU and getting the degrees that I want to is to have a career that can help address things like climate change and improve sustainability for companies and organizations,” he said.
Because money is a crucial factor when it comes to creating change, he decided to focus on finance as well as environmental studies.
“I think developing a really clear understanding of both of those worlds is really important to be able to make anything move forward,” he explained, adding, “Inevitably, this is the kind of stuff we’ll have to address one way or the other as a society or as a company. We can’t ignore it — at some point, every company needs to face these questions: How do we interact with our environment? How do we improve our impact? How do we create our business to best manage the world that we live in?
“I do believe there’s going to be a really huge demand for people who can walk both spaces and know what they’re talking about, so that’s how I want to position myself today for the future, and I’m really excited.”
This story originally was published in April 2019 and was updated in November 2019 to reflect Murray’s honor as a George J. Mitchell Scholar.
Photos ©2019 University of Kansas/Marketing Communications/Meg Kumin