Leadership, passion lead to legacy

4/2/2018

Kevin H. McKervey Memorial Scholarship invests in the next generation

McKervey Scholarship
Trudy Thornsberry, Vice President of Operations, Clayton & McKervey (left); Simona Enache, scholarship recipient; Robert Dutkiewicz, President, Clayton McKervey

Kevin McKervey (‘77 B.B.A.) was a man of purpose and direction. He grew up in a blue collar family, attending community college before transferring to UM-Dearborn. From the very beginning, he wanted to make an impact, leave a mark. In 1990 Kevin joined Clayton & McKervey, a global tax and accounting firm in Southfield known for its reputation and strong presence in the international marketplace. Rising to the position of president and managing shareholder in 2012, McKervey also served on the UM-Dearborn College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and wrote expert columns and regularly spoke on international business topics. His larger-than-life personality was full of passion for his firm, his clients and the people around him. Sadly, that all came to an end when he suddenly passed away in 2016.

“He was visionary,” says Trudy Thornsberry, Vice President of Operations at Clayton & McKervey. “He would look into the future and say, 'This is where we have to be.' He could see beyond the challenges and roadblocks, always keeping the end goal in mind."

He never forgot that the hard work and passion he had could be used to help others. When you spoke or worked with him, you knew your thoughts mattered. He helped establish four core values at Clayton & McKervey - fun, can-do attitude, performance and a passion to help others succeed, and these values, coupled with his leadership, helped the firm continue on after he was gone. The last one, passion to help others succeed, has even taken on a life of its own.

“Kevin talked with those at UM-Dearborn about creating a scholarship,” Thornsberry says. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to complete that task, so his friends, along with his clients and colleagues, assumed the mantle, establishing the Kevin H. McKervey Memorial Scholarship at the UM-Dearborn College of Business.

“Our hopes were to keep Kevin’s legacy alive. We know how important UM-Dearborn was to him, how deeply he cared about education and people making their lives better,” she says. In the end, it was easy to get clients to participate. Kevin’s passion and inspiration were still at work.

The first recipient is Simona Enache. Born in Bucharest, Enache moved to the United States when she was 17. The youngest of seven children, she is the first to go to college, a dream come true for her mother. She has struggled over the past five years to balance work, school and life, and scholarships like the Kevin H. McKervey Memorial Scholarship help her toward her end goal. Once she graduates at the end of 2018, Enache hopes to gain some experience in accounting and work toward her future.

“My long-term goal, and my dream besides graduating from college, is to be a small-business owner,” she says. “Whether that will be attainable, time will tell. But surely, I didn’t think I would be going to college either.”

Thornsberry says that McKervey always had respect for working students, seeing them as people who succeed in making their lives and the lives around them better. To that end, recipients must be employed at least part time and working toward their first career. Thornsberry and Clayton & McKervey’s president Rob Dutkiewicz recently met Enache to congratulate her on her scholarship award.

“She was delightful, very hard working,” says Thornsberry. “I remember thinking, ‘Kevin would be very pleased with this choice.’”

With all that McKervey gave to the world, he never saw himself above others. When he received the Alumnus of the Year award in 2012, they played a video of Kevin’s accomplishments at the Difference Makers Awards Ceremony.  Thornsberry recalls Kevin being very humbled by this, and suspects he never knew the impact he had made. 

“He was a great mentor. A great leader,” she says. “Working with Kevin, we knew what an impactful person he was, but I don’t think he did.”

Through the leadership, compassion and vision he pursued in life, Kevin McKervey will continue to have an impact for years to come.