Celebrate students’ legacy of service
For 20 years, a cadre of students at our colleges have been working to make the world a better place, thanks to the support of the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. These former scholars — and the current crop — will gather next month to mark the milestone and share how they continue to serve their communities.
The Phillips Scholars program has had a lot of impact in the community over these 20 years. The 113 scholars who have been selected since the program began each designed and implemented a community service project that solves real-world problems. Project themes have ranged from teen pregnancy prevention to literacy to healthy eating to leadership development.
Phillips Scholars receive up to $12,000 in scholarships during their junior and senior years, along with a $4,000 summer stipend, and $500 award to support their project. This generous support not only helps the scholars fund their educations, but it builds a legacy of community service.
Here are three examples of the projects undertaken by Phillips Scholars in summer 2014:
Mackenzie Lindquist, Concordia College ‘15, developed an English program for refugee adults living in Moorhead that introduced these new Americans to their community. More importantly, it connected them to each other to counter some of the isolation they sometimes feel.
Lindquist, a Hopkins, Minnesota native, worked with local agencies to spread the word about her program and meet participants. “My goal was to get adults out of the house. So often many just go to work and then back home. These social outings are for the whole family and often kids come along as well. It is an opportunity for participants to ask questions and even learn basic things like where to sign up for swim lessons, how to use the library and how to take the bus,” Lindquist said.
Her program was not without its challenges. “My first week, I had no participants; I was so disappointed. So I started spending time in the adult basic education building and at other service agencies meeting people. Then we got new participants every day.”
“The biggest thing I learned this summer was how to take an idea and put it into action. If I can do this, I really can do anything,” Lindquist said.
For her project, May Yang, Concordia University, St. Paul ’15, was moved to create a water safety program for Hmong children. “I heard of so many drowning incidents affecting the Hmong community that I wanted to bring awareness to both parents and children,” she said.
Yang worked with the Oxford Community Center in St. Paul to deliver weekly classes and swim lessons. “My goal was to make sure both kids and their parents attended the lessons. I wanted the parents there to support their kids and to understand water safety as well,” she said.
On the first day of lessons, participants were evaluated and placed in appropriate swim lesson levels. Results came quickly. “It made me really proud to see big improvements. Kids were remembering what they learned in water safety class and putting it into action in the pool. They were so proud of themselves as well.”
Yang, an Accounting major with a business emphasis, really enjoyed doing her part to help the community. “Being a Phillips Scholar has shown me that I can be successful and surpass challenges as long as I have passion.”
Encouraging healthy eating
Tori Ostenso, Carleton College ’15, had a mission to share local food resources with the Latino and Somali immigrant communities in Rice County. The Ladysmith, Wisconsin native worked with local farmers to provide fresh produce at reduced rates at mobile vegetable stands in various parks. “We encouraged families to fill up a bag for $5. We also did cooking demonstrations to show how easy it is to create healthy meals and snacks with produce — some of it unknown to these populations,” she said.
Ostenso’s project also provided cooking lessons at a summer enrichment program in Northfield and at neighborhood programs in two mobile park neighborhoods in Faribault. “The kids always wanted to make ice cream or pizza, but we challenged them to eat fruits and vegetables,” she said. “It was great to see the kids start making more nutritional choices.”
An American Studies major, Ostenso fully credited the Phillips scholarship and the other funding sources for this project. “I got to do something that I am passionate about. And with the infrastructure and support from the Phillips Scholars program and other community organizations, this program could last into the future,” she said. “I am really excited to show people what can happen in just one summer and how much we can grow.”