CILCE Corner: Spotlight shines on our Phillips Scholars.

The Phillips Scholarship is awarded annually to six students from Minnesota’s private colleges and universities who have excellent academic standing and a demonstrated interest in community service. Each year CILCE in coordination with the Financial Aid office nominates one UST student to compete against nominees from 16 other schools for one of the awards.

Mitch Hinnenkamp

Mitch Hinnenkamp

This December, the UST Phillips Scholarship Committee selected Mitch Hinnenkamp as our university’s candidate for the 2012 scholarship. Mitch is in the process of revising his application for the statewide selection process, which will take place this spring. His proposal, the Youth Empowerment Project, aims to promote self-confidence and address bullying issues with youth between the ages of 9 and 12. He plans to partner with the St. Cloud YMCA for an eight-week program that will include speakers, games and learning activities – the highlight of which will be creating public service announcements at the end of each week.

Mitch loves the continuity behind the Phillips Scholarship. He was impressed that “the scholarship rewards previous behavior but also funds future behavior.” To him, helping in the community is a way of life: “It’s more than just receiving money. It’s actually implementing the process and what the scholarship is all about.” He hopes to create a lasting impression with his program. Not only will they have the PSAs as a takeaway from their experience, he knows there will be more: “If you teach young adults a way of living socially and mentally, they will teach others by example.”

Bryant Ortega, our 2010 Phillips Scholar senior, completed his service project this past summer.

He developed Project HOPE (Health Offers People Enlightenment) to incorporate into Project for Pride in Living SEED Camp, a summer day camp for children ages 5 to 11 held at the Bethlehem Community Center in Minneapolis. Through Project HOPE, Bryant aimed to give youth from lower-income families the “chance to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Bryant volunteered at SEED Camp from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, spending at least one hour a day focusing on living a healthy lifestyle. He taught groups of students about nutritional information, led cooking classes and made fruit smoothies, which many students enjoyed. (Bryant said it was “the highlight of their summer.”)

“Nutrition is my passion,” Bryant said. A Los Angeles native, he volunteered with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy in high school, which inspired him to create Project HOPE. His favorite part of the summer was “seeing the slow transformation of the youth.” He related a story about a boy in his program: When the group was making pizzas, he kept picking off all of the vegetables. After Bryant encouraged him to try a piece with a bell pepper on it, the boy was surprised and said, “Hey! This is good! I like bell peppers on my pizza!”

Amanda McNaughton

Amanda McNaughton has been developing a Skills for School program for the East Metro Women's Council, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for the homeless and low-income families.

“I could relate and help them,” Ortega said. “I was able to give them what I had growing up.”

Amanda McNaughton, our 2011 Phillips Scholar, is gearing up to do her service project this summer. A Mahtomedi native, she will work with an organization close to home. She began volunteering at East Metro Women’s Council (EMWC) in White Bear Lake the summer after her freshman year. EMWC is a nonprofit organization that provides resources such as housing, child care and classes for homeless and low-income families. She continued working with the council into the fall of her sophomore year when she learned about the Phillips Scholarship.

For her service project, Amanda has been developing the Skills for School program for EMWC. She will lead approximately 35 3- to 6-year-olds and their moms in an interactive classroom setting to help them prepare for kindergarten. Amanda hopes to work with them on learning activities and social skills, while allowing mothers to have more one-on-one time with their children.

When I asked Amanda if she had any advice for students who hope to follow in her footsteps, she stressed the importance of finding your talents and thinking locally. “Find what you’re good at and start looking in your community. Once you see the need and find an organization that fits, [that connection] never goes away.” Amanda has been preparing for Skills for Schools all year. The program will open its doors this May.

The CILCE staff is immensely proud to be involved in the Phillips Scholarship process. If you will be a sophomore during the 2012-13 academic year and would like to learn more about this opportunity, contact program director Katie Hunt, (651) 962-6801.