St. Thomas 'Phillips Scholar' is Teaching Youth About Healthy Choices This Summer

Bryant Ortega is creating a positive environment for Minneapolis kids and their families to learn about making healthy choices this summer.

Ortega, a senior at the University of St. Thomas, designed the “Project Hope” program to teach youth about nutrition and physical activity; they will also document their learning through photography.

Ortega, who is from California, is one of six Minnesota private college students chosen to complete a community outreach project as a part of the Phillips Scholars Program.

The Phillips Scholars Program is a competitive scholarship initiative that asks college students to propose and then implement a service project to meet an unmet community need. The funds available to selected students total $16,150 in the form of scholarships and stipends from the Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation.

“The Phillips Scholars Program has been a source of great pride and fulfillment for the Phillips family and the foundation. It provides an opportunity for innovative and adventurous young people to explore work in the nonprofit sector that identifies and addresses real community needs,” said Patrick Troska, executive director of The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. “The tremendous lessons learned from this program prepare scholars for a lifetime of service to their communities.”

In addition to Ortega’s efforts, this summer’s projects address a variety of communities and needs:

• Marcie Flygare is educating both youth and the developmentally disabled in the New Ulm area about heart disease. The goal of the “Healthy Fun at Heart” program is to reduce participants’ chances of a heart attack by teaching them how to make healthier lifestyle choices. Flygare will be a senior at Bethany Lutheran College and is from Winthrop.

• Jacqueline Carlson is providing a youth program focused on leadership and the importance of service in the St. Cloud community.  Carlson is from Ramsey and will be a senior at the College of St. Benedict.

• Irma Márquez Trapero wants youth in grades four through seven in St. James to develop a strong cultural identity and cultural awareness while learning about their educational options. Through “Finding Yourself and Breaking Your Stereotype,” students are exploring who they are and looking to education as a source of possibility in their lives. Márquez Trapero is from St. James and will be a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College.

• Jake Branchaud-Linsk designed a series of workshops to teach high school youth living in St. Paul public housing skills to serve their community. The “Youth Peace Keepers” program is not only teaching teens communication and dispute resolution skills but is helping them demonstrate their learning to younger children. Branchaud-Linsk is from Eagan and will be a senior at Hamline University.

• Marisol Campusano is facilitating summer workshops to educate Hispanic high school girls about higher education options and family planning. She created the “Empowering Young Latino Women” program to encourage young women in Minneapolis to consider the range of opportunities available to them when planning their lives. Campusano will be a senior at Augsburg College and is from Coon Rapids.

While the Phillips Scholarship Program aids students in making change in their communities today, it also fosters in students a lifelong commitment to service and leadership.

“We’ve found that many Phillips Scholars choose to continue their involvement in community and social justice work in their respective career fields, whatever they may be,” said Minnesota Private College Council President Paul Cerkvenik. “The Phillips Scholar experience starts students on a path of lifelong service to their community.”

Since 1994, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation annually has awarded Phillips Scholarships to six students attending any of 16 eligible private colleges and universities in Minnesota. These awards encourage and enable the continuation of Jay and Rose Phillips’ commitment to helping people become self-sufficient. The Minnesota Private College Fund administers the scholarships.

A video about the scholarship program can be seen here.