St. Olaf College | News

Two St. Olaf students named Phillips Scholars

St. Olaf students Skye Macrae Curtis ’16 (left) and Sebastian Ford ’16 have been named Phillips Scholars.

Two St. Olaf College students have been named Phillips Scholars for 2014–16 in recognition of their commitment to academic excellence and campus leadership.

Skye Macrae Curtis ’16 and Sebastian Ford ’16 were selected for the Phillips Scholarship Program, which supports leaders with outstanding academic credentials who aim to serve their communities.

Each year six students are selected to receive awards totaling $16,500 to complete self-designed service projects over the course of two years.

In order to be eligible for the program, students must develop a proposal for a large-scale community service project that addresses unmet needs in Minnesota and can be implemented during the summer after their junior year.

Ford’s project aims to address the shortage of culturally sensitive male mentors by partnering with two urban youth organizations in the Twin Cities. He hopes to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships within these organizations.

“By improving mentoring relationships and increasing the amount of mentors, I aspire to empower more urban youth to overcome obstacles,” Ford says. “I had the opportunity to have a mentor that provided me with the support necessary to go after my dreams despite coming from a disadvantaged background.”

Ford’s involvement in TRiO’s Student Support Services, a student retention program, gave him the idea of focusing on mentoring programs. This firsthand experience with mentorship, combined with his academic passions involving race and ethnic studies, women and gender studies, and the pre-med track, all inspired Ford to develop his project.

“I am extremely passionate about being more and more culturally competent in all facets of my life,” says Ford. “I aspire to use my work with Phillips in order to improve this skill as I work with a wide variety of youth and adults during my project. In the future, I hope to use my passion to understand individuals in order to provide my future patients with medical care that fits each of their specific needs.”

With her Phillips Scholarship, Curtis will establish a multi-session drama therapy summer day camp for special needs youth in Northfield. The camp, which will be located at the Laura Baker House, aims to use a combination of dramatic arts to build self-efficacy, teach practical life skills, and inspire play.

“Drama therapy is a field that I’ve been drawn to throughout my entire life,” says Curtis. “There’s an overwhelming therapeutic benefit that comes from being creative and playacting. So much agency can be garnered through the theater arts, and that’s one of the central tenets of drama therapy — to use the arts to help others enact psychological, social, and emotional changes within themselves.”

Curtis’s program will build on a similar project started by David James Peterjohn ’13, and will incorporate volunteers from St. Olaf, Carleton College, and Northfield High School.

The Phillips Scholarship Program is made possible by the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, which supports programs that provide solutions in the areas of self-sufficiency, family strengthening, health care, education, independent living for people with disabilities and the elderly, good relations among people of all races and religions, and art as a vehicle to address social issues.