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St. Kate's student receives prestigious Phillips scholarship

Safia Hirsi ’16 was recently selected to receive the prestigious Phillips Scholarship.
Safia Hirsi ’16 was recently selected to receive the prestigious Phillips Scholarship.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Private College Council

Safia Hirsi ’16, a chemistry and public health double major, was recently selected as one of six Minnesota private college students to receive the prestigious $16,500 Phillips Scholarship award.

Hirsi’s winning proposal entitled “Noorka Oo Cilimca: The Glow of Knowledge” aims to provide a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) summer camp opportunity for young Somali girls attending Best Academy East in North Minneapolis. At the camp, the girls will explore science with the help and support of fellow Somali mentors. The project is intended to create an atmosphere of cultural understanding and learning while strengthening the bridge to higher education in STEM fields for Somali women.

As a young Somali woman who was raised in Minnesota, the project is a deeply personal one for Hirsi.

“With nearly every career path or dream a young Somali girl may have, there are no Somali role models. I felt it was important to not only show young girls what is possible but also encourage them to pursue their dreams. I specifically chose to focus on STEM because it is a dream and passion of mine,” she explains.

While she was hopeful about being selected a Phillips Scholar, Hirsi didn't hold her breath — and even resolved that she had not won — which made the news all the more exciting.

“Honestly, it was really shocking! Even after I was notified that I had been selected, it wasn’t until the winners of the Phillips scholarship were announced that the news sunk in,” she says.

The competitively selected Phillips Scholars are eligible to receive a $6,000 junior-year scholarship, a $4,000 summer award to support the development and implementation of a self-designed service project to address unmet needs in Minnesota communities, $500 from the project resource funding and a $6,000 senior-year scholarship contingent on the successful completion of the summer project.

Students from St. Catherine University have been named Phillips Scholars nine out of the last 14 years.

The Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women facilitates the annual process of selecting a finalist from St. Kate’s who'll compete for the Phillips Scholarship. May 2017 graduates are invited to apply in fall semester 2014. More information about eligibility criteria, visit the Center for Women’s website.

More about the Phillips Scholars Program:

The Phillips Scholars Program recognizes and rewards private college students who strive to make life better for people with unmet needs in Minnesota communities. Phillips Scholars identify community concerns, explore ways to create social change, and develop ambitious programs that would meet various needs of communities.  The program is funded through a generous gift from the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota honors the legacy of its founders by supporting efforts that address the unmet human and social needs of individuals, families and communities that have the least access to resources.

Related content:

Summer work for two students mean building community” (Minnesota Private College Council August 2013 newsletter)

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June 5, 2014 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Education, Leadership, Liberal Arts, Social Justice, STEM, Students