Concordia Students Awarded Eddie Phillips Scholarship for African American Men

(Photo: A fall retreat for Eddie Phillips Scholars from several Minnesota private colleges)

Three Concordia College students have been selected to receive this year's Eddie Phillips Scholarship for African American Men, a program created and coordinated by the Minnesota Private College Fund. It is designed to help students launch their careers after graduation.

The 2022-24 cohort is made up of 19 students from eight participating Minnesota institutions. Two Concordia students are in the 2021-23 cohort. 

In addition to scholarship funds over their junior and senior years, the students receive valuable experiences, including advising, mentoring, and leadership development opportunities. They participate in internships, attend a national conference, and network with local African American leaders.

Students doing stretches at a Fall retreatPatrick Smith ’24, a psychology major from Mapleton, N.D., says the program includes a lot of team-based activities, including a camping outing. The events focus on communication, building personal strengths, and learning from weaknesses.

“This scholarship has opened many doors for me that would have been a lot harder to open without the resources and the connections this program has given me,” Smith said. “I think my favorite aspect is how they make us as scholars feel important. They do their best to find options that are right for you. They go out of their way to find websites, people, internships, or jobs, as we strive for our profession.”

Demetrius Turrentine ‘24, an exercise science major from Chicago, enjoyed the summer classes he and his cohort traveled to Minneapolis to attend with the other program members.

“There was a lot of discussion and critical thinking, trying to understand the problems around the world and kind of tackle them,” Turrentine said. “It was a really interesting thing to be a part of — being a black man in a class full of young black men — that’s very uncommon in this area.”

Over the program’s two years, the participants are in regular contact with Dr. Abdul Omari, a leadership and mentoring consultant who coordinates the program.

“Young college students are faced with numerous barriers on a given day,” Omari said. “Success requires a level of personal commitment and hard work coupled with external support. This program requires the first from scholars and assists with the second.”

The scholarship is funded by The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota in honor of Eddie Phillips, a successful businessman and philanthropist in the Twin Cities who had a legacy of supporting men of color. His son, Congressman Dean Phillips, says Eddie Phillips was a “passionate believer in the transformative power of higher education” who invested “time and treasure to expand opportunity to as many as possible during his lifetime.”

Smith noted the program takes a lot of work and determination but added he is happy he is able to be part of it.

“These people are amazing, and they do a great job of wanting to do what is best for you and your goals,” Smith said.