The Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Foundation is pleased to announce Benjamin Brake of Wichita Collegiate High School, and Amanda Phanivong of Campus High School as the inaugural class of Lifelong Learning Scholars. Both of these students will receive up to $100,000 over the next ten years to pursue their educational goals.
In Memory of Timothy
Clare Blasi, Foundation President, says the Lifelong Learning Scholarship is designed to do more than pay for four years of college tuition; it encourages a lifetime full of educational pursuits, far beyond a bachelor’s degree.
“We want to make sure scholars are using this for other avenues of learning, such as getting a pilot’s license, or getting a master’s in something, or going to law school,” Blasi said.
And there’s a reason she mentioned a pilot’s license. The Foundation was created in memory of Timothy O’Shaughnessy, a Wichita native whose passion for life and learning took him to Universities in China where he became fluent in Mandarin, to remote South America to work at a start-up oil company, to master sailing, and even become a pilot.
Blasi, who is also Timothy’s older sister, said a scholarship program that promotes a life full of learning is the best way for her family to honor a man who was curious, adventurous, and a stranger to few. “We wanted to provide other students the opportunity that Timothy had growing up, and continue a lifelong learning experience. He didn’t just go four years, he continued learning and didn’t stop,” Blasi said.
Aside from being one of just handful of private scholarships of $100,000 or more in the country, there’s something else unique about the Lifelong Learning Scholarship—it’s exclusively available to high-school seniors at a Wichita-area schools.
School counselors from twenty-six Wichita-area high schools are invited to nominate two students from their school for consideration for the scholarship. Nominees must meet certain achedemic requirements, be leaders in their schools and communities, and demonstrate a passion for learning. The Foundation Board seeks scholars who embody qualities that Timothy possessed, such as integrity, humility, a worldly interest in language, and compassion.
The first-ever Lifelong Learning Scholars from the class of 2020 set the bar high. Benjamin Brake of Wichita Collegiate and Amanda Phanivong of Campus High School plan to use their scholarships to earn an education in order to better serve others.
Brake, who volunteered to teach refugee students math and science, plans to study international relations to continue to help others in a worldly capacity in the future. Though his accolades range from excellence in study of Latin to Honor Council Class President to saxophone performance and beyond, he is particularly interested in the law. Following his internship with the Department of Justice for the District of Kansas in Wichita, Ben plans to become a lawyer to help others in a big way.
“Seeing attorneys in action, especially at the federal level—something about that process they went through validated in my mind that’s something I could do and wanted to do,” he said.
Phanivong sees a different path for herself, but one that also embraces the challenges, passion, and service that this scholarship is intended to promote. She plans to attend Wichita State University in fall 2020 to study dental hygiene with a minor in marketing. Phanivong also plans to earn her master’s degree in dental hygiene and her real estate license.
She’s already demonstrated her business savvy through her internship with Valley State Bank, which included giving monthly finance presentations to younger students at her school. And, she has a jump start on her dental career with an internship at a Wichita-area dental office.
Dentistry, she says, is a vehicle to something bigger. “When people come to the dentist, it’s about more than getting their teeth cleaned,” Phanivong said. “We get to learn about their passions and outlooks for the future.”
Setup for Success
Foundation President Blasi said Brake and Phanivong are totally different from one another in terms of dreams and plans. That’s why it is so exciting to see that they both emulate qualities that Timothy possessed in their own ways. “When it becomes their turn, they can help other students behind them,” she said. “We’d like to give them anything that might help them get through the process and help them grow.”
Chris Ashbrook, Head of Upper School at Wichita Collegiate, was part of the team that chose Brake as a nominee from his school. Ashbrook said he doesn’t know yet where Brake will end up, but whatever he does, it will be meaningful, and it will help others.
“He is truly a humble servant. He’s not a leader because he thinks he needs to be a leader. He is a leader because he is so genuine in his approach to everything he does. You can’t help but emulate him,” Ashbrook said.
Phanivong’s school counselor expressed similar sentiments about her own bright future ahead. Mardy Moree, College and Career Readiness Counselor at Campus High School, said Phanivong’s compassion for others and willingness to always give her best will take her far.
“Her heart is all about helping people,” Moree said. “This scholarship will allow her some freedom to go beyond what she ever thought was possible.”
Mentors and Mentees
In addition to scholarship dollars, the O’Shaughnessy Foundation Board plans to make mentorship a key part of what will become an ever-growing network of scholars. This vision is well-aligned with the weight Timothy placed on friends and family.
Integrity and Leadership are other values Timothy possessed that guided Brake and Phanivong through their application and interview process for this award.
“The idea of actually being good for the sake of being good, not just doing what’s best for you, but having a set of values and morals and sticking to them,” Brake said. “That definitely stood out to me.”
For Phanivong, Timothy’s leadership skills are particularly inspiring. Leadership skills of her own already shine through in her advice to others: “It’s okay to not know what path you want to choose and remember you shouldn’t be focused on wanting to walk someone else’s path but be focused on paving your own path and setting a vision for what you want to accomplish in life,” she said.
A Competitive Field of Candidates
The search to find the first Lifelong Learning scholars was not an easy one, as each candidate in the field of nominees is gifted and competitive.
Three finalists received generous one-time scholarships: Michelle Kha of Campus High School, Kameryn Overton of Wichita Northeast Magnet School, and Jordan Tran of Maize South High School.
Semi-finalists were Kennedy Compton of Wichita East High School, Olivia Haas of Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School, Teresa Mainzer of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Riley Ranzau of Valley Center High School, and Kelsey Wilson of Trinity Academy.
The Board would also like to recognize each of this year’s nominees:
- Ileyna Avelar, Wichita Northwest High School
- Natalie Brant, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School
- Koby Burdett, Goddard High School
- Daija Chamoff, Wichita Northwest High School
- Taylor Clary, Goddard High School
- Brandon Cope, Independent School
- Kyra Cornelson, Andover High School
- Kate Cruz, Wichita West High School
- Gus Denneler, Wichita Heights High School
- Kayli Duncan, Circle High School
- Victoria George, Independent School
- Ammeriahya Gonzalez, Wichita East High School
- Kellen Hagans, Wichita Magnet School
- Alycia Haynes, Wichita Southeast High School
- Bayan Hudeib, Wichita North High School
- Carl Jacobsen, Eisenhower High School
- Asher Khokhar, Sunrise Christian Academy
- Jessica Klein, Sunrise Christian Academy
- Olivia Leherman, Wichita Heights High School
- Dominic LiCastro, Eisenhower High School
- Kylie Litavniks, Andover Central High School
- Casey Loving, Maize High School
- Sana Mahomed, Wichita Collegiate
- Camden McDonald, Life Prepatory Academy
- Preston Means, Maize South High School
- Alexyss Miller, Wichita South High School
- Jordy Mosqueda, Wichita South High School
- Coleman Newby, Life Prepatory Academy
- Haylee Nickel, Derby High School
- Ian Ramerez, Wichita North High School
- Bode Sadd, Valley Center High School
- Jacob Strecker, Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School
- Ondrea Thomas, Wichita West High School
- Adia Tolbert, Wichita Southeast High School
- Brady Weathers, Trinity Academy
- Jordan Weve, Derby High School
- Emma Willour, Circle High School