The 2020 Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Foundation Lifelong Learning Scholarship Recipients

Benjamin Brake

Benjamin Brake of Wichita Collegiate High School is one of two recipients of the 2020 Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Lifelong Learning Scholarship.

His parents are Joyann and Daniel Brake, and he has two younger sisters, Sophia and Natalie, and one older brother, Aaron.

Benjamin plans to use this scholarship and his education to help others.  “Ideally, I’d like to find something I’m good at and proficient in to serve our community and do something meaningful,” he said.

Right now, Benjamin thinks the way to turn that dream into a reality is through a career in the law.  His interest in the law, especially at the international level, began after his work tutoring refugee students through his school’s International Rescue Committee.

Benjamin said helping students learn grammar and math, especially those who are simultaneously learning English, is an experience that will stay with him long after high-school is complete.  “Seeing kids my age in different circumstances made me appreciate the need for education,” he said.

Benjamin’s list of school and community engagements is a long one.  When he balances everything from playing saxophone in jazz band to serving as Honor Council class representative, and even performing in Wichita ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Benjamin understands the importance of prioritization and balance.  “As academics get harder, you’ve got to focus on quality over quantity,” he said.  Volunteerism, music, athleticism, weightlifting and debate rise to the top of his priority list.  He also excels in Latin language studies, which he has studied for five years.

Benjamin’s selection for an internship with the Department of Justice for the District of Kansas in Wichita increased his desire to become a lawyer and help others.

“Seeing attorneys in action, especially at the federal level—something about that process they went through validated in my mind that it’s something I could do and wanted to do,” he said.

Benjamin has not yet chosen where he will attend University next year, but plans to attend a school that is consistent with his goal of earning of a well-rounded education with international academic opportunities.  “At the end of the day, I want to keep learning more and more in college, not just plan for the job, specifically,” he said.

One of Timothy’s values particularly resonated with Benjamin: integrity.  He recalls reading one of Timothy’s high school papers, “The Good Life,” and contemplating his message.  “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,” he said. “That definitely stood out to me.”

Amanda Phanivong

Amanda Phanivong of Campus High School is one of two recipients of the 2020 Timothy P. O’Shaughnessy Lifelong Learning Scholarship.

Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, Amanda has lived in Wichita for six years with her parents, Ana and Alex Phanivong, and her younger sister, Alina.

Amanda plans to utilize her scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene with a minor emphasis in marketing, earn her master’s degree in dental hygiene, and obtain her real estate license.  Amanda will begin her studies in fall 2020, close to home at Wichita State University.

Her interest in dental hygiene began during her dental internship at a dental office in Wichita.  She loved getting to meet and learn about so many different people.  “When they come to the dentist, it’s about more than getting teeth cleaned,” she said.  “We get to learn about their passions and outlooks for the future.”

This interest in dentistry grew through her personal experiences.  Amanda’s grandparents had difficulty affording dental care in their home country of Laos.  She wanted to address this problem for others who may not be able to access the care they need.

Although Amanda maintained deep involvement in many extracurricular activities at her school, she learned most from her service on student council.  “I’ve gotten to develop a lot as a leader and person in my school and community.”

She helped other students learn about finance through her internship at the “mini branch” of Valley State Bank in her school.  There, Amanda learned business skills, including skills that go beyond dollars and cents, such as customer service.  “It has taught me that gratitude is a way of communication,” she said.  Amanda particularly enjoyed teaching younger students about taking ownership of their finances through a monthly presentation put on by the internship program.

Amanda plans to continue seizing opportunities that come her way, reflecting often on the values that Timothy himself emulated.  Timothy’s striking leadership ability particularly stood out to Amanda.  “For Timothy, leadership was visible when he was at work or at home with his family,” she said.

As an inaugural scholar, Amanda hopes to represent the foundation by encouraging other students to follow their own path.  “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.