Student receives Phillips Scholarship to help homeless youth

Tatyana Beck '20

Tatyana Beck has been selected as a 2018 recipient of the Phillips Scholarship. This award grants students $16,500 in total scholarship and grant funds to support the student’s academic needs and to conduct a community service project. Beck was one of five Minnesota private college students chosen to receive the award.

Beck’s project proposal, “Empowered to Move Forward,” aims to encourage academic success among young people experiencing homelessness. She will partner with Families Moving Forward, a Minneapolis organization that provides temporary housing for homeless families and helps them transition into permanent housing. Together, they will enroll the children of Families Moving Forward in a 10-week workshop, designed by Beck, that teaches students confidence, leadership and academic skill development in areas like math, science and writing.

The goal is to help close the achievement gap—a statistical difference in the test scores, attendance rates and overall academic success between white children and children from poor backgrounds and children of color.

Perhaps the most impactful part of the project is that Beck herself will be leading it. She is a living example of the impact that education can have and the doors it can open.

Growing up in a low income household without housing stability forced Beck and her family to move from Minnesota to Georgia, and within Georgia multiple times, resulting in Beck changing schools 10 times over the course of her primary and secondary education. Beck worked hard to ensure the instability would not affect her academically, but educational performance was a struggle. When an anticipated living arrangement with family fell through, Beck and her family were left without housing entirely. It was then that her mother found Families Moving Forward, which provided the family with three months of temporary accommodations, and eventually resulted in Beck’s family finding a permanent home.

“I remember the day when my mom told us that we were moving again, but this time it would be permanent,” said Beck. “Families Moving Forward helped my mom get placed on a housing list. The feeling of unpacking and setting up a bed that would be permanent was awakening. I was finally in a place I could call home.”

Despite the setbacks of her youth, Beck has beaten the odds at every turn. Now a sophomore at St. Kate’s studying public health with concentrations in health education and community health, Beck has taken every opportunity to gain useful experiences. She has worked as a resident advisor and has helped K-12 students improve their math, reading and science skills as a student coordinator for the Center for Community Work and Learning’s America Reads Program. She also serves as a peer mentor in the Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS) department, is a member of Lambda Sigma Tau and is the sophomore representative on the Student Senate.

Beck has proven that with a helping hand, people can achieve incredible things. Now she wants to support those who have experienced similar struggles to overcome the challenges before them. Winning the Phillips Scholarship and building a program to help close the achievement gap for homeless youth is certainly a good place to start.

More about the Phillips Scholarship

The Phillips Family Foundation recognizes and rewards private college students, from a variety of disciplines, who strive to make life better for those with unmet needs. Students from Minnesota's 16 private colleges are challenged to think creatively and become community-service leaders.

At St. Catherine University, the Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women facilitates the annual process of selecting a finalist who competes for the Phillips Scholarship. For more information visit the Center for Women.

By Kristen Wunderlich