19 Students, Alumnus in Asia as Phillips Ambassadors

Eighteen undergraduates and one graduate student from Carolina have been selected as Phillips Ambassadors for 2011 study abroad programs in Asia. They will study in China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

UNC’s Phillips Ambassadors program includes a three-credit academic course that puts the experience in global context and challenges students to share their experiences of Asia upon their return.

Phillips Ambassadors receive up to $7,500 each for a semester or year-long program and up to $5,000 each for a summer program. Dates for their trips vary. Recipients are selected for academic achievement and commitment to activities, service and leadership roles in the classroom and community.

This year the first Phillips Ambassadors Outreach Award was granted to an alumnus of the program, Wyatt Bruton ’11 of Raleigh, who majored in journalism and mass communication with an entrepreneurship minor.

The award of $500 recognizes exemplary creativity and effort in sharing about the study abroad experience in Asia with the Carolina community and the student’s hometown, or helping to educate others about a particular region, issue or idea associated with Asia.

In summer 2009, Bruton interned in Beijing with EASTWEST Public Relations. The experience complemented the public relations emphasis in his major as well as his minor. While there, Bruton volunteered at a school for migrant workers’ children.

Since the Phillips Ambassadors program began in 2007, it has sent 133 undergraduates to Asia, including this cohort. Recipients are chosen twice each year, with 25 percent of the scholarships reserved for qualified undergraduate business majors and minors from Kenan-Flagler Business School. The ambassadors choose from more than 50 UNC-approved academic programs in Asia that are offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and Kenan-Flagler.

The program emphasizes what is called “Give Back,” having the ambassadors sharing their study abroad experiences with the Carolina community and their hometowns. In accepting the scholarship, a student agrees to submit an article about his or her studies in Asia to a campus or hometown publication. Students also give outreach presentations about their experiences at a school in their hometown and North Carolina schools.

Earl N. “Phil” Phillips Jr. ’62, who graduated from UNC with a business administration degree, established an endowment to support the program to generate greater interest in Asia among UNC undergraduates. Phillips has worked and traveled in Asia for more than 20 years and is a former U.S. ambassador to the eastern Caribbean.

“Our goal with this gift has been to encourage more students to spend their study abroad experiences focused on Asia – an increasingly vital region of the future,” said Phillips, an entrepreneur who splits his time between High Point and Chapel Hill.

The Phillips Ambassadors Outreach Award was made possible by a gift from Jordan Phillips and Courtney Phillips Hyder of Charlotte, the son and daughter of Phil Phillips, to honor a Phillips Ambassador alumnus or alumna.

“Wyatt has been an exemplary advocate for the Phillips Ambassadors program through his participation in study abroad outreach events,” Hyder said.

Bruton’s 2009 experience compelled him to return to China last summer to create “Beijing: Through a Different Lens,” a photo documentary of life in a Chinese migrant village, a project supported in part by the Phillips Ambassadors Alumni Fund. Bruton will return to China this summer to begin a two-year teaching appointment with Teach For China.

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