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Current Pullman Scholars and all 31 of the new scholar cohort attended our third annual Pullman Scholar Symposium on May 20, 2016, dedicated to developing our scholars’ financial literacy, life skills, and professional expertise, while building a stronger Pullman Scholar Community.

Based on scholar feedback from last year, this year’s sessions were made as interactive as possible. The symposium began with an inaugural Pullman Scholar keynote speech given by Corie Wilkins, a 2016 graduate of the University of Missouri. Corie discussed the ups and downs throughout his college experience and how he continued to overcome adversity, grew to believe in himself, and used resources to reach his goals. Scholars shared that listening to his journey was relatable, and Corie reiterated that no Pullman Scholar is alone, and offered strategies for success.

From left to right, back to front: Jasmeen Wellere, Angela Fong, Christopher Nowak, Corie Wilkins, Maribell Heredia, Billy Leung, Tyrianna Jones, Alyssa Zediker, Asia Muhammad

From left to right, back to front: Jasmeen Wellere, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, ’16; Angela Fong, Kalamazoo College, ’16; Christopher Nowak, DePaul University, ’16; Corie Wilkins, University of Missouri, ’16; Maribell Heredia, University of Illinois at Chicago, ’17; Billy Leung, University of Michigan, ’16; Tyrianna Jones, Illinois State University, ’16; Alyssa Zediker, Miami University, ’16; Asia Muhammad, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, ’16.

Another inaugural opportunity for our scholars at the symposium was leading a session. Nine Pullman Scholars planned and facilitated sessions — two scholars worked with session facilitators from last year to add a more student-centered focus and share their experiences, four scholars facilitated a panel discussion about finding and making the most of opportunities, and two scholars facilitated a core conversation about how to make influential, positive changes in their life, campus, and community.



In the evening, scholars honed their networking skills during an interactive activity with more than Pullman Scholar Alumni and guests. Everyone was then inspired by keynote speaker alumnus Patrick T. Murphy, MS, Associate Director of Communications at the Midwest Augustinians, who spoke about his journey of finding his passion; philanthropy and helping people.

The day ended with a reception for current scholars, alumni and guests to grow their network and be inspired by each other.

Thank you to our alumni volunteers who helped throughout the day and everyone who was able to attend. It was a successful day of education for our scholars and an enlightening evening.

To experience the energy of the day, watch the recap video below:

We are pleased to announce Patrick T. Murphy, MS as our keynote speaker for the Third Annual Pullman Scholar Symposium.

Patrick graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. In 2015, he earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management with a Concentration in Fundraising Management from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership.

Most recently, he earned a Certificate in Marketing Strategy from Cornell University and is pursuing a doctorate and the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) credential. He is a proud Pullman Foundation Alumnus and has volunteered on the foundation’s associate board and scholar selection committee.

Patrick currently serves as the Associate Director for Communications at the Midwest Augustinians. He also serves as the volunteer Board Treasurer of 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Illinois. Patrick enjoys traveling and composing music; he is currently writing his sophomore album, Give It Socks.

Patrick will be speaking about his fluid, ongoing journey since graduating on Friday, May 20, 2016. Make sure to RSVP today to secure your seat. There will also be a reception following his speech to interact with him and current Pullman Scholars.

By Patrick T. Murphy, Pullman Scholar Alumnus, ’09.

“Always be dissatisfied with what you are, if you want to arrive at what you are not yet. Because whenever you are satisfied with yourself, there you have stuck… Always add some more, always keep walking, always forge ahead.”   – Augustine of Hippo

Ten years ago, fear clenched me. I was preparing to conclude a significant portion of my life. I had just spent an entire summer mopping floors and cleaning lockers at my now-alma mater, Marian Catholic High School. I was a high school senior working to pay tuition, and I became inundated with the all-too-typical worries: Should I really pursue my dream, or should I play the safe route? Can I even afford this thing called ‘The American Dream,’ or is that something now reserved for only a select few? Does that American Dream—beyond the white picket fence and the suburban house—exist anymore?

Ten years ago, I was doubtful. The American Dream? It seemed like a concept in a history book as opposed to something we should all seek out. My family had seen many hardships: a trying divorce with my estranged father, the repercussions of racial discrimination from generations before me, an exhausted mother working three jobs trying to support my three sisters and me with the occasional help of food stamps.

Ten years ago, my dreams seemed unattainable. With the enormous cost of college, it seemed an unwise choice to get a degree in theater or become a musician for that matter. I had never even taken a music lesson in my life, and yet, it was a part of my American Dream: study to be successful in theater and express myself through music. However, like anything worth effort in life, the sacrifices, accompanying my leap of faith to enroll at Loyola University Chicago, made the experience all the more challenging and rewarding. I didn’t imagine that ten years later I’d be the president at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, Illinois, as well as an independent recording artist. And yet, I mention these accomplishments not to boast, but rather to affirm to any reader that you are the creator of your own destiny and that the American Dream you want in the future is a present reality. It exists NOW.

Today, I am seizing life for all I can. This Pullman Scholar has come a long way, but I realize that I have not reached my full potential. And boy, am I glad for that, too. The day that I feel I am satisfied is the day I stop reaching, pushing, grasping ( a nod to my favorite quote above). I am now enrolled in a nonprofit management master’s program and am happily employed in the fundraising office of a Catholic religious order. I’ve come to realize how vitally important education is far beyond where it can take us in society or our career, but where it can take us in the human experience. Education is the fuel for our minds that keeps us yearning and growing.

My American Dream now? Help others seize life for all it can be and bring happiness to the world. Had it not been for the scholarship and support from the Pullman Foundation, I would not have developed into the man I am today. I like to humbly think that the Pullman Foundation has done more than impact just my life. Far from it, the support I received is now indirectly impacting the lives of those whom I try to support in my daily work at the theater, religious order, in friendship circles, and family.


Patrick (right) hosting the “Q & A” session at the 2014 Pullman Scholar Symposium. Pictured with Jeff Tryka, Pullman Scholar Alumnus ’92.


Today, I am blessed with a great gift. The Pullman Scholarship has led me to a place where I now am fortunate enough to give back to the foundation to help others whose shoes I was once in. This past year, I volunteered as a Pullman Scholar Alumni Selection Committee member, wading through essays of so many deserving scholarship candidates. Each story I read was invigorating to visualize the passions of a new generation, as well as humbling to think that these students are in similar places as to where I was ten years ago. Their essays were the truest stories of trying hardships, overcoming adversities, and dedicated persistence in pursuit of their dreams.

I am now a member of the Pullman Foundation Associates Board. I donated an annual gift to the Foundation, knowing that my gift will be used in support of someone just like me. I volunteered at this year’s Pullman Scholar Symposium to help current Pullman Scholars practice professional networking and make meaningful connections with alumni and one another.

All of this is to say to those high school seniors and college students with big dreams that may seem impossible to accomplish right now: just keep working hard toward your goals and passions. Ten years from now you may reflect on the past decade, in awe of where you were and how far you’ve come, hopefully living your own American Dream.

And to those of us who are lucky to be living out our dreams, remember where you came from, the hard work you put in, and what you can do to give back to others who are taking the first steps of their own journeys.