Growing up, Paige Phillips had always wanted to find a way to combine coaching and community development into her career path. “I am passionate about sport as a tool for empowerment, community development and social change,” she says, “so I wanted to become a coach and to work with a nonprofit that uses sport to empower youth.”
And now, as a senior at UVM, her dreams are becoming reality. Recently Paige received a fellowship to attend graduate school in a program that will prepare her to work at the intersection of youth development and education in underserved inner-city schools. “Next year I will go to Smith College and study exercise and sports studies focused on coaching women’s intercollegiate sports,” she says. “I gained this opportunity through a fellowship run by Project Coach, an organization that provides teenagers with the opportunity to coach the youth in their community’s afterschool programs.”
Paige will soon graduate with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), along with minors in Coaching and Psychology. “At UVM I’ve gained an incredible education, played Division I soccer, volunteered in my community, and surrounded myself with a community of positive people. I also love being outdoors and Vermont is one of the most beautiful places to explore.”
She appreciates the UVM culture that prioritizes critical thinking, creativity, diversity, sustainability and protecting the environment. “Within the HDFS program, we learn how to create sustainable societal change by addressing ways to prevent problems and promote positive human development across the life span,” she explains.
Paige also values how her professors teach students to challenge their own assumptions. “We learn to think critically about everything including interactions and readings.”
“I’ve enjoyed the HDFS courses because they are multi-disciplinary, so I’ve gained the ability to draw on many perspectives of social sciences and psychology,” she says. “My studies provided great insight into the ways humans develop and learn, and offered historical insight on how our educational systems have been impacted by research.”
Experiences in the Field
Three summers ago, Paige began serving as a staff member and counselor for the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, a camp that incorporates the love for sports as a tool to help girls develop their own leadership styles and community service projects.
She also gained valuable experience and skills by coaching two different youth soccer clubs, and now she is getting an opportunity to shadow her own coaches on the UVM Women’s Soccer Team. She also served as a community volunteer working with a diverse group of teenagers at the Boys and Girls Club in Burlington.
Last year, Paige worked as an Assistant Case Worker with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP), attending home visits and helping refugees with job applications. Currently she is completing an internship with VRRP, providing English Language Learning and Citizenship Outreach, and serving as an Assistant to the Family Strengthening Coordinator.
Being a Student Athlete
Through it all, she has played on the UVM Women’s Varsity Soccer team all four years at UVM, building incredible memories and relationships with her teammates, coaches and staff in the Athletics Department. Her academic athletic advisor, Cathy Rahill, has been an important mentor along the way. “Cathy is a role model for many student athletes because of her energy and support,” Paige believes.
The fellowship with Project Coach is an exciting opportunity, and Paige is thankful for the HDFS faculty who've provided inspiration and guidance to help make it possible. "Professor Larry Shelton has taught me to be a lifelong learner and to be curious,” she says. “In my first class with him freshman year, Larry said to stop in any class that seems interesting, even if it’s not in your major. This led me to pursue two minors and to go to workshops, lectures and trainings outside of class.” Professors Jackie Weinstock and Nicole Conroy have made a big impact on her education as well. “Jackie challenges my ability to think critically and to reflect,” she says. “I really appreciate the effort she puts into her classes to enhance our learning. And the passion and expertise that Nicole has for the material she teaches is remarkable.”
Paige also feels fortunate to have so many supportive friends and teammates who are hardworking and value their education. "My experience at UVM and the friendships I’ve made here have been powerful influences in my life.”