Jennifer Phillips: Robert Morris University Jennifer Phillips | Robert Morris University

Changing Lives


One time, a homeless approached me. He told me that, although he lives on the street and doesn’t have many material things, his life is great. He’s not on any medication. He’s not in a wheelchair. And he doesn’t have crutches. For these things, he said, he is grateful. 

As I listened, my eyes swelled with tears. This man had nothing, and no place to call home, but he still had so much joy and life within him. It was really beautiful. This was during my sophomore year, on alternative spring break. We traveled to D.C. and spent a few days preparing and serving hot meals to the city’s homeless. Homeless—a word with such negative connotations. 

Spending time with these individuals was amazing. They had so much to share. And we had so much to share with them. The less fortunate people I’ve met and had the opportunity to help have also helped me. They’ve positively /impacted my life in so many ways. These people have more life and hope in them then anyone I’ve ever met. They make me want to strive for more—to be better able to help others. They make me realize how joyful I should be. 

I don’t know whether I’ve changed lives or not, but I know that I have a passion for helping others. Doing service work made me realize that my dream career focuses on helping people—not sitting behind a desk. That’s just not me. 

My dream is to work in higher education. It’s funny because, in high school, I thought I wanted to work in business—a totally different world. But one day something clicked, and I realized I’d love to work with students and help them navigate through life’s journeys. 

Looking back to the beginning of my freshman year, I realize how RMU has changed me. It helped me expand, and it made me who I am now. Before coming here, people probably knew me as the loud, talkative one who does her own thing. After RMU, I still talk a lot. But I’m also a great listener.


Since she was featured in the "Change A Life" campaign, Jennifer has been working for over a year and a half with clients with mental and developmental disabilities. 

"It is a rewarding process yet also exhausting," she says. "I've been able to teach daily living skills that we take advantage of. I've also been able to teach them more complex things they thought they'd never learn." 

Currently she's at Slippery Rock University studying for her master's degree in counseling and development in student affairs.

Jennifer has also taken on a leadership role within her church as a Lay Leader Speaker, and served as a district representative of her church at the Grove City College for Annual Conference. "I do a lot of volunteer projects, and also help with the collections of things—we do care bags for kids in hospitals and a hat and mitten tree around Christmas time for local homeless shelters."  

She's also working through the United Methodist Church in its Imagine No Malaria campaign in Africa, which raises money for research and bed nets. "Someone dies from malaria every 60 seconds now. It is one of the world's deadliest diseases, yet there is a cure for it." 

Jennifer says the Change A Life campaign resonates with so many people because it represents the truly life-changing experiences she and her classmates had at Robert Morris.

"RMU made such an impact on our lives that we wanted to impact others in anyway we could, whether that was through our leadership, community service, or involvement on campus."