Ah, January. Most Gustavus students enjoy a whole month of light workloads, increased free time and, for those involved in student organizations, decreased responsibility. For many, it is the perfect time to break out a new video game, hang out with fellow Gusties and get started on an autobiography. But while this low-key atmosphere may cause laziness in some students, others, like Sophomore Communication Studies Major Phil Helt, never stop working to serve their fellow Gusties through their leadership in campus activities.
A native Missourian to the core, Phil is proud to bring some of what he calls the “Missouri style” to the Gustavus community. “It’s like the state motto, ‘Show me.’ I want to show Gustavus who I am and just experience as much as I can while I’m here,” said Phil.
A typical day for Phil includes participation in many different student- and college-led groups, many of which he holds a leadership position in. “I may be responsible for causing a lot of my own stress,” said Phil, “but I love being involved. I think it’s the best way to meet people and keep myself busy.”
Between his responsibilities as a member of the Gustavus Forensics team and his involvement in GAC TV, Big Partner Little Partner, PLEDGE Council and Student Senate, Phil certainly has enough to keep himself busy. But in spite of managing a workload that would overwhelm less motivated students, Phil enjoys his level of involvement. He is in his element here at Gustavus, as he enjoys his many opportunities to be a student leader. “Everything I do here, I love to do. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. So no matter what it is, academics or activities, I make time for it,” said Phil.
As a story coordinator for GAC TV, events coordinator for BPLP and program coordinator for PLEDGE, Phil has mastered the skill of coordination. Hardly a month goes by that doesn’t include a Phil Helt-planned event. “Just recently I organized a retreat for the PLEDGE Council. Some people didn’t think it was going to happen, but we pulled it through and it was awesome.”
“When I get an idea about something, it’s going to happen,” said Phil. “My high school history teacher always said I was persistent, and I think that’s one of my biggest personality traits. One of my favorite quotes comes from Walt Disney: ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’”
Since his first year at Gustavus, Phil has been a dedicated member of the Forensics team, his favorite on-campus group. “It definitely takes the most work and dedication, but I love doing it. The Forensics team is like family to me.”
For five years, Phil has worked over the summer at a Boy Scout camp in Oseolam, Missouri. “I really enjoy the opportunity to have an impact on these youth,” said Phil. “It can be a tough job sometimes, but at the end of the day you can step back and realize that you’re doing something that really matters.” Phil has continued his commitment to work with youth by making a special connection to BPLP, a group that pairs Gustavus students with youth in the area to serve as friends and mentors.
Phil’s plans for the future change daily. “Sometimes I think I’d like to be a lawyer. I’d like to go back to my old high school and teach there. A major interest of mine is still working with youth in one way or another.”
In addition, Phil is “also planning to work in an elected office, but that can wait,” he said. “My ultimate goal in getting a career is to be able to support my parents. They’ve made me who I am today.”
Through his service and involvement in a wide variety of student and college groups, Phil is the very definition of a student leader. “I think you should always try to challenge yourself in everything you do,” he said. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”