2023 Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholar
Minneapolis College student Benjamin Dammer is one of 25 Phi Theta Kappa members named a 2023 Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholar and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Scholars are encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in Society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. Nearly 1,100 applications were received.
A total of \$213,000 will be awarded this year through the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides \$200,000 in funding for the scholarships with \$25,000 set aside for members like Dammer who are veterans or active members of the United States military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, which provides multiple Global Leaders of Promise Scholarships earmarked for international students.
“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa to make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”
When Leadership Abilities are Put to the Test
Throughout his time in the Marine Corps., Dammer’s leadership skills were constantly challenged. One such incident occurred during an assignment as a Marine Corps. Security Guard. This was the story Dammer chose to highlight in his scholarship application that secured him the award.
“I was tasked with the role of Operations Non-Commissioned Officer, responsible for ensuring the readiness and proper training of the stationed Marines,” said Dammer who encountered a situation that required him to address the deficiency in his immediate leadership. “The exercise involved a simulated threat to the embassy, with the detachment of Marines, including myself, under the direction of the detachment’s second-in-command. Unfortunately, his proposed plan to respond to the simulated threat posed unnecessary risks to the lives of all Marines involved if the threat was real.”
When Dammer voiced his concerns about the plan, his leader asserted the response was solely his call, discouraging him from questioning his decision. “In such a situation, it might have been easier to remain silent, complete the training, and later vent my frustrations to friends,” said Dammer who realized doing so would render the training exercise pointless and reinforce potentially hazardous practices for the future. “I recognized the importance of challenging unsafe decisions and took immediate action. I halted the training, recalled the embassy security officer and detachment commander to the training room, and provided a debrief of the situation.”
Fortunately, the detachment commander and security officer shared Benjamin’s concerns about the flawed plan and asked him to propose an alternative approach to address the threat. “My proposed response was subsequently adopted as the new standard operating procedure, eliminating any future debate in similar situations,” said Dammer. “This experience taught me the vital importance of standing up for what’s right and safe, even in challenging circumstances.”
A Leader of Promise
“The College is pleased one of our veteran students was a recipient of this prestigious scholarship,” said Becky Nordin, Dean of Students and TRIO Director at Minneapolis College. “Our students serving in the United States military, deserve the opportunity of higher education for serving our nation. We congratulate Benjamin for his academic merit, leadership, and scholarship award.”
After serving in the military, Dammer was nervous about returning to school. “Minneapolis College made my transition to the academic environment seamless,” said Dammer. “I love Minneapolis College. The atmosphere, teachers, staff, and my peers have been amazing supports in this new journey. I am especially grateful for the Veterans Services office on campus who walked me through every step of the processes it took to return to school.”
In the fall of 2024 after completing his general education at Minneapolis College, Benjamin will be transferring to the University of Minnesota Duluth to study business management. After spending six years abroad, Dammer is looking forward to being close to home.
The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion but also give students the opportunity to engage in Society programs and develop leadership skills to become future leaders in their communities.
“Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers,” said Dr. Monica Marlowe, executive director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. “The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals.”