Dimon Phillips: From Scholar to Supporter

Jess DewesAwards to Students, Giving, Student Stories

Dimon in the living room of the home she purchased in 2023.

Growing up, Dimon Phillips always knew she would go to college. She was an excellent student and, as she entered her senior year of high school at Clyde C. Miller Academy in St. Louis, MO, she did so with clear postsecondary goals. She also, like many of her peers, believed from an early age that, if she worked hard and did everything right, she’d have no trouble paying for college with scholarships. This was when she learned that realizing her dream of college was going to be more challenging than she had originally imagined.

“You can have the good grades. You can have the community service. You can have everything under the sun and it’s not enough. I just saw other kids getting scholarships and I didn’t think of it like, ‘OK, how did they get these scholarships?’ I just thought that it would kind of be handed to me, from whatever school I chose.

Born and raised in the city of St. Louis, Dimon is the youngest child in her immediate family. A self-proclaimed “baby of the bunch”, she was raised by her mother to work hard, get good grades, and go to college. She knew her mom had started college once but had to leave before graduating because of finances. Her sister’s college experience was also cut short when the money ran out. So Dimon got to work filling out scholarship applications, as her college counselor advised. After several weeks passed with no responses, she started to worry that her options for postsecondary education would be severely limited, including the possibility that she wouldn’t be able to go to college at all.

I felt like I was going to have the same struggles as my mom and my sister.”  

Dimon heard about a student a grade above her who received support from The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, so she decided to apply. In her application, Dimon wrote, She [her mother] has raised me into a young lady…and even if things are not going right, something may always happen where something can change. She has always taught me to motivate myself and look at things as being positive.”

Soon after submitting that application, something DID happen. Something DID change. She got the news from The Scholarship Foundation: she was going to be awarded the Equifax Finance Scholarship. For the duration of her undergraduate studies and until her graduation, the gap in her finances for college would be covered by a renewable grant and she would graduate debt-free. She decided on Southeast Missouri State University, interested in pursuing their accounting degree.

“Once I initially found out that I was getting the scholarship, it definitely was very emotional.”  

It didn’t surprise anyone who knew Dimon that even in the era of Covid, when most plans fell apart and everything went sideways, she thrived in college. Her organizational skills helped her succeed: at the start of each semester, she carefully paid all her school bills and expenses with the money from the grant while many of her friends, especially those whose scholarships only covered freshman year, struggled with how they were going to stay in school and graduate.

A lot of people actually dropped out because they couldn’t afford it anymore.

Along with that gap-closing funding, Dimon received crucial assistance from her advisors and participated in a Foundation internship program. She completed her degree early, in part because the “brick being lifted off [her] shoulder every semester” made it possible for her to focus on her studies. She credits the support from the Foundation for being a constant reminder that college was where she belonged.

Dimon and her mother, Virginia, at her college graduation.

I didn’t want to be the one who had everything they needed and still didn’t finish. It’s just like, OK, well, you have this, so make sure that you use it to your advantage.”

Dimon graduated in December of 2021 and, free of debt, became a Scholarship Foundation donor just a few months later in 2022. I know that $50 or $100 to The Scholarship Foundation could cover someone’s books or pay for washing their clothes at school. I hope that it’ll help somebody who’s aspiring to go to college so they can graduate and then turn around and do the same thing.”

Today, Dimon works as a senior employee benefits account representative for an insurance brokerage. In the last year, she got engaged, bought her first home, and became the proud mother of a beautiful daughter named Layla. As she looks to her future, she is energized by the many professional opportunities available in her field. The support she received from the Foundation inspires her every day, and she is eager to find ways to increase her impact as a donor.

“Just giving back to the community, whether of my time, my money, my efforts, my energy, whatever the case is…I definitely want to do more.”