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Dream Big

Kam Phillips returns to MU for Women's Leadership Conference

Published March 3, 2016
Story by Christine Jackson
Photo courtesy of Kam Phillips

Kam Phillips

Kam Phillips, BS SW '12, founder of Dream Outside the Box, returns to the University of Missouri March 12 to open the Women's Leadership Conference.

When Kam Phillips was a freshman at MU in 2008, she noticed a problem. She asked the children at the local Boys and Girls Club where she volunteered what they wanted to be when they grew up. At the time, 74 percent of boys K-5 aspired to be rappers, professional athletes, or both. Phillips knew she wanted to help expand these children’s horizons — but how?

Phillips' idea grew into Dream Outside the Box, which started its first chapter at Mizzou in 2009. The program aims to “propel youth in dream deserts toward higher education while cultivating leadership skills among collegiate volunteers ... College students broaden the horizons of K-5 youth while developing skills to contribute toward the disruption of cyclical poverty.”

Dream Outside the Box is now Phillips’ full-time job, and the organization continues to expand. There are 10 current chapters across the country, and several more in the works. The next step, Phillips says, is a subscription box service that would deliver experiential learning opportunities to children’s doorsteps.

On March 12, Phillips will bring her “dream big” attitude back to MU for the annual Women’s Leadership Conference. She’s excited to return to Columbia and try to inspire students to be leaders in whatever they want to do.

“Even though I graduated in 2012, Mizzou is home and will always be home,” says Phillips. “I try to get back home as much as I can. Dream Outside the Box wouldn’t exist without Mizzou. It’s something I cultivated at Mizzou as a student and I can’t imagine [having started] this program anywhere else.”

The conference will feature four breakout sessions, a breakfast and luncheon, multiple speakers and a networking and resource fair, all of which are aimed at promoting the conference’s four pillars: networking, education, empowerment and diversity.

“I want students to walk away confident in the strength of their conviction and their ability to lead from within and really understand that finding your pathway in life is an intrinsic journey,” says Phillips. “A student might have a lot of choices for where to be that day, but I can’t imagine a place where they would walk away feeling more energized and more excited about the potential for their future. They’ll get the strength and the tools that they need as women leaders and connect with like-minded and excited and ambitious women who can really form a wonderful network.”

Phillips will be the opening speaker for the conference, which costs $20 for students and $30 for everyone else. Liz Forkin Bohannon, founder of Sseko Designs, a fashion brand that aims to educate and empower women, will deliver the keynote address.

The Women's Leadership conference is dedicated to inclusivity, and all gender identities are encouraged to attend. Registration closes Friday, March 4, at 5 p.m.

Published by the Division of Student Affairs, 211 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6776 | Fax: 573-882-0158 | E-mail: StudentAffairs@missouri.edu

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Last updated: Aug. 15, 2017