Syracuse University Magazine

Leader, Advocate, Scholar


Jorge Talamantes

Volunteering is a way of life for Jorge Talamantes ’15. Growing up in Azusa, California, he was involved with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at a children’s center in Los Angeles, participated in a 24-hour walk-a-thon to raise money for the City of Hope American Cancer Society, and raised $800 to help animals affected by the Gulf oil spill. “My parents are all about giving,” says Talamantes, a psychology and communications disorders major in the College of Arts and Sciences. “My Dad’s motto is ‘You always spend two cents on someone else before you spend two cents on yourself.’”  

With such a strong family tradition of giving, it is not surprising that Talamantes was one of 10 students selected to be part of the inaugural Phanstiel Scholars program. Applicants for the four-year scholarships are required to write a statement summarizing their volunteer activities and describing how they plan to use their time, resources, and talent to make the world a better place. “I think I was chosen to be a Phanstiel Scholar because I’m really involved with advancing human rights,” Talamantes says. “I feel like I’m being rewarded for doing what I already do naturally.”

As a second-year Phanstiel Scholar, Talamantes serves on the Council of Mentors, which assists the group’s first-year scholars with academic development and ways to participate in service within the University community. “My main message to the first-year scholars is don’t wait  until the second semester to begin volunteering, because it’s never too soon to start looking for ways to help people,” says Talamantes, who also mentors students in his role as resident advisor for the Psychology in Action Learning Community. 

Talamantes says the entire group of Phanstiel Scholars gets together bi-weekly to work on philanthropic projects, and they have had opportunities to meet with the Phanstiels as well. Inspired by the inaugural Phanstiel Lecture, delivered by Room to Read founder John Wood, the scholars have decided to raise funds to build a school in Africa. ”When we raise $20,000, the Room to Read organization will build the school,” says Talamantes, one of three project leaders. “We plan to dedicate the new school in honor of the Phanstiels as our way of saying thank you to them for their generosity.”   

This summer, Talamantes plans to intern with the Peace Corps in the health care field and then hopes to volunteer in Africa after graduation. Looking to the future, he has his sights set on a career advocating for children with autism and mental illness—especially children from minority groups who don’t always get the professional help they need. “I want to start my own organization to raise awareness for underserved children with mental illness,” Talamantes says. “I have no doubt that all of the good connections I’m making as a Phanstiel Scholar will help me get my foot in the door and realize my dreams.”      —Christine Yackel

Louise and Howard Phanstiel Scholar

Recipient: Jorge Talamantes ’15, the College of Arts and Sciences

Background: Trustee Howard “Howie” G. Phanstiel ’70, G’71, and his wife, Louise Phanstiel, established the Phanstiel Scholars program for middle-class students who are U.S. citizens and demonstrate the potential for academic success and community leadership. Each Phanstiel Scholar is awarded a minimum grant of $3,000 a year for four years, which may be increased to address individual needs.