Cantelme Scholars demonstrate a passion for public service
Breanna Smith can’t wait to put on events. She’s organizing a fairly good-size one now. More on that in a moment.
A junior studying tourism development and management in Arizona State University’s School of Community Resources and Development, Smith identifies herself as “one of those people.” As in, “one of those who are really involved students,” she said.
The kind of student whose sheer volume of activity makes them stand out to the people who award scholarships and travel opportunities. But as active as she is, Smith said being tapped as a Cantelme Scholar caught her off guard.
“I was incredibly surprised,” she said, adding that she does what she always does. “I’m one of those people who sees something that needs to be done and I just do it.”
That good-size event she’s hunting for volunteers for? It’s a combination “culture/pop block party” involving the West Valley cities of Avondale and Goodyear to be held in late March at Estrella Mountain Community College, where Smith attended before transferring to ASU.
She plans to use the experience as the basis for creating a permanent volunteer program among community college and high school students interested in events work.
The Cantelme Scholars are named for retired Phoenix Fire Capt. Pat Cantelme, who is co-founder, president and chairman of the board of the CDH Charitable Foundation, an Arizona-based private foundation that focuses largely on scholarship funding for Arizona residents attending the state’s public universities with a demonstrated passion for public service.
Cantelme, who became a fire captain at the age of 25, was president of the United Phoenix Firefighters, Local 494. He was significantly involved in restoring the historic buildings on West Van Buren Street that are now The Van Buren concert venue and State 48 Brewery.
The Cantelme Scholars program resides within the Public Service Academy, which is administered by the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. This year, the CDH Foundation provided generous tuition funding for 10 ASU students who graduated from Arizona high schools and provided stipends allowing students to take part in ASU Study Abroad programs.
Within the Public Service Academy, 172 majors are represented among students who, like Smith, want to make a difference in society by engaging in such activities as joining the Peace Corps, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Vista, the U.S. military and the National Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, in addition to several public, for-profit and nonprofit entities, said Public Service Academy Executive Director Brett Hunt.
In addition to the requirements of their majors, Public Service Academy students take six more classes through the academy resulting in a certificate in cross-sector leadership. Smith is also pursuing a certificate in special events management.
Cantelme’s dedication to his community is a passion Smith said she wants to share with others.
“When I read about who Pat is and all his achievement at such a young age, it’s something I really connect with, his finding a need and filling it,” she said.