As one of the first Phillips Ambassadors, Schaffernoth went to China for three months in 2007 before his senior year at UNC. He said the experience was so impactful, it inspired him to apply for the grant to recreate it for his fellow marines.
“As part of (my trip), I was able to stay with a host family for a short period of time,” Schaffernoth said. “I learned more from living with that host family for five days than I did from walking around as a foreigner and trying to speak the language on my own, and just realizing how impactful that experience was stayed with me.”
In November 2016, Schaffernoth was selected among four others as a Phillips Ambassador Scholar for the 10th anniversary of the program. This specific scholarship allowed alumni to design a project proposal and upon selection, receive funding for their Asia-based project.
“Typically, the guys who enlist in the Marine Corps enlist right out of high school and never get a chance to do something like this,” Schaffernoth said. “Really what the Phillips Ambassador grant has allowed us to do is create a miniature study abroad experience for these five guys who would never have the opportunity to do this any other way.”