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Community Foundation Awards Student Scholarships

Published: Friday, March 15, 2019

Twenty-one students and their families will benefit from scholarships awarded March 2 by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and Lilly Endowment Inc.

The 2019 Lilly Endowment Scholarship, Guy David Gundlach Memorial Scholarship and INSPIRE Scholarship will all help students from public and private schools pursue goals and dreams at the college level.

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship is the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor's degree. The program, now in its 21st year, has awarded 85 LECS to students in Elkhart County, totaling more than $6.5 million in scholarships. Statewide over 4,626 have been awarded, providing nearly $392 million in scholarships across Indiana since the program began in 1998.

Working with the community foundation, Independent Colleges of Indiana, the statewide administrator of the LECS program, selects three Elkhart County, first-generation, college bound students each year. Scholarship recipients will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship toward a baccalaureate degree at any accredited college or university in Indiana. Recipients this year are Lisa Hochstetler, Northridge, Claire Mumaw, Fairfield, and Alexa Porter, Concord.

As a complement to the LECS program, the Community Foundation is honored to carry on the legacy of Guy David Gundlach by awarding six Elkhart County, first-generation, college bound students a four-year, $5,000 per year scholarship toward a bachelor's degree. This memorial scholarship is only one of the many positive initiatives established due to Mr. Gundlach's gift in 2011. Since the inception of the scholarship, 37 Elkhart County students have received this $20,000 award. Over the first decade, more than 60 students in our community will be presented the Guy David Gundlach Memorial Scholarship. Recipients include: Danyelle Adams of Jimtown; Margot Cruz-Portillo of Elkhart Memorial; Melissa Daniels of Goshen; Claire Hershberger of Clinton Christian; Jaycee Rossi of Elkhart Central; and Otto Schlatter of NorthWood.

The INSPIRE Scholarship is the Community Foundation's newest scholarship, beginning in 2017, and awards hard-working, community-minded students the opportunity to receive $3,000 per year. Multiple two- or four-year scholarships are being awarded each year. To be eligible to renew their scholarship, each of the recipients must complete a minimum of 30 hours of volunteer time per year in Elkhart County. This year's 2-year recipients are Shenais Colton Flores of Concord; Cory Green of Jimtown; Kristin Miller of Fairfield; Artemio Orozco of Goshen; David Varela of Goshen; and Alana Walls of Elkhart Central.

This year's 4-year recipients are Caaden Beck, Jimtown; Michael Cox, Elkhart Christian; Christina Hickman, Northridge; Victoria Gamez, Elkhart Central; Kassandra Miller, Bethany Christian; and Spencer Shuff, Concord.

For the third year, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County awarded challenge coins to scholarship recipients. The coins, engraved with the name of the scholar and the year of presentation, are intended to be a lifelong reminder to the recipients of their award.

At last Saturday's brunch, Rob Cripe, a member of the Community Foundation's board of directors and the career pathways committee, thanked the adults who helped the students reach toward their goals and urged the students to look ahead. The scholarships are a gift from the community to students who have worked hard and excelled.

"We challenge each of you to live up to our collective expectations for continued academic excellence," he said, adding that he hopes the students will "pay it forward" when their studies are complete.

Keynote speaker Dakota Foster, a 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipient as a NorthWood High School senior, told how the love and compassion surrounding her in Elkhart County helped her navigate a broken home and troubled youth.

"No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, there is no way you got to where you are today without the compassion and help of others," said Foster, who is now an English teacher in South Bend Community Schools. "I am blessed to have walked through some serious darkness and into some serious kindness-- those experiences have equipped me to become the daughter and the teacher I am today."

She urged students, as well as their parents, counselors and administrators, to share in each others' joys and sadnesses.

"May we be those people who can take the inevitable sadnesses of life and draw out the blessings. May we take these blessings and share them with those around us," she said.

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