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Celebrating 25 Years of First-Generation College Students “Realizing the Dream”

Thursday, October 30, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ann Gilly
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INDIANAPOLIS, October 27, 2014 – Realizing a dream takes commitment, hard work, and, most often, a helping hand from family and others.  And that’s exactly what 31 students from Indiana’s private colleges and universities are being celebrated for this Saturday evening, November 1, at the 25th annual “Realizing the Dream” banquet.


Now sophomores, they have realized the dream of being the first in their families to go to college, have been selected by their colleges for outstanding achievement in the freshman year, and are successfully advancing towards completing their bachelor’s degrees.


Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, the program is marking its 25th anniversary; with this year’s class, it has recognized more than 750 first-generation students attending ICI campuses, along with their inspirational teachers and families.  The celebration is being held at the Sheraton Indianapolis at Keystone Crossing, with a reception at 6:00 p.m. and an awards dinner at 7:00 p.m., and will feature a special anniversary video.


Each honored student will receive a $2,500 check to help with college costs, and each student’s chosen “most influential” teacher/mentor will receive $1,000.  One out of every three students on ICI campuses is a first-generation one. Generous financial aid provided by the campuses themselves, combined with state and federal grants, makes a private college education a possibility for all students in Indiana.


This year’s keynote speaker is Santiago Jaramillo, CEO and founder of BlueBridge Digital, a mobile-apps-as-a-service company that helps colleges, tourism destinations, churches, and others communicate with their customers through visually compelling, full featured mobile apps. A graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, he was named the 2013 TechPoint Mira Award’s "Young Professional of the Year"; invited recently to the White House to a ceremony for “Champions of Change” for immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs; and recognized by Inc. Magazine in its 2013 "30 Under 30: World's Coolest Entrepreneurs" feature.


“We are so grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for making this inspirational program possible for 25 years now,” says Richard L. Ludwick, ICI president & CEO.  “We are proud, too, that because of the higher graduation rates of our ICI colleges and universities, these students are twice as likely to realize the dream of completing their degrees in four years.”  


“Realizing the Dream”

 Student & Teacher Award Recipients

 Information includes:

1.  the student’s name and hometown;
2.  the college/university they are attending with the name of the campus contact;
3.  the name of the teacher, the name of the school and its location.


Felicia Goodsell, Knox

Ancilla College, Mr. Todd Zeltwanger

Sam Soliman, Ancilla College, Donaldson


Chelsea Stephens, New Castle

Anderson University, Mr. R. Dean Branson

Mary Jane Dye, Wilbur Wright Elementary, New Castle


Christina Martin, Fishers

Bethel College, Dr. Barbara Bellefeuille

James Fagan, Fishers High School, Fishers


Lisa Fischer, LaPorte

Butler University, Mr. Matt Stach

Tim Eldridge, New Prairie High School, New Carlisle


Kelly Rusnack, Whiting

Calumet College of St. Joseph, Ms. Gina Pirtle

William McCullom, Clark High School, Whiting


Vanessa Freije, Indianapolis

DePauw University, Mr. Craig Slaughter

Margo McAlear, Park Tudor, Indianapolis


Johnnie Fitzpatrick, Muncie

Earlham College, Mrs. Bonita Washington-Lacey

Jarrod Dortch, Ivy Tech Community College, Muncie


Brody Perrine, Roachdale

Franklin College, Mr. Ellis F. Hall III

William Brothers, North Putnam High School, Roachdale


Janeth Maricela Vela Tavarez, Goshen

Goshen College, Ms. DaVonne Harris

Barbara Yoder, Model Elementary, Goshen


Savannah Balluch, Griffith

Grace College and Seminary, Dr. James E. Swanson

Cindy Poulsen, Lake Hills Baptist Church, Schererville


Gabrielle A. Leith, Lapel

Hanover College, Dr. Steve Jobe

John Maryan, Lapel High School, Lapel


Jazmin Alejandra Garcia Torres, Elkhart

Holy Cross College, Mr. Brian Howard

McKenna Lulic, Madison Primary Center, South Bend


Tori Coble, Huntington

Huntington University, Ms. Martha J. Smith

Sarah Holsopple, Wawasee High School, Syracuse


Thaddeus Conley, Hammond

Indiana Tech, Dr. Christopher Douse

Deloris Williams, West Side Leadership Academy, Gary


Tyler Replogle, Muncie

Indiana Wesleyan University, Dr. Nathan Herring

Melinda Thompson, Wapahani High School, Selma


Heather DeLorenzo, Winamac

Manchester University, Ms. Kathrine Dwyer

Darlene Gordon, Winamac Community High School, Winamac


Felicia Hunter, Greenwood

Marian University, Mr. Chad Bir

Amy Fix, Center Grove High School, Greenwood


Kelvin Turner, Indianapolis

Martin University, Ms. Virginia Goodwin

Nicole Kearney, Martin University, Indianapolis


Braelyn Cargal, Oakland City

Oakland City University, Dr. Jeff McNabb

Johnnie Bartley, Wood Memorial High School, Oakland City


Clark Harris, Indianapolis

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Ms. Kim Henthorn

Steve Hardwick, Indian Creek Elementary, Indianapolis


Jacob Brown, Rensselaer

Saint Joseph’s College, Ms. Heidi Rahe

Lorraine Schneider, Rensselaer Central High School, Rensselaer


Rian Jones, Hammond

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Ms. Darla Hopper

Tricia Kujawa, Morton Sr. High School, Hammond


Maranda Pennington, Arcadia

Saint Mary’s College, Ms. April Lane

Jennifer Luce, Hamilton Heights Middle School, Arcadia


Kayla Thompson, Lizton

Taylor University, Mr. Tim Nace

Jacob Street, Tri-West Middle School, Lizton


Zachary Rowland, Shelbyville

Trine University, Dr. Stuart Jones

Alfred Parsons, Shelbyville High School, Shelbyville


Laura Dalto, Evansville

University of Evansville, Ms. Linda L. Bathon

Patrice Villines, Washington Middle School, Evansville


Ronald Fugate, Indianapolis

University of Indianapolis, Mr. Ron Wilks

Jeni Reed, Douglas MacArthur Elementary, Indianapolis


Natalie Pottschmidt, Lawrenceburg

University of Notre Dame, Ms. Elly Brenner

Janey Stephens, Oldenburg Academy, Oldenburg


Emina Kpostic, Fort Wayne

University of Saint Francis, Mr. J.P. Spagnolo

Ron Knox, Northwood Middle School, Fort Wayne


Mariela Murillo, Portage

Valparaiso University, Dr. Bonnie Hunter

Mark Marvin, Portage High School, Portage


Brady Boles, Indianapolis

Wabash College, Dr. Michael Raters

Sally Nierman, Fall Creek Valley Middle School, Indianapolis



Independent Colleges of Indiana serves as the collective voice for the state’s 31 private, nonprofit colleges and universitiesICI member institutions enroll some 100,000 students (approximately 17 percent of all undergraduates statewide) and annually produce 32 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in Indiana. Information about ICI is available at