Twenty-nine first-generation Indiana college students got a boost to their education funds this academic year and re-connected with influential educators who helped along the way after being named “Realizing the Dream” recipients by Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). These 29 scholarship recipients, one from each of Indiana’s private, non-profit colleges and universities, were celebrated at a banquet on February 24 at the Eiteljorg Museum. Award recipients, videos, and photos are listed below.  

Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the scholarship program annually recognizes first-generation college students from ICI colleges and universities. Students are selected for the $4,000 award for outstanding achievement as they successfully advance toward completing their bachelor’s degrees. 

To honor recipients, ICI created individual videos of each student describing what it means to them to be a first-generation college student and thanking the influential educator they have chosen to honor. Videos can be found at 

“Thanks to the continued support of Lilly Endowment, we get the opportunity to hear the inspiring stories of these first-generation students and the impact local educators have had on their drive to succeed academically,” said Dottie L. King, ICI’s president & CEO. “These scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”  

In addition to the students’ scholarship awards, the influential educators also receive $1,000 in professional development grants.  

Listed below are the Realizing the Dream recipients and the colleges they are attending, as well as the teacher they’ve named as their most influential educator and school where they taught the recipient.

Maddi Martin, Anderson University
Kimberly Kaiser, Hamilton Heights High School

Smyrna P. Masih, Bethel University
Umeki Williams, Mishawaka High School

Sarah Ripperger, Butler University
Betsy Baugh, Batesville High School

Blaze Cano, Calumet College of St. Joseph
Larry Govert, Hanover Central High School

Alexis Meyer, DePauw University
Chad Gayso, Jasper High School

Carly Mays, Earlham College
Thom Crist, Northside Middle School

Skyler Journey Cosby, Franklin College
Beth Klinker, Sacred Heart Elementary School

Ashley Penzenik, Goshen College
David Kieft, Northridge High School

Bianca Jimenez-Ortiz, Grace College
Jeff Stutzman, Concord Community Schools

Sierra Adkins, Hanover College
Gerard Striby, Roncalli High School

Jelani Cotton, Holy Cross College
Leslie Burns, John Adams High School

Victoria Hilderbrand, Huntington University
Ken Bracey, Grace Christian Academy

Julia Rose VanDuyn, Indiana Institute of Technology
Mindy Weaver-Flask, Shortridge High School

Maddy Welker, Indiana Wesleyan University
Steve Lubbehusen, Carroll High School

Kyle Newcomb, Manchester University
John Arndt, New Prairie High School

Stephany Gutierrez, Marian University
Patricia Lawton, Central Nine Career Center

Quanisha Dowdell, Martin University
Demond Woods, Paramount School of Excellence

Michael Nash, Oakland City University
Tosha Embry, Clarksville High School

Tim Ausec, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Carole Duran, Knox Community High School

Taylor Howard, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Holly Kanizer, Terre Town Elementary School

Sheccid Gutierrez, Saint Mary’s College
Tyler Gellinger, Fairview Elementary School

Ben Tobey, Taylor University
Christiann MacLean, Irvington Preparatory Academy

Garrett Adams, Trine University
Andrew Shores, Morristown Jr./Sr. High School

Alyssa Burnett, University of Evansville
Deb Gee, Cascade High School

Sha’Quan Logan, University of Indianapolis
Pat Higgins, Brown Intermediate School

Justin Le, University of Notre Dame
Doris Derheimer, Bishop Dwenger High School

Sanae Jennings, University of Saint Francis
Jami Redman, John Adams High School

Payton Wolfenbarger, Valparaiso University
Brenda Cooper, LaPorte High School

Austin Pickett, Wabash College
Renee Howell, Fountain Central Jr./Sr. High School

About Independent Colleges of Indiana
Independent Colleges of Indiana serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, non-profit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although the Endowment funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. 

Media contact: Jen Zentz | | 317-727-6759