Indiana college students ‘Realizing the Dream’ with scholarships, connection to influential educators

INDIANA — Several first-generation Indiana college students are getting a boost to their education funds this semester and re-connecting with influential educators who helped along the way after being named “Realizing the Dream” recipients by Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) including a Linton student.

Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the scholarship program annually recognizes first-generation college students from ICI’s 29 private, non-profit colleges and universities. Students are selected for the $3,000 award for outstanding achievement during their freshman year 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,” ICI President & CEO David W. Wantz said. “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.

This year’s recipients and their influential educators are listed below. Information includes:

  1. The student’s name and hometown;
  2. The college/university the student is attending
  3. The name of the student’s most influential teacher/mentor, the name of the school

Jenna Littlejohn, Linton, University of Evansville – Bridget Lester, The Indiana Academy for Science

Elliandra Christina Morales, Hobart, Anderson University – Alaina Kent, Indiana Connections Academy

Abbie Suiter, Elkhart, Bethel University – Deborah Yoder, Elkhart Christian Academy

Brianna Copenhaver, Greenwood, Butler University – Stephen Blackburn, Promise Road Elementary School

AnnaMaria Hernandez, Whiting, Calumet College of St. Joseph – Wendy Akers, Area Career Center

Jeremy Espinoza, Elkhart, DePauw University – Elise Maller, Weisser Park School

Diana Santiago-Cruz, Richmond, Earlham College – Tre Ronne, Richmond High School

Darian Porter, Evansville, Franklin College – Knetra Shaw, Lincoln School

Bryan A. Moreno, Goshen, Goshen College – Matthew P. James, Goshen High School

DaZhané JonesIndianapolis, Grace College – Alicia Hervey, The PATH School

Mya Urba, Westfield, Hanover College – Jason Bousman, Westfield High School

Julian Garcilazo, South Bend, Holy Cross College – Andrea Smolinski, Saint Joseph High School

Olivia Grace Markley, Markle, Huntington University – Mark Buzzard, Huntington North High School

Jaelyn Fox, Churubusco, Indiana Institute of Technology – Jordan Turner, Churubusco Jr/Sr High School

Jaileen Diaz, Portage, Indiana Wesleyan University – Trinitie Braner, Portage High School

Valeria Jimenez, Akron, Manchester University – Kristopher Walker, Tippecanoe Valley High School

Luis Oviedo, Indianapolis, Marian University – Jason Hendrickson, North Central High School

Khloye V. StricklandMackey, Oakland City University – Gary Horrall, Waldo J. Wood Memorial High School

Courtney Valmore, Indianapolis, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology – Jillian Paulen, Herron High School

Isabell Coryea, Plainfield, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College – Share Abrell, Plainfield High School

Hannah Stewart, Westville, Saint Mary’s College – Bobbi Hall, Westchester Intermediate School

Kelsey Denison, Fort Wayne, Taylor University – Jennifer Knarr, Blackhawk Middle School

Kristen Azzue, Waterloo, Trine University – Susan Zuber, DeKalb High School (retired)

Mariana Fletes-Cuevas, Shelbyville, University of Indianapolis – Jennifer Teague, Shelbyville Central Schools

Gavin Wade Ealey, Fort Wayne, University of Notre Dame – Alicia Baumgartner, Bishop Luers High School

Elma Cehic, Fort Wayne, University of Saint Francis- Greg Novak, Canterbury School

Fatima Garcia, Portage, Valparaiso University – James Asbury, Portage High School

Richard Pan, Crawfordsville, Wabash College – Anita Harris, Mollie B. Hoover Elementary

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 philanthropic 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 founder’s wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.