Hancock County Community Foundation Introduces 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Recipients
HCCF has the privilege of administering the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship (LECSP). Each year, HCCF applies to the Independent College of Indiana (ICI) for the opportunity to recommend two graduating students to Lilly Endowment for the four-year, full-tuition scholarship award. Should ICI accept the application, HCCF implements and supervises the process for selection.
Eligible applicants must be Hancock County residents, attend one of the four Hancock County public high schools, be ranked in the top 15% of their graduating class after six semesters, and plan to pursue a baccalaureate course of study to be completed in four years at any accredited Indiana public or private college or university. Student applications are submitted online and reviewed blindly (without name or contact information) by experienced, third-party professional evaluators. The third party selects eight finalists, two students from each Hancock County public high school, who best meet the scholarship criteria. Community service is the primary criterion for qualification. Financial need is not a consideration for Hancock County’s Lilly Scholarships.
The eight finalists are interviewed in October by a volunteer committee identified by HCCF, all of whom adhere to a strict conflict of interest policy. This committee has the difficult task of selecting two students from the talented pool of eight finalists and submitting their recommendation to Lilly Endowment for approval. The eight finalists are honored at their respective school corporation’s board meetings in November.
The 2018 recipients of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship are AJ Muegge, Eastern Hancock High School and Jenna Parsons, Greenfield-Central High School.
AJ Muegge, Eastern Hancock High School
“AJ Muegge is a shining example of turning adversity into advocacy.”
Cindy Dyar, executive director, One Mind Institute, has seen Muegge’s passion for raising awareness for mental health. Muegge lost his mother, Lisa, in 2016 after a battle with depression. Since that time, he and his family have become tireless advocates for a subject that is often taboo in society.
For the last two years, Muegge has utilized the annual sale of his 4-H animal to raise funds for research for cures and better treatments of psychiatric illnesses such as depression. To date, Muegge has raised more than $28,000 for One Mind Institute, an International Mental Health research organization funding brain science for brain health research programs.
Lisa Muegge’s legacy is the Feast of Plenty outreach program. She created and orchestrated this event that provides meals, supplies and toys for those in need in central and eastern Indiana. In its inaugural run 10 years ago, the outreach served 150 meals. In 2016, the outreach prepared, served and delivered more than 2,000 meals and 400 bags of groceries.
Muegge had always served this program alongside his mother, but since her passing, he has stepped into a larger role in working with event planners and assisting with collection of grocery items, meal donations and becoming more of a voice for the program his mother built.
Muegge has also used his athletic ability to serve the youth in his community. He has worked with young athletes at football, basketball, and baseball camps during the summer and winter seasons. He has also volunteered at the Nameless Creek Youth Camp, where he chopped wood, picked up trash, painted, raked leaves and laid gravel, and with the Christmas Outreach, where he clothes and toys donated for those in need.
Muegge is at the top of his class academically. He is also a four-year, three-sport letter winner. While a student at Eastern Hancock, Muegge has been involved with football, basketball, baseball, student council, National Honor Society, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He plans to study chemical engineering and follow a career path within industry or manufacturing.
“I have known AJ since sixth grade and can honestly state that I believe he is one of the most outstanding young men we have ever had in this school,” said Dave Pfaff, principal, Eastern Hancock High School.
Jenna Parsons, Greenfield-Central High School
For six years, band has been Jenna Parsons’ escape from the adversity she has faced, including an abusive home life. She wants to provide that same opportunity for other students someday, so she plans to study music education with the goal of becoming a school band director.
“Learning has always fascinated me, and education is something I value highly,” said Parsons. “Having the opportunity to grow and perform with an amazing group of students has helped me keep my head up and hopes high through high school. Being a band director would allow me to inspire and help students just as I have been.”
Parsons has participated in nearly every possible activity within the band program. For the last two seasons, she has been the drum major of the state runner-up Cougar Pride Marching Band. This role has allowed her to be a student leader, a mentor for newer members, and a liaison between staff and students. She has even begun tutoring a freshman trumpet player who was homeschooled during his seventh and eighth grade years and fell behind the level of his peers musically.
“You will have a hard time finding a student who works harder or longer to create great experiences for herself and the people around her,” said Chris Wing, Greenfield-Central High School director of bands. “Jenna has been recognized by her peers and our staff as a leader and example to follow.”
Parsons also has a heart for animals. Through PAWS, she has provided foster care for more than 70 dogs and several kittens. She developed the expertise to determine which dogs will be good choices for adoption when she goes to Indianapolis Animal Care Services. Once she takes the dogs home, she provides general care; she also takes the dogs to the vet for necessary shots, surgeries, and microchip.
One of Parsons most challenging fosters was Ladybug and her three nursing puppies. At first, Ladybug was terrified of everyone and everything and very protective of her pups. She would attack and bite anyone who came into the room. Parsons worked hard to socialize Lady, and eventually she learned to trust people and was adopted.
While a student at Greenfield-Central, Parsons has been involved with Student Council, Student Leadership Academy, German Club, and seven different bands.
Jacob Ackerman, New Palestine High School
Matthew Boyle, Mt. Vernon High School
Emily Ebbert, Eastern Hancock High School
McKayla Mohr, Greenfield-Central High School
Matthew Rollo, Mt. Vernon High School
Kaylee Russell, New Palestine High School