Indiana State University Newsroom

President’s Scholars announced for 2018-19

August 6, 2018

Indiana State University has announced the recipients of its most prized scholarship for the 2018-2019 school year.

The President's Scholarship, awarded to 20 incoming freshmen, provides full in-state tuition and premium housing and has a total four-year value of more than $78,000. The recipients are chosen based on their academic performance in high school, personal accomplishments and interviews during an on-campus visit.

"This year's incoming class of President's Scholars were selected from the most competitive pool to date," said Sarah Wurtz, scholarships director at Indiana State. "Last winter, 254 students were invited to interview for the scholarship. We couldn't be more excited to welcome these talented students to our Honors College."

Recipients of the 2018-19 President's Scholarship include:

Benjamin Shepard of Coatesville, Ind., was a member of three indoor relay teams that won a state championship and a member of the 4x400m relay teams that made it to IHSAA state finals his junior and senior year. He plans to major in professional aviation flight technology.

"I chose State because everyone I talked to seemed more interested in helping me succeed as a person, rather than using me as a tool to make the university look good," Shepard said.

Courtney Owens of Bellevue, Neb., was a member of National Honor Society, Rebel member and team leader, Mu Alpha Theta, Mock Trial member and co-captain, class senate, Culinary Club, JV cheerleader and captain, Junior ROTC and a freshman mentor. She plans to major in dietetics.

"Since middle school, health and food have always been an interest of mine. As I began my search for colleges I wanted a school that fostered my passions but was still small enough to feel like home," Owens said. "After a lot of research with my parents, I found ISU and with God's blessings I am now a Sycamore! I am blessed to have found a university that carries a coordinated dietetics program and is still small enough to feel like a new home and everyone treats each other like family."

Colton Romine of Atwood, Ill., participated in basketball, bass fishing, FFA, WYSE and performed more than 50 hours of community service while attending high school. Romine plans to major in business administration.

"I chose Indiana State because of the welcoming atmosphere, as well as the opportunities available in the Networks Program," Romine said.

Dakota Brown of Marion, Ill., was elected Student Council president and participated in Math Team, Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering, Beta Club president, Future Farmers of America, Pep Club, Prom Committee and Scholar Bowl Member. She plans to pursue a major in pre-medicine.

"I have read studies show that campus tours are the biggest deciding factor on what school you will attend. From the minute that I stepped foot on ISU campus, they did not disappoint," Brown said. "Every time I am on campus, it is memorable. The staff and faculty are the most caring of any university I have visited and have done everything in their power to make my experience a great one. I would recommend any student take a look into ISU, as one step on campus could make you feel at home."

Garrett Maag of Kendallville, Ind., was a member of the baseball team, basketball team and student council. He plans to major in pre-medicine.

"As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I felt at home," Maag said.


Hannah DeBlock of Aledo, Ill., was involved in Key Club International, concert band, pep band, football dance team and basketball dance team during her time in high school. She plans to be a part of the Exploratory Studies Program at State.

"I chose Indiana State because the close-knit community truly made it feel like home, and the opportunities and experiences I will have cannot be found anywhere else," DeBlock said.

Hayley Medsker of Marshall, Ill., was valedictorian of her class, a member of Peers Actively Leading and Serving (PALS), the school's marching, concert and pep bands, Student Council, Science Club, Family and Consumer Science Club and Interact/Rotary Club. She was also a four-year varsity cheer squad member and captain, president of International Club, vice president of the Marshall Leadership Team, a member of the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) team, and historian of National Honor Society. She plans to pursue a major in athletic training.

"I chose ISU because of its outstanding athletic training program, which will help to prepare me for my future career as an occupational therapist, its dedication to helping the community through service and its proximity to my family in Marshall, Ill.," Medsker said.

Jillian Pelikan of Wheaton, Ill., was involved in cross-country, Student Council, Key Club, Tiger Christian Fellowship Club Leader, soprano section leader/ vocal captain in show choir, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and volunteer camp counselor at Special Camps while she was a high school student. Pelikan plans to major in speech-language pathology.

"I know ISU will offer me many challenging opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and reach my full potential, not only in the classroom, but also out in the community. If college doesn't challenge you, it won't change you," Pelikan said.

Kimberly Collins of Terre Haute was involved in the Interact Club, elected senior class treasurer, co-chairman of Student Ambassadors, National Honor Society, Vigo County Public Library volunteer and Teen Advisory Board member, Spell Bowl, Academic Super Bowl team, Student Council and Latin Club. She plans to major in marketing.

"Indiana State was the only school of the many that I visited that felt unique. On every campus visit, I found myself comparing other schools to Indiana State. Everything about ISU felt special," Collins said.

"ISU offers its students programs and opportunities unlike those of other schools in the region. Indiana State's distinctive size allows for personal connections with peers and professors while also promoting diverse interests. ISU also gives me the ability to stay close with my family as I create my Sycamore family. Everything about Indiana State, from its unique size to its distinctive programs, made it my dream school."

Karlee Cooper of Paragon, Ind., was involved in the Principal's Leadership Council, FFA, PLUS Seniors, competition dance team and a 4-H member while in high school. She plans to pursue a nursing degree.

"I chose ISU because of its welcoming nature and comforting, small campus feel, despite the actual size of its student body," Cooper said. "I thought it was a great match for a small-town girl like me. It also gives me plenty of options for extracurricular activities on and off campus."

Katharine Jensen of Normal, Ill., played softball and was on the high honor roll all four years. Jensen graduated summa cum laude. She plans to pursue a major in biology.

"I chose State because it was the first school I visited that felt like home right away. State offers so many amazing opportunities, and I cannot wait to be a part of this school," Jensen said.

Lillian Fann of Elkhart, Ind., was a member of the volleyball team, swim team and softball team while in high school. She was also the president of Student Council, a member of PEERS and a member of the Superintendent Student Advisory Council. Fann will pursue a degree in biology.

"The programs and educational opportunities provided at ISU are outstanding, and I know they will help me to discover my career path. Also, Indiana State has such an eclectic and diversified campus, which made it feel the most welcoming to me," Fann said.

Lauren James of Clifton, Ill., was involved in track and volleyball all four years, earning All-Area and All-County for track, along with National Honor Society, the Early College Program, Student Council, the Freshman Focus Program, the Spanish, Art, Book and Varsity clubs. She also earned the honor of being an Illinois State Scholar. James plans to pursue a degree in history.

"I choose State not only because it is a college that had everything that I could ever need academically, but as soon as I stepped foot on campus I felt like everyone I spoke to had my best interests in mind," James said.

Lindsey McConnaughey of Clinton, Ind., lettered all four years in soccer and tennis when she was in high school. She was also the National Honor Society vice president, in Academic Excellence and a 10-year 4-H member. She plans to major in special education.

"I chose Indiana State University because it has my major, special education, and it is built on community service, which I find extremely valuable. Overall, it was the best decision I have ever made, and I can't wait to start my next adventure as a Sycamore," McConnaughey said.

Luke Mundt of Watertown, Wis., played football, was a member of the band and more during high school. He became a manager at his job when he was only 17 and continued to seek personal improvement from the rest of his employment there. Mundt plans to pursue a degree in automotive engineering technology.

"I chose State because it gave me the opportunity to learn what I love without having to worry about how to pay for it," Mundt said.

Nicholas Castelluccio of West Chicago, Ill. During high school, he was a student ambassador, a member of National Honor Society and treasurer of FCCLA his senior year. He was also a member of the President's Council. Castelluccio plans to pursue a degree in elementary education.

"I've chosen ISU because the first time I took a tour of the campus it felt like home, and when I got to the Bayh College of Education, that's what sealed the deal for me. Every staff member and student that I encountered was warm and inviting," Castelluccio said. "I knew after taking a tour of the college, that ISU was the perfect school to continue my education and to prepare me to become the best teacher I can possibly be."

Sylvia Flagg of Westfield, Ind., was involved in National Honor Society, Rotary Interact, peer facilitation to work with those with mental disabilities and performed hours of volunteer work while she was in high school. She plans to major in psychology.

"Choosing Indiana State as my future was never a question for me. With such an inclusive campus community and well-rounded psychology program, State must be the place for someone like me. I can't wait to immerse myself into campus life here at State and to find my place with those who also love to help their community and others," Flagg said.

Tejas Kandharkar of Columbus, Ind., participated in varsity swimming, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Environmental Club and Principal's Diversity Council. Kandharkar plans to pursue a degree in pre-medicine.

"I chose ISU for the academic opportunities," Kandharkar said.


Taylor Neas of Beach Park, Ill., participated in a variety of sports in high school, including cross-country for four years, softball for three, basketball and track for one. She was also involved in the band, theater, Healthy YOUth drug prevention program, National Honor Society, Key Club and Zion Benton TV. Neas plans to pursue a degree in criminology and criminal justice.

"I chose State because the location and financial aid I was looking for, State provided. I also chose State because it has my major and an incredible Honors College, as well as many opportunities for me to expand my horizons," Neas said.

Thomas Stucker of Clayton, Ind., plans to pursue a degree in business administration.





Photo: -- Benjamin Shepard

Photo: -- Courtney Owens

Photo: -- Colton Romine

Photo: -- Dakota Brown

Photo: -- Garrett Maag

Photo: -- Hannah DeBlock

Photo: -- Hayley Medsker

Photo: -- Jillian Pelikan

Photo: -- Kimberly Collins

Photo: -- Karlee Cooper

Photo: -- Katharine Jensen

Photo: -- Lillian Fann

Photo: -- Lauren James

Photo: --- Lindsey McConnaughey

Photo: -- Luke Mundt

Photo: -- Nicholas Castelluccio

Photo: -- Sylvia Flagg

Photo: -- Tejas Kandharkar

Photo: -- Taylor Neas

Photo: -- Thomas Stucker

Writer and media contact: Connor Myers, media relations assistant, University Marketing, or 812-237-3773