Bishop Noll Institute senior Maria Emilia Quiroga arrived at school Wednesday ready for a typical day. She read the school’s morning announcements over the P.A. system, as she does often, with no idea that one special announcement would soon change her life.
Quiroga, a leader on Bishop Noll’s Speech Team and an integral part of its Campus Ministry program, finished the announcements, then led the school in prayer.
Soon after, BNI Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick took to the microphone to share the exciting news with the school that Quiroga had been awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. The award provides four years of full tuition, required fees and a yearly book stipend for any public or private Indiana college or university.
“I feel so blessed to have earned a scholarship that allows me to focus on my education without the financial burden,” Quiroga said.
On hand for the presentation and delivering flowers to Quiroga was Jodi Kateiva from the Legacy Foundation, which administers the Lilly Scholarship program in Lake County. Quiroga is one of only six Lake County current seniors to receive the scholarship and is Bishop Noll's 13th Lilly Scholar since the statewide program began in 1998.
“I’m really proud of all the achievements that have led me here, big and small,” she said. “Whether it was speaking at Bishop Noll’s Centennial gala or getting an A on my sophomore English test that I studied for. Every single thing and achievement that I’ve had here at BNI has led me to this, and I’m so grateful.
“I’m excited for all the opportunities ahead and all the doors that have opened. I am also so extremely grateful for all the teachers and faculty at Bishop Noll who have helped me get this scholarship. This was not an effort I made alone. Most importantly, I would love to thank my mom, who is the reason for all my achievements. I don’t have words in my vocabulary to thank her.”
Quiroga’s talents shine at Bishop Noll, where she serves as a Student Ambassador and is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Women's Empowerment Club, Hispanic Student Union, Biology Club and the dance team. A resident of Schererville and a graduate of St. Thomas More School in Munster, she plans to study marketing in college.
Bishop Noll Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick said Quiroga encompasses what she wants all BNI students to be.
“She pushes herself, she perseveres, and she does so with grace and humility as she genuinely displays what it means to be a missionary disciple,” Pastrick said. “Of course, the Lilly Scholarship is a great accomplishment, but knowing Maria, I am confident this will be one of many more accomplishments that she will achieve in her near and far future. I have seen her come in as a timid freshman, withstand a pandemic, and become a model leader in our school community.”
The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are: 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally, and in local communities throughout the state.
Lilly Endowment Community Scholars participate in the Lilly Scholars Network, which connects both current scholars and alumni with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. The scholarship program and scholars network are supported by grants from the Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana and Indiana Humanities.