On Monday evening, a group of the Region’s most dedicated and driven students were honored at the Legacy Foundation Annual Scholarship Dinner at the Croatian Center Banquet Hall in Merrillville. The evening awarded more than 30 deserving scholars with scholarships provided by various fund-holders, each of them special in their own right, but equally noteworthy.
“We love this event,” said Carolyn Saxton, President of Legacy Foundation. “It gives us the opportunity to recognize so many talented young people and their families, as well as our donors.”
Students and guests were treated to dinner before scholars were called to the stage, each receiving awards for either general scholarships, four-year scholarships, or the prestigious Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. Created in 1998, the Lilly Endowment award provides full tuition scholarships, for four years, to any public or private college or university in Indiana.
“The hope for this scholarship is that it will encourage our outstanding students to attend one of Indiana’s fine higher educational institutions,” Saxon continued. “We also hope that they consider pursuing their occupations in Indiana, hopefully Northwest Indiana in particular, after graduation.”
Out of over 230 applications submitted, only six were chosen to represent Lake County Indiana as the 2019 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars. This year’s recipients were Ariana Arce, Alyssa Arreola, Chloe Flanagan, Patrick Hottle, Meet Patel, and Tyler Zabrecky.
Four-year scholarship recipient Kasseidi Lessentine was honored with the John W. Anderson Scholarship, which awarded her with $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years). After making her way into the last few finalists, Lessentine was chosen for the scholarship after a personal interview with a panel of 5 judges.
“It was pretty personal and a bit scary, but overall it’s basically about how involved you are in your community, your school, and how impactful it all was for you,” Lessentine said. “It really focusses on what you’ve done for others, and what you’re looking to do in your community after college.”
Lessentine certainly doesn’t fall short in this category, as she has quite the resume of community involvement that speaks for itself.
“I’m a big advocate for my church,” Lessentine said. “I attend services, volunteer in our faith kids services for preschool through fifth grade, and help out with middle school and high school youth groups.”
Lissentine also provides tutoring services three times a week for three different families.
“It’s a pretty hectic schedule at times,” Lissentine said. “But, overall, I really do love my community, and I’m really big on giving back!”
With two siblings entering college this year as well, Lissentine was more than grateful for being chosen.
“My family and I cried when we found out,” Lissentine continued. “I’m a triplet, so having this financial aid and knowing that a big portion of my college tuition was already paid for was a huge burden off our shoulders. It felt like everything I did throughout high school and all those stressful nights paid off.”
These life-changing scholarships give local students the recognition they deserve, and provide them with opportunities for education they might not have had otherwise. This would not be possible without the donations of the many generous fund-holders who seek to give back to the community by investing in the futures of our young people. Particularly touching is the story of fund-holder Heather McCarthy, donor for the O-Shea Patrick McCarthy Scholarship.
“My son Shea passed away in 2013; afterwards his friends got together and wanted to do a memorial for him,” McCarthy said. “They wanted to exhibit his artwork and music, and it was a very nice evening.”
That evening celebration of Shea’s life turned into a legacy, as a donation fund was started for kids who are pursuing either science or the arts in their higher education.
“We made it into not only a celebration of his life, but also an opportunity for people to donate to the education of kids like him,” McCarthy continued.
This is the third year this scholarship is being presented, and $30,000 in scholarship funds have been raised thus far. McCarthy says the dinner is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the young students who will carry on Shea’s legacy through the receiving of his scholarship.
“My son was a very unique young man, but there are bits and pieces of him in all the recipients,” McCarthy said. “Whether their interest is science or the arts, it’s an amazing way to carry on his legacy, and I love meeting all of them.”
“Tonight is just the beginning of the great things these young people will do,” Saxton concluded. “They will no doubt have a profound impact, and we can’t wait to see what experiences they will bring to the world in years to come.”
To find out more about the Legacy Foundation, visit them here.