Receptions Surprise Regional 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Recipients

Southwestern Indiana – Recipients of the annual Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties were celebrated in their schools last week during surprise – and often emotional – scholarship award receptions attended by family, friends, and school staff. County scholarship committee and advisory board members, as well as Kristi Rhule, Community Foundation Alliance Regional Scholarship Manager for the 4 counties, represented the Community Foundations to award each of the scholarships. (More, below images.)

As Lilly Endowment Community Scholars, each recipient is awarded a full-tuition scholarship, plus a $900 yearly stipend for required books and equipment, throughout four years of full-time undergraduate study leading to a baccalaureate degree at any Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Offered state-wide, the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program is highly competitive. Applicants are evaluated by each county Community Foundation scholarship committee based on a number of criteria, including academics, extracurricular and community involvement, essays, and interviews. The finalists’ names are then submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) for final selection of the recipient. The Community Foundation Alliance of Evansville coordinates administration of the program for all its 9 county affiliate Community Foundations. ICI provides statewide oversight of the program, representing Indiana’s 30 private, non-profit, regionally-accredited colleges and universities. There were 143 scholarships awarded across Indiana.

2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars for Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties are:

Elizabeth Spindler, a senior at Gibson Southern High School in Gibson County, the daughter of Kevin and Jennifer Spindler of Haubstadt. She intends to pursue a course of study in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and pursue a career as an audiologist. In addition to being a member of her school’s Academic Teams, she has been active in the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Spanish Club, Sunshine Society, Titan mentor program, pep club, choir, and numerous theater productions, and played volleyball in her freshman and sophomore years. Throughout high school, Spindler has worked in childcare with young children, pet care, and as a tutor, as well as being an active volunteer in her church community.

Lindsey Koester, a senior at North Posey High School in Posey County, the daughter of Dale and Lisa Koester of Wadesville. She plans to pursue nursing and hopes to eventually return to Posey County to help improve rural healthcare. Koester is ranked first in her class and is Senior Class President & Student Council President. She competed with the Interdisciplinary Academic Team; served as FFA President, winning 2 National awards, 14 state awards, and 17 local awards; placed and won state awards at the National Science Fair; is a member of the National Honor Society; and has volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She has also been active in dance, track, and cheerleading, receiving 10 varsity letters in all and was given the Sportsmanship Award by her peers in 2016. Koester has held 3 jobs concurrently throughout high school, tutors, is active in 4H, winning numerous local and state awards, secured grants for community volunteer activities, and is a Church Youth Leader.

Maansi Asthana, a senior at Signature School in Vanderburgh County, the daughter of Himanshu and Roli Asthana of Evansville. Asthana intends to study engineering. Asthana is active in the Spanish, Math, and Robotics clubs, the Student Council, on the cross-country and track teams, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is a swimming instructor and active volunteer at the YMCA. She has volunteered with cMoe, Habitat for Humanity, and Uncharted International. A violinist, Asthana has been a soloist and a member of the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra since 2012.

Alena Coleman, a senior at Memorial High School in Vanderburgh County, the daughter of Joseph Coleman of Evansville and Amy Abuasabeh of Indianapolis. Coleman intends to pursue studies in political science and English. Coleman has won numerous academic awards and recognition for her participation in the Academic Decathlon at both the state and national levels and been active with the Drama Club and in marching band. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a 4-year homeroom representative with Student Council. Active in Girl Scouts, Coleman has received seven Journey Awards, the Leadership Pin, the Bronze Award and Silver Award, and the Bronze Presidential Medal of Volunteer Service. She is also very active in the Good Shepherd Catholic Parish Youth Ministry.

Maria Sermersheim, a senior at Memorial High School in Vanderburgh County, the daughter of Keith and Connie Sermersheim of Evansville. She intends to study biochemistry and pursue a career in pediatric oncology. She has been a writer for The Message, a weekly news publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Evansville, and has worked retail and service jobs, as well as babysitting. School activities include the Key Club, Teens for Life, Link Crew, and Cover to Cover Book Club. Sermersheim is a member of the National Honor Society. Her community volunteer work has included extensive activity with the Good Shepherd Youth Ministry, St John’s Daylight Youth Group, and the Youth Resources’ Teen Advisory Council.

Cameron Vaughn, a senior at Castle High School in Warrick County, the son of David and Kathy Vaughn of Newburgh. Vaughn plans study biology to become a veterinarian. He has worked at Chateau Dog & Cat Hospital as a kennel technician, and has volunteered as a Mesker Park Zoo and Botanical Gardens Zoo Teen and with Community One in Evansville. Vaughn has participated in cross country track and field and archery at Castle, as well as been a violinist with the U of E Suzuki Program and the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Vaughn has been the recipient of the National Merit Scholarship Commended Student award, the Evansville Courier & Press Star Student Award, and the Castle High School Scholastic ‘C’ Award. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Japanese National Honor Society.

Rhadha Patel, a senior at Castle High School in Warrick County, the daughter of Roopesh and Bhavna Patel of Newburgh. She plans to study neuroscience and pursue a career in medicine. Patel, a varsity athlete in volleyball and tennis, is also a member of the Evansville River City Volleyball Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, Math Club, and Business Professionals of America. At Castle, she serves as President of the Key Club, Founder and President of Global Medical Brigades Club, Vice President of the Spanish Club, and Treasurer of the Games with Grandparents Club. Patel maintained a full Advanced Placement academic schedule and spent summers volunteering at the St Vincent Hospital gift shop.

The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 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. Since the program was first offered in 1998, Lilly Endowment has remained steadfast in its belief that education at all levels is indispensable to the personal, civic and economic well-being of Indiana’s residents and communities.

For more information about regional scholarship opportunities in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties through the Community Foundation Alliance, contact Kristi Rhule, Regional Scholarship Manager at (304) 541-4811 or