JASPER COUNTY — Rensselaer Central senior Sarah Mahnesmith has received the 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Jasper County.

Mahnesmith, the daughter of Christine and Pat Scheurich and the late Kent Mahnesmith, plans to study political science/pre-law at Butler University in the fall.

Serving as alternates for the scholarship are Kankakee Valley seniors Karissa Murray (first alternate) and Hanna Gutwein (second alternate).

Mahnesmith is a member of the National Honor Society at RCHS and serves as president of the Student Council as well as the student body. She is an Indiana representative for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Leadership Council, a Rising Star of Indiana for the Class of 2020, a 10-year 4-H member and club president, a member of St. Augustine Youth Ministry and is actively involved in tutoring students and other volunteer activities.

She also competes in cross country and track for the Bombers.

Sid Dobson, a teacher at RCHS and cross country coach, had Mahnesmith as part of his distance team the past four years.

“In my role as a teacher/coach, I have come to realize that highly successful people are well-rounded individuals that aspire to attainable life goals,” he said. “As the 2020 Lilly Scholarship winner, Sarah Mahnesmith reflects these traits. Sarah Mahnesmith excels in her service to her community, to her church, and to her school. Sarah is a rare student/athlete who gives her all every day. Congratulations to Sarah; she is truly deserving of this awesome honor. She will make us all proud.”

Murray is the daughter of Robert and Brandi Murray and plans to study health sciences/pre-medicine at Purdue University. She serves as vice-president of National Honor Society at KV and won KVHS’s Distinguished Leadership Award.

President of the Student Council, she designed and completed the Positive Affirmation Walls Project at the high school, serves as Class Senator, and is a Royal Family Kids’ Camp counselor.

She is also actively involved in various community projects and school clubs.

Gutwein is the daughter of Travis and Lisa Gutwein and plans to study marketing at Purdue.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, serves as senior class treasurer as well as president of Indiana Business Professionals of America Region 1 and a regional, state and national qualifier for BPA. She is actively involved in various community projects and school clubs and is a member of the KV tennis team in the spring.

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program was created by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. to: 1. 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.

Begun in 1998, the program offers four-year, full-tuition scholarships to selected Indiana students who intend to work toward a baccalaureate degree at any accredited public or private nonprofit college or university in Indiana. The scholarship also provides $900 per year for required books and equipment.

• Number of scholarships provided to date: 4769

• Total provided by the Lilly Endowment for tuition and book stipend to date: over $405M

ª Total number of scholarships awarded in 2019-2020: 143

The program is administered statewide by Independent Colleges of Indiana and locally by the community foundations or affiliates in each of Indiana’s 92 counties. Persons interested in information about the program should first contact their local community foundation. High school guidance counselors generally can also provide information.

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship has an extensive application process in Jasper/Newton counties. Students complete an initial online application and essay. This pool of applicants is then narrowed down by the local Lilly Committee to the finalists who are invited to the interview step of the process. Much like a job interview, students are asked questions about their personal and professional goals, as well as some of the major influences in their lives. It is an intense process but well worth the effort. Just completing the application and confidently accomplishing the interview provides a wealth of experience that will serve these students in many areas of their lives. Nominees are then forwarded to ICI for final selection of the recipient.