At Tippecanoe Valley High School Thursday morning, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation announced senior Nolan Sponseller was one of two 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars. He will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the Indiana college of his choice. He will be attending Taylor University. Pictured (L to R) are, front row: Bryan Sponseller, Nolan Sponseller, Lisa Sponseller, Isaac Sponseller, KCCF Executive Director Suzie Light; back row: Tippecanoe Valley High School Principal Kirk Doehrmann and KCCF Board Member Jim McFadden. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
At Tippecanoe Valley High School Thursday morning, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation announced senior Nolan Sponseller was one of two 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars. He will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the Indiana college of his choice. He will be attending Taylor University. Pictured (L to R) are, front row: Bryan Sponseller, Nolan Sponseller, Lisa Sponseller, Isaac Sponseller, KCCF Executive Director Suzie Light; back row: Tippecanoe Valley High School Principal Kirk Doehrmann and KCCF Board Member Jim McFadden. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
AKRON – When the Kosciusko County Community Foundation Thursday morning wanted to announce a Tippecanoe Valley High School senior was a 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar, Principal Kirk Doehrmann had the entire student body gather in the gymnasium.
After KCCF Executive Director Suzie Light announced the scholarship recipient was Nolan Sponseller and why he was one of only two students in the county to get the scholarship, his peers gave him a standing ovation. Nolan’s parents, Bryan and Lisa Sponseller, were already crying with happiness. They had been told to come to the school for another reason so the announcement was a surprise to them as well as Nolan.
The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships are four-year, full-tuition scholarships to the Indiana colleges of the recipients’ choice. The other Lilly Scholar for Kosciusko County is Warsaw Community High School senior Sarah Boyle.
After the presentation, Lisa said she was “thrilled, happy for him, honored.”
“He’s just always been a self-motivated kid,” she continued. “We’ve always supported him in everything he’s done but he’s a self-driven kid. We’ve always told him to dream big.”
Asked if he was surprised, Bryan said, “We always hoped. He’s ambitious. We always said he wore us out. We always thought there was a chance. I’m proud of all three of my kids. I’m blessed. They’re all good students. I married well.”
Nolan said he was “definitely surprised.”
“I definitely didn’t expect it – all the well-qualified applicants. I thought I had a slim-to-none shot,” Nolan said.
Along with the scholarships he received from Taylor University, he said the endowment means he won’t have to pay anything for college.
“It relieves a lot of financial stress. It helps more than words can describe,” he said.
According to information provided by the KCCF, Nolan is ranked second in his graduating class. He plans to attend Taylor University to study developmental economics.
He was a four-year member of the student council and served as president of his junior and senior class. He was a three-year member of National Honor Society, a four-year varsity football player, a four-year member of varsity track, a two-year member of Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy, a three-year member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Key Club, and a two-year member of FFA.
His community activities have been extensive and include philanthropy groups Kosciusko Endowment Youth Services and Dekko Foundation’s youth philanthropy group Pfish. His volunteer work has included Habitat for Humanity and Isaiah 11 Ministry, among many others. He also has work experience as a farm hand and as a stocker for a pet supply store.
Sponseller’s references were excellent, according to the KCCF information.
In Kosciusko County, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation recommends recipients of the scholarships to Independent Colleges of Indiana for final selection. The process is “blind” in that committee members do not have access to student names when reviewing applications.
Consideration for the scholarship is given to academics, community services, extracurricular involvement, work experience, references and essay responses.
ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.
The scholarships are a result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree. There were 143 scholarships awarded statewide, according to the information.