GREENFIELD — It was 4:29 p.m. when Maddie Lee received the call that would help set her future.
She and her mother sat in her bedroom, making small talk as they waited for the call to come.
The Eastern Hancock High School senior had been watching the phone for nearly a half hour to hear whether or not she’d receive a full ride to Indiana University next year as a Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipient.
Lee is one of two Hancock County seniors who received the award this year. She was chosen from eight finalists. Lee, the daughter of the late Mark Lee and his wife, Chris, plans to attend Indiana University next year, where she’ll study psychology and neuroscience in hopes of becoming a neurologist.
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The scholarship covers tuition for eight semesters at any Indiana college and provides a $900 yearly stipend for academic expenses. Lee was one of 48 seniors countywide who applied for the scholarship this year.
Representatives for the Hancock County Community Foundation, which administers the scholarship, told finalists the calls would start going out at 4 p.m., with the two recipients to be called last. As the minutes ticked by, Lee knew it was a good sign.
When the phone rang, Chris Lee left the room — too nervous to hear whether her daughter would be receiving good news. Just a few seconds passed before Lee called her mom back in; she had been chosen as the scholarship winner.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Lee said Monday, a week after receiving that call. “I still feel like it was a dream. … I’ve been thinking about the Lilly Scholarship for so long.”
In order to be considered for the Lilly Scholarship, students must be in the top 15 percent of their graduating class and have given back to their communities. Financial need is not a consideration for the scholarship.
Lee has spent most of her high school career involved in community service activities. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and tutors her peers and younger students at Eastern Hancock.
Beyond that, she’s a volunteer in the emergency room at Hancock Regional Hospital and works with the Royal Family Kids Camp, a recreational experience for children who have faced abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Chris Lee, with tears in her eyes, said she was overwhelmed with emotion when they heard Lee had been picked for the full-tuition scholarship.
Before her husband, Mark, died in January, the couple had talked about what the scholarship would mean for their family, she said.
Should she pursue her plans to become a pediatric neurologist, she’ll be in school for a long time — an education that will be costly. Now, she’ll be able to pursue her undergraduate education without the burden of a tuition bill.
“He would be so proud of her,” Chris Lee said.