HANCOCK COUNTY – Eight high school seniors are a step closer to receiving a full-ride scholarship.

The Hancock County Community Foundation has announced the finalists from a pool of more than 60 applicants for the Lilly Endowment Scholarship, which yearly pays for two county students’ education, said community foundation president Mary Gibble.

Applicants must be in the top 15 percent of their class and plan to pursue a four-year degree at an Indiana college. Lilly Endowment Inc., which funds the scholarships, is a private philanthropic organization founded in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly and Co.

Hancock County has participated in the Lilly Foundation Scholarship program since 1998, Gibble said. After the application period ends, the applications are sent to third-party readers outside of the county to be narrowed down to the finalists, said education officer Katie Ottinger.

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A selection committee will interview the finalists and then the committee’s picks will go to be approved by the Lilly Endowment. They’ll be announced by Dec. 9, Ottinger said. All finalists win a $1,000 scholarship provided by the foundation, Gibble said.

While each participating community foundation has somewhat different guidelines for what constitutes the best candidate, Hancock County’s Lilly Scholars are picked with emphasis on community service, Gibble said.

“We’re honored that Lilly gives us this opportunity,” she said. “We’re honored they give us the flexibility to find individuals who represent the community incredibly well.”

Eastern Hancock High School 

AJ Muegge

Muegge, who lost his mother, Lisa Muegge, in 2016 after her battle with depression, has raised more than $28,000 for One Mind Institute, an international mental health research organization.

While a student at Eastern Hancock, Muegge has been involved with football, basketball, student council, National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He plans to study chemical engineering and follow a career path within industry or manufacturing.

Emily Ebbert

Ebbert plans to pursue a degree in mental health and addiction counseling. Last year, she and a friend created a group called “No More Silence” to educate Eastern Hancock students about mental illness in teens and support services available. She volunteers with Destiny Color Guard, an organization for children with physical or intellectual disabilities.

She has served her hometown’s fire department, Shirley Volunteer Fire Department, for more than 300 hours.

She is involved with the Shirley Visionaries Group, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life in Shirley. While a student as Eastern Hancock High School, Ebbert has been involved in Color Guard, cross country, and the Science Academic Team. She is also active with the Greenfield Church of Christ youth group.

Greenfield-Central High School 

McKayla Mohr

Mohr has volunteered for Partners for Animal Welfare Society for 11 years. She has spent five years as a volunteer for United States Equine Rescue League and two years volunteering for Last Call K9’s Dog Rescue.

She plans to study animal science in college and follow a pre-veterinary career path. While a student at Greenfield-Central, Mohr has been involved with the National FFA, 4-H, the Elanco/Covance Career Exploring Program. She has also served as a manager for the track team.

Jenna Parsons

Parsons plans to study music education with the goal of becoming a school band director. For the last two seasons, she has been the drum major of the state runner-up Cougar Pride Marching Band. She has fostered more than 70 animals through PAWS. While a student at Greenfield-Central, Parsons has been involved with Student Council, Student Leadership Academy, German Club and seven different bands.

Mt. Vernon High School 

Matthew Boyle

Boyle arranged for patrons of the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen to receive free eye exams and glasses through the Ossip Day of Giving, an annual event providing free eye exams, glasses, lunch and a take-home bag of essential living items. He worked with Ossip Optometry, Mt. Vernon Community School Corp., the soup kitchen and the Hope House to coordinate the service. He regularly volunteers at the soup kitchen.

For the past four years, Boyle has also served as a role model for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. While a student at Mt. Vernon, Boyle has also been involved with Student Government, Best Buddies, baseball, Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad. He plans to study engineering next school year.

Matthew Rollo

Rollo plans to study history with the ultimate goal of becoming an international lawyer with UNICEF. While at Mt.Vernon, he has been involved with the social studies and fine arts academic teams, band, French Club, Asia Club and German Club.

He has spent about 200 hours volunteering and fundraising for Relay for Life. He has volunteered with the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, helping the organization accumulate resources to benefit classrooms. For four years, he has volunteered at the McCordsville Elementary School spring fling to help raise money for the school through the PTO.

New Palestine High School

Kaylee Russell

Russell serves as her school’s president of Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that pairs students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with people without disabilities to promote inclusion and equality. She also volunteers with Families United for Support and Encouragement, an organization that provides information, resources and support for Indiana families with special needs.

While a student at New Palestine High School, Russell has been involved with Helping Hands, Student Council and National Honor Society. She has also volunteered at Hope Center Indy, Doe Creek Middle School and with Brookville Road Community Church.

Jacob Ackerman

Ackerman has served in a variety of organizations and programs serving children, including the Plug Into Nature Camp at Nameless Creek Youth Camp, the Upward Basketball Program at United Methodist Church, Helping One Student to Succeed, an elementary reading program, and a mission trip to Mexico at an orphanage.

While a student at New Palestine, Ackerman has been involved with National Science Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, intramural basketball and Brookville Road Community Church leadership team. He plans to study kinesiology with the goal of becoming a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

The finalists

Hancock County Community Foundation selected eight students, two from each county high school, as finalists for the 2017 Lilly Scholarship, which provides all the costs of attending an Indiana college or university for the recipient. The winners will be announced in December.

Eastern Hancock High School

  • Emily Ebbert
  • AJ Muegge

Greenfield-Central High School

  • McKayla Mohr
  • Jenna Parsons

Mt. Vernon High School

  • Matthew Boyle
  • Matthew Rollo

New Palestine High School

  • Jacob Ackerman
  • Kaylee Russell
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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.