EH grad works to help others pay for college

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EASTERN HANCOCK — Helping other students pay for college was the goal. Thanks to the help from officials with the Hancock County Community Foundation, 2021 Eastern Hancock graduate Mikala Linstrum will be assisting others for the next 25 years.

Last school year, Eastern Hancock teacher Greg Judy challenged Linstrum, a senior at the time, to consider a way she could leave a legacy at Eastern Hancock and in the community. She decided to propose a Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) specific scholarship to the Hancock County Community Foundation.

Linstrum is currently a freshman at Ball State University studying communications. She met with the foundation last spring before she graduated high school to share her idea. The representatives liked her proposal, as well as her gumption, and went to work to find a donor.

Just recently, The William W. Weil Foundation decided to sponsor Linstrum’s idea for the scholarship and donated a total of $25,000. It means $1,000 will be awarded annually to one JAG student from either EH, Greenfield-Central or Mt. Vernon each year.

“It really means a lot to know I’m going to be able to help 25 people over the next 25 years,” Linstrum said. “That means a lot to me because I really value my education and I want others to value it too.”

Getting the chance to help others get funding to continue their education while also leaving a legacy was important for Linstrum.

“I’m the first person in my family to go to college, and it’s real important for me to have that opportunity and help others have that chance too,” she said. “Every bit of money helps — I know if I didn’t have the scholarships I have, I would not be going to college.”

Applicants will be considered based on community service work, an essay and financial need. The HCCF will begin accepting applications for this scholarship during the 2022-23 school year with the first award set to be presented, by Linstrum, to the class of 2023.

“I am so proud of Mikala for working to make this happen,” Judy said. “She is going to touch a lot of lives for the next 25 years.”

Judy, who teaches the JAG class, which is a workforce pipeline program, challenged her to do a senior project. Linstrum came up with the idea to do something specifically for JAG students. Judy referred her to go through the school’s guidance counselor, who put her in touch with the HCCF.

“Mikala worked really hard through her whole high school career,” Judy said. “She’s intrinsically motivated and did a great job with this.”

Linstrum noted the JAG program helped her tremendously when she was in high school to focus and gain new-found confidence about life after graduation.

“It’s a career readiness class,” Linstrum said. “We work a lot about learning things for job interviews, and I’d have to say it helped me a lot with learning about professionalism.”

Typically students are in Judy’s JAG class for one or maybe two years, but Mikala started her sophomore year, so by the time she was a senior she had mastered the class content, Judy said.

That forced Judy to think outside the box and create something new for Linstrum to do. Judy has been a teacher at the school for the past 11 years and said it’s rewarding to see students like Linstrum move onto great things like attending college while still wanting to reach out and help others get there as well.

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