ANDERSON — Good grades and a propensity for community service have helped two area senior high school students along their paths to the future.
Grace McKinney of Pendleton Heights High School and Tommy Manning of Lapel High School are Madison County’s recipients of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.
“I am so honored to be named a Lilly scholar. Quite frankly, I am still stunned and speechless. More than anything, I feel extremely grateful,” McKinney said. “For an outside organization to see something in who I am now and who I plan to become is really very humbling.”
The scholarships are administered by the Madison County Community Foundation.
They provide eight semesters of full tuition, required fees, and $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full time basis, leading to a baccalaureate degree at any Indiana public or private college or university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Applicants must be in the top 15% of their class academically after six semesters (end of junior year). Eight finalists were chosen before the two winners were announced earlier this month.
The daughter of Brad and Jill McKinney, Grace plans to continue her academic and athletic career at DePauw University in Greencastle. McKinney has been a state-qualifier and Hoosier Heritage Conference champion for the Arabians swim team. She will swim at DePauw and plans on double-majoring in bio-chemistry and kinesiology, specializing in genetics.
“I would love to be a clinical or research pharmacist and work in teams to create therapeutic solutions to large public health issues,” Grace McKinney said.
Along with doing well academically, Grace has spent a lot of weekends with her father volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, helping build homes in the area.
She added that her biggest influence has been her mother.
“Because of this award, I feel like I can envision my future,” Grace said.
“Being named a Lilly Scholar gives me the financial confidence to achieve my goal and the long haul of education. I am extremely grateful and humbled to be a part of this. It means so much to me.”
McKinney is a member of the school’s National Honor Society, Beta Club, and Drama Club.
Manning is the first Lapel recipient since 2013 (Philip Horstmeyer). He and his twin sister, Ellie, who ranks No. 1 in the LHS senior class, both applied for the scholarship. An older brother, Benjamin Manning, is studying at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and was a finalist for the award.
“I am quite excited (to get the scholarship),” Tommy said. “I have known about the scholarship for a long time. My brother was a finalist. I knew about it and knew I wanted it. I know how strongly he worked for it and how strongly my sister worked for it.
“(Ellie) is the most gracious and supportive person. She was ecstatic when I read my email that I was first a finalist. She was wonderful, so fantastic about it.”
The Lapel senior wants to study medicine at either DePauw University or at the University of Notre Dame. He strives to use his degree to be a general practitioner.
“In talking to Lilly and my experience with the interview, the people who receive the Lilly award, it isn’t all grades. I thought it would be. What they’re looking for is someone to represent Lilly for their entire life. People skills really mattered.
“Grades, your essays, your writing got you through the door, but they wanted young people that would represent Lilly for the next 10 years and for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Tommy is the son of Matthew and Elizabeth Manning, who are both pastors.
Among his community activities, he helps out where his father pastors, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Anderson, volunteering with Helping Hands Food Pantry, the largest food pantry in the area.
He has also volunteered in the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Regional Hospital.
Among his biggest influences is his grandfather, Gary Manning, who passed away earlier this summer.
At school, he has been a member of the cross country and track-and-field teams along with being the president of National Honor Society, the Spanish Club Senior Council, and Bulldog Mentors; he plays saxophone in the school’s jazz, pep and concert bands.
“(Receiving the scholarship) really means something to me,” Tommy Manning said. “I am forever now tied to and representing Eli Lilly. That is something that is incredible.
“They are such a wonderful organization and philanthropic force in Indiana, and they saw something in me. They recognized that I can aid them on their mission and they want to invest in me because of that. They have a good mission. They support art, poverty, religion and are a huge and important force in Indiana, and I am a Hoosier. It is my state and it is important to me. They see that in me and want to support me and my mission to support them.”
“He’s just a great kid. Lilly Endowment picked a great candidate,” Lapel High School Principal John Willis said. “He’s a positive person that comes to school every day with a smile on his face and he’s always willing to help people. He can lead, but he can also be part of a team and not be the leader. That’s a great quality. He can influence people by his actions.”
Other county finalists were Abigail Duncan of Frankton High School, Dalton Greer of Anderson High School, Hayden Hornocker of Anderson Preparatory Academy, Emaline Mercer of Liberty Christian High School, Kendall Parker of Alexandria High School and Cameron Tackett of Elwood High School.
In the selection process, applications were reviewed by a committee of community members. Reviews are completed anonymously without disclosure of student or parent identity. Each Lilly finalist who is not selected as a recipient is awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Madison County Community Foundation.
The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are 1) to 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.