Legacy Foundation awards Lilly Endowment stipends

January 1, 2017

Through his nonprofit, ThinkBrave Foundation, high school student Drake Abramson has awarded more than $1,500 in scholarships in the past three years.

This year, he will be the one receiving a scholarship, along with five other students selected for their outstanding achievement, character and community service.

Legacy Foundation officials recently awarded Lake County Lilly Endowment community scholarships to Abramson of Edison High in Lake Station, Alexander Fitt of Highland High, Jodie James of Lowell High, Hailey Jenkins of Hobart High, Perima Shah of Munster High and Alyssa Vargas of Calumet New Tech High. The scholarship covers four years of undergraduate tuition, plus a yearly book stipend, for any public or private Indiana college or university.

“Again this year we were encouraged and inspired by the high caliber of students in the Lake County. It brings optimism to see these young adults who will no doubt be leaders in our community one day, whether it be on the political, medical or business front,” said Jodi Kateiva, Legacy Foundation Scholarship administrator.

Abramson started the ThinkBrave Foundation to promote epilepsy education and awareness and raise scholarship funds for students with health challenges.

“I had my first recognized seizure on the football field when I was in seventh grade,” Drake said. “When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I decided to take my love of football and my passion for raising awareness and put them together for a good cause.”

Abramson is on the football and wrestling teams at Edison where he also is a member of National Honor Society and class council. He plans to pursue a degree in political science and law at Notre Dame.

Fitt, a senior at Highland, plans to study biochemistry at Indiana University next fall. He is the varsity golf team captain. He has been student government class treasurer and class representative for four years. Fitt also is a custodian for the local community center and works at Blue Top Drive-In Diner. He is an assistant athletic trainer at school and he teaches Bible study to preschool students.

James plans to study political science at Indiana University. She is a member of National Honor Society, Academic Decathlon and student council. She is captain of the fencing team, a young adult committee member for Community of Christ Chicagoland and a member of Lowell’s Distinguished Young Women.

James’ teacher said, “Jodie is a major talent, thinker, and scholar. Her future does not offer questions about her success; her future offers questions of where she will want to make her mark.”

Jenkins plans to study human biology at Indiana University. In addition to being a founding member of TedX Hobart High, Jenkins is president of student government and National Honor Society. She is a member of Psychology Club, Academic Super Bowl, Booster Club and Brickie Freshmen Ambassadors.

Shah serves as student government treasurer, historian and senior representative at Munster High. She was chess team captain for three years and is a varsity debate team member. She has aspirations of becoming a doctor and worked for two summers at Purdue University Northwest performing particle physics research. She is HUM Youth Group president at the Indian American Cultural Center and volunteers at St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home. Shah plans to attend Indiana University.

Vargas will be a first-generation college student when she attends Purdue University next fall where she plans to study biology. “This scholarship money will give me the opportunity to truly thrive and make the most out of my college experience,” said Vargas.

Vargas is varsity volleyball team captain at Calumet New Tech. She is a freshman mentor, school tour guide and marching band leader. She volunteers as an elementary school volleyball coach and as a tutor.

More than 250 applications were submitted from high schools throughout Lake County. Legacy Foundation’s scholarship committee interviewed applicants from 25 high schools and submitted six finalists to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc.