Seymour senior receives prestigious Lilly scholarship

Keith and Christin Rudge already have one child, Emily, in college.

In the fall, their second-oldest child, Andrew Rudge, a senior at Seymour High School, will begin his postsecondary journey. Then they have Josiah Rudge, a junior at Seymour, and Addie Rudge, a sophomore, who will be deciding their paths.

That’s a big expense now and in the future for the family.

But Andrew recently received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, providing a big relief. That gives him full tuition to the Indiana college of his choice and a $900 yearly stipend for required books and equipment. He plans to attend Purdue University and study mechanical engineering.

Andrew said he had applied for more than 50 scholarships. This one will make a big difference.

“It was definitely what I was really hoping for,” Andrew said with a smile.

His parents smiled, too.

“It’s just such a blessing, and I’m just so proud and happy,” Christin said. “We’re just very, very grateful and feel very honored.”

Rudge was one of 94 seniors from all five county schools who applied for the scholarship.

“That just makes it mean that much more,” he said. “I definitely put in a lot of time to be able to qualify myself.”

Rudge learned of the news one day at school when he was at lunch. Guidance counselor Randy Fife had him come to his office, where they met Sue Smith, vice president of the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

“It was a big surprise and a big honor,” Rudge said. “It didn’t sink in right away. It definitely will in the fall when I have a little bit less to worry about financially.”

Christin Rudge said she received the news via text message from her husband.

“I was just grinning from ear to ear,” she said. “Then after the fact, to hear that there were 94 applicants, I was walking on cloud nine for a while.”

Rudge said the honor also could help him in another way.

“I’ve been applying for an internship up in Indy that has to do with engineering, and being able to put that on a résumé is really good since I might be up against some applicants who already have been through their first year of college,” he said. “It just means a lot to be able to have that on a résumé.”

Rudge said he had applied for scholarships throughout his senior year. Last summer, he received a merit-based scholarship through the Hoosier Boys State program.

Christin Rudge said Seymour High School regularly updates its website with information about scholarships, and the community foundation provides a central application that can be used for several different scholarships.

With the Lilly scholarship, criteria for selection include academic achievement; school and community activities showing depth of involvement and leadership; employment showing time management and a desire to help oneself; Advanced Placement and honors classes taken in high school; an essay; and evidence of financial need.

After the community foundation’s scholarship committee narrowed the field, Rudge’s name was submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc. for the final selection of the recipient.

“The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Indiana students reach higher levels of education,” Smith said.

This spring, there were 143 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships awarded statewide.

Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the community foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows, said Dan Davis, the foundation’s president and CEO.

“Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the foundation brought other partners from across the county together to establish the Jackson County Learning Center, and we remain committed to that goal,” Davis said. “It is certainly part of our guiding efforts in administering scholarship funds entrusted to the foundation.”

At school, Rudge has been involved in band, choir, student government, National Honor Society, Key Club, Academic Super Bowl, Chess Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Indiana Math League and tennis.

“Ever since middle school, I knew that being involved in clubs and different organizations was really important coming to this part of your life,” Rudge said. “Through this process, I realized how my skills have been developed being in different leadership positions in National Honor Society and student government.”

Rudge also took as many Advanced Placement courses as possible.

Outside school, he participated in a variety of volunteer activities, including ringing the bell for Salvation Army and using his musical talents. It helps that several school clubs have built-in volunteer opportunities.

“Between my vice president and president terms with National Honor Society, we raised the hours limit from 20 to 40 hours,” he said. “That’s a lot of kids in the school putting in more hours and being more involved.”

Including Rudge, there are now 34 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars from Jackson County, with the first recipient selected in 1998. During the 2015-16 academic year, there will be four Jackson County Lilly Scholars on college campuses in the state.

Rudge file

Name: Andrew Rudge

Age: 18

School: Senior at Seymour High School

Recent accomplishment: Named Jackson County’s 2015 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar and received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship

School activities: Varsity tennis (co-captain, co-most valuable player, academic all-state); marching and pep bands (trumpet section leader three years); concert band (first chair two years, second chair one year); pit orchestra (lead trumpet in three musicals); Campus Owl Jazz Ensemble; show choir (first bass, bass section leader); a cappella choir (first bass); student government (vice president one year, president one year); National Honor Society (vice president one year, president one year); Key Club; Academic Super Bowl (math team captain); Chess Club (co-founder and vice president); Indiana Math League; Fellowship of Christian Athletes (leadership committee three years); prom, winter dance and homecoming planning committees

Community/civic/church activities: Reddington Christian Church youth group; Reddington Harvest Festival volunteer; Veterans Day “Taps” performance; Seymour Dance Marathon for Riley (co-founder, events/morale committee); volunteer Christmas wind and choral ensembles; nursing home trumpet playing; Hoosier Boys State delegate (state’s character/scholar award recipient); SpringHill Camps Teen Service Team; Seymour Middle School Math Hall of Fame (2014 inductee); trick-or-treat for canned goods; Salvation Army bell ringer; Kiwanis Club fish stand volunteer; elementary science clubs volunteer; freshman band fundamentals volunteer; all-district and all-state band ensembles

Family: Parents, Keith and Christin Rudge; siblings, Emily, Josiah and Addie Rudge

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.