by Amie Sites
Kaley Bean’s mouth dropped open when she walked into the main office at Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School to find her parents and Deanna Crispen, Cass County Community Foundation president, holding flowers.
“What? How did this happen?” a surprised Bean asked Monday morning with she realized she had been named the Lilly scholarship recipient.
Bean’s father, James, said he received a phone call from Crispen at 8:30 a.m. Monday telling him his daughter would receive not only full tuition to the Indiana college of her choice but also a $900 yearly stipend.
“We had no idea,” James said. “We figured the scholarship was over with the announcement last week. We’re thrilled.”
James “Jake” Hawes was announced April 4 as the 2013 Lilly Scholar. Crispen said Hawes turned down the scholarship and made the decision that was best for him.
Crispen said an alternate Lilly Scholar has been named the winner one other time. Ty Shrontz turned down the Lilly scholarship in 2009 after he was accepted to Harvard University. It was given to Jessica Head.
“It’s a tough decision each year,” Crispen said. “There seem to be two finalists who rise to the top.”
Bean said she had no idea when she was pulled from her calculus classroom the news she was about to receive.
“Everyone in my class said I was suspended when I was asked to bring my things to the office with me,” Bean said with a laugh. “This is way better than class.”
Bean hugged her parents, James and Cindy, and thanked Crispen and Brooke Stotler, executive assistant, who were representing the Cass County Community Foundation.
“Thank you so much,” Bean said. “This is such a great honor.”
Bean plans to attend Purdue University and major in biomedical engineering and science with aspirations of becoming a member of the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
Several people came to congratulate Bean, including teacher Becky Groff and guidance counselor Karin Ulerick, who her mother described as Kaley’s biggest advocate.
Joe, Bean’s younger brother, also congratulated his sister.
“Now I can go to college,” Joe said jokingly.
Bean, along with Joe, created and host a YouTube channel producing documentary and educational videos. She is also an active member in her church, two church youth groups and is a student manager for the Pioneer swim team. Bean has been involved in leadership roles at her high school through Academic Super Bowl, Spell Bowl and Quiz Bowl. She was the 2012 drum major for her band and is proficient with several instruments.
Cindy said her daughter had been working toward the Lilly scholarship for years.
“In grade school, she set her sights on that one thing,” Cindy said. “She has been working on that since then.”
After graduation, Bean intends to pursue a career in pediatric orthopedics, working with a company to produce child-size implants.
“It feels like a fairytale,” Bean said. “This is so surreal. I started to make other plans because I didn’t think I received it but I’m glad I got another chance.”