April 2, 2014

'Life-changing' news: Lari Rutschmann is the 2014 Lilly Scholar

Lari Rutschmann is the 2014 Lilly Scholar

by Amie Sites

LOGANSPORT — Lari Rutschmann thought she was taking a picture for the speech team when she walked into a conference room at the Logansport High School. She was surprised to instead see the faces of school leaders, family members, mentors and representatives of the Cass County Community Foundation.

The room broke into applause as a stunned Rutschmann dropped her backpack and accepted a lily flower from Herb Price, the 2014 CCCF board chairman.

She just learned she was the 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.

See a video of Lari Rutschman learning she was the Lilly Scholar by clicking here.

The tears really started flowing when the Logansport High School senior hugged her mother, Sarah Rutschmann, grandfather, Dr. Donald Rutschmann and great-aunt, Stephany Ander, who were in attendance to watch her receive the news.

Lari Rutschmann thanked everyone and she was both baffled and humbled at the award.

“I’m still in shock,” she said.

Logansport High School Principal Matt Jones congratulated her and complimented her for being both a great student and person. Jones said he was incredibly proud of the senior.

“She is an outstanding lady,” Jones said. “Her hard work has paid off and she is very deserving of the honor.”

“She’s not a crier, so that’s saying something,” Sarah Rutschmann said with a proud smile.

Sarah Rutschmann was notified Monday evening that her daughter was the 2014 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar. The secret was a hard one to keep, she said.

“I’m flabbergasted, shocked and proud,” Sarah Rutschmann said. “She has worked very hard. I am very proud of her.”

Of the six finalists, three were from Logansport High School and others were from Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School, Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School and Caston High School. All of the candidates were very deserving, Sarah Rutschmann said.

Lari Rutschmann will receive a full, four-year scholarship to the Indiana college of her choice as well as a $900 stipend each year for required books and equipment.

She plans to attend Notre Dame or Indiana University to pursue a dual major in finance and public policy with a minor in economics. She plans to continue her education studying law at either Notre Dame or Georgetown and return to central Indiana to pursue a career as a litigation lawyer. Her long-term goal is to run for state public office.

She said she was honored to be selected.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “For years, this is something I’ve strived for. I’m excited it paid off.”

The announcement was a sentimental moment for the family. Lari Rutschmann’s late grandmother was very influential in her life, Sarah Rutschmann said.

“We all know she is watching over,” Sarah Rutschmann said. “Mother would be really proud of her.”

Michele Starkey, superintendent at the school district, said she feels like a proud mother.

“This is life changing,” Starkey said. “She’s a great kid. … It makes you proud.”

Jones and Starkey agreed Rutschmann is a well-rounded student, who is involved in the speech team, national honor society, academic super bowl, key club, drama club, sub debs, swing choir and the BerryBotics.

She has also taken on many leadership roles including vice president of the senior class and student council, president of thespian society, captain of the speech team and more. She was selected as a National Merit Commended Scholar and Hoosier Girls State Delegate, where she was a keynote speaker and citizen of the week. She has been Top 20 award winner throughout high school and is an accomplished writer and public speaker. She also volunteers for Logan’s Landing, Special Olympics, Civic Players of Logansport, American Red Cross and historic preservation.

Rutschmann is Cass County’s 33rd Lilly Scholar. The Cass County Community Foundation received 19 applications for the program. Six finalists were selected based on academic ability, achievements, activities and citizenship. Finalists were then asked to participate in an impromptu timed essay followed by a face-to-face interview session with the selection committee.

Announcing the winner each year is always both emotional and rewarding, said Deanna Crispen, CCCF president.

“[The announcement] is one of our best days,” Crispen said. “Lari is an exceptional student, leader and person. She will represent Cass County very well.”

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.