From National Honor Society member in the classroom to state title champion on the football field, Pioneer High School senior Jack Kiser has earned a lot of awards and accolades during his time as a Panther.

And now he gets to add one more to the list — 2019 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.

"I was speechless, which doesn't happen very often," Kiser said after receiving the honor on Thursday morning from the Cass County Community Foundation. "Just thinking about how there's a lot of great candidates that went into this, to come out on top and receive this award just means so much."

Kiser is the 10th recipient of the scholarship from PHS and the 38th Lilly Scholar for Cass County since 1998, CCCF President and CEO Deanna Crispen said in a news release.

He will receive a full, four-year scholarship to any Indiana college of his choice, as well as a $900 stipend each year for required books and equipment.

Earlier this year, Kiser committed to the University of Notre Dame, where he will play football for the Fighting Irish beginning in the fall of 2019.

But it's excellence off the field that Kiser said is most important.

"You have to be a 5-star recruit in the classroom, so I'm going to go in there [Notre Dame] and try to keep up my academics and keep a 4.0," he said. "From there, it's just about getting a job, going out into the real world and succeeding."

While at Notre Dame, Kiser hopes to pursue a degree in Business Analytics, with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

And Kiser said the Lilly scholarship process has already been a tremendous support in that area.

"I think this has given me more confidence in interviews, filling out applications and writing essays," he said. "Going forward, I feel like I won't feel scared now going into a room and talking to someone like a higher-up because I'm going to feel confident in knowing I have the tools that it takes to be successful."

While at Pioneer, Kiser has received the high honor roll designation every semester of his high school career, is a member of student council, 4-H and Pep Club and has held student office each school year.

On the athletic field, he has led the Panthers to two Class A state football championships and a runner-up title. He has also been named an Academic All-State Football Player, All-Loganland Offensive Player of the Year, and IFCA Top 50 Football Player.

A two-sport athlete, Kiser is also a two-time medalist at the IHSAA state track-and-field meet and a Kinder Star of Stars Track and Field Award recipient.

Speaking on her son's many accomplishments Thursday, Deborah Kiser said she is naturally just a very proud mother.

"It's thrilling," she said. "We're just so excited for Jack. He's a wonderful kid and just so deserving of it. He's worked so hard, both in the classroom and outside of it, and so this program [Lilly scholarship] has just been a blessing for our family."

Reach Kim Dunlap at or 574-732-5150.

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