Realizing a dream takes commitment, hard work, and, most often, a helping hand from family and others. That’s exactly what 31 students from Indiana’s independent colleges and universities were recently celebrated for at the 26th annual “Realizing the Dream” banquet in Indianapolis. Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI), the event recognized first-generation students attending ICI campuses, along with their inspirational teachers and families.
As part of the event, sophomore Martha L. Ocobachi from Ligonier was selected by USF for outstanding achievement in her freshman year, and she is successfully advancing toward completing a bachelor’s degree. Ocobachi named Kelly Parks from West Noble Primary School in Ligonier as her most influential teacher. Each student honored receives a $2,500 check to help with college costs, and each student’s selected teacher/mentor receives a $1,000 professional development grant.
One out of every three students on ICI campuses is first-generation. Generous financial aid provided by the campuses themselves, combined with state and federal grants, makes a private college education a possibility for all students in Indiana.
“We are so grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for making this inspirational program possible,” said Richard L. Ludwick, ICI president and CEO. “We are proud, too, that because of the higher graduation rates of our ICI colleges and universities, these students are twice as likely to realize the dream of completing their degrees in four years.”
“Martha is extremely deserving of this honor for the hard work she continues to put toward her academic success,” said Jean-Paul Spagnolo, vice-president of enrollment services at USF, who nominated Ocobachi. “The University of Saint Francis is thrilled to be able to recognize this outstanding student, along with an educator who helped her get to where she is today.”