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First-Generation College Students Recognized for "Realizing the Dream"

Friday, November 8, 2013  
Posted by: Mary Dickerson
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First-Generation College Students Recognized for "Realizing the Dream”  INDIANAPOLIS, November 5, 2013 –

Realizing a dream takes commitment, hard work, and, most often, a helping hand from family and others.  And that’s exactly what 31 students from Indiana’s independent colleges and universities are being celebrated for this Saturday evening, November 9, at the 24th annual "Realizing the Dream” banquet.

Now sophomores, they have realized the dream of being the first in their families to go to college, have been selected by their colleges for outstanding achievement in the freshman year, and are successfully advancing towards completing their bachelor’s degrees.  

Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, the event recognizes first-generation students attending ICI campuses, along with their inspirational teachers and families.  The event is being held at the Sheraton Indianapolis at Keystone Crossing, with a reception at 6:15 p.m. and an awards dinner at 7:00 p.m. 

Each honored student will receive a $2,000 check to help with college costs, and each student’s chosen "most influential” teacher/mentor will receive $1,000.  One out of every three students on ICI campuses is a first-generation one. 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. 

This year’s keynote speaker is Rebecca Hernandez, Ph.D., Goshen College associate dean of Intercultural Development & Educational Partnerships.  A first-generation college student herself and the daughter of migrant farm workers, Hernandez has been working on Latino issues throughout her career.  She has taught middle and high school, served as a community and non-profit leader, and held faculty appointments at Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Sciences University.   

"We are so grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for making this inspirational program possible,” says Richard L. Ludwick, ICI president & 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.”