Since graduating from the University of Southern Indiana in 1997, Presidential Scholar Nicole Cable Hume has been singing the University’s praises. A chemistry teacher at Faith Christian School in Lafayette, Indiana, Hume always encourages her students to consider USI when applying to colleges. As a result of her advocacy, she’s influenced 13 students from Faith Christian to attend USI. One of those students, Edward "John" Hilt, was awarded a Presidential Scholarship and will begin classes at the University this fall.
"I am so grateful that I had a Presidential Scholarship," Hume said. "It was more than just a scholarship; it was an investment in me, so I was really excited that John was accepted as a Presidential Scholar. He’s not only extremely intelligent, but a well-rounded individual."
Hilt, a pre-med biology major, is one of 10 Indiana high school valedictorians and salutatorians selected to receive full four-year scholarships. The Presidential Scholarship program was established in 1988 to attract Indiana’s brightest and best students to USI. These scholarships are funded through private gifts to the USI Foundation.
"Dr. Hume has really been helpful—telling me about all the opportunities at USI," Hilt said. And he is already taking advantage of these opportunities. "During freshman orientation, I visited the Chamber Choir’s table on campus, auditioned, and now I'll be singing tenor with the group this fall." Every student Hume recommended attend USI has expressed his or her gratitude. "I get lots of ‘thank you’ emails from former students,” Hume said. "They talk of the great interactions they’ve had with the faculty and how much they truly enjoy attending USI."
Hilt’s mother, Tina Overley-Hilt, said if Hume hadn't encouraged her son to consider USI, he never would have. "She's been one of his most wonderful teachers, and an incredibly positive influence throughout his life."
Hume stood behind Hilt 100 percent during the Presidential Scholarship application and interview procedure, putting in recommendations and helping guide him through the interview process that he sometimes found "a bit overwhelming." But Hume knew—and had known since the age of 19—the importance of receiving a Presidential Scholarship.
"My education at USI was stellar,” Hume said. "Although I was unable to give back much when I was younger, it was always important for me to show my appreciation and give back to the Presidential Scholarship program to make it possible for other students, like John, to receive the same gift."
The Presidential Scholarship program, along with other merit-based programs (Deans Scholarships and B/ MD (Baccalaureate/Doctor of Medicine) Scholarships), attract top students, and it is a priority of the University to fully endow them. Campaign USI: Elevating Excellence aims to strengthen these and other scholarships by raising $10 million to build scholarship endowments. An expanded scholarship and financial aid program helps highly motivated students, like Nicole, for whom costs can be a barrier.
A gift of $200,000 will perpetually endow a Presidential Scholarship, while an annual commitment of $8,800 in each of the next four years will fund one full four-year Presidential Scholarship.