University of Southern Indiana

Bill Sands Communication Award

Prior student loans almost kept Casey Hand from enrolling at USI. So, when the senior dietetics major learned she was selected to receive the prestigious Bill Sands Communication Award, she was beyond thrilled.

“My previous school loan debt was something that almost stopped me from pursuing my dream of becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist. Receiving a scholarship for any amount to help fund my education means so much to me now,” said Hand, a non-traditional student. “Receiving a scholarship helps alleviate a tremendous amount of stress and equips me to be able to borrow less money in the long run.”

The University-wide scholarship was established by USI faculty members – the late William and Helen Sands – in memory of their son, Bill, who died in a car accident in 1998.

Hand attended Indiana University after high school, majoring in psychology. “After a year, I decided to switch majors and ended up going to culinary arts school in Indianapolis,” she said. “Food has always been a big and important part of my life, and after attending culinary school, I started to become very interested in my own personal health and how food played a huge role in it.”

Upon graduation in Spring 2021, Hand will complete a supervised internship–she also plans to work on a master’s degree, simultaneously.  

Hand, who is 31, said when she enrolled at USI she wasn’t looking for the “traditional college experience” because of her age. She credits faculty members in the Food and Nutrition Program for encouraging her to volunteer and get involved in leadership positions on campus. “They care about my future and push me to excel and be the best student I can be, so that I am adequately prepared to be competitive in the dietetic supervised internship process,” she said.

Hand is currently the president of the Food and Nutrition Student Organization in which she helps organize volunteer opportunities at the Tri-State Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House and various health fairs. 

She has been on the Dean’s List every semester while at USI and is also a member of USI’s Honors Program which requires she complete additional projects each semester.


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