Saint Joseph's College sophomore Psychology major Mary DeVault of Merrillville, Ind. was among 31 students from Indiana's independent colleges and universities honored at the 23rd annual "Realizing the Dream" banquet in Indianapolis. To be selected, students must be the first in their families to go to college, be chosen by their colleges for outstanding achievement in their freshman year, and be advancing toward successfully completing their bachelor's degrees.
"When I found out I had received the award, I was shocked," said DeVault. "I was excited to see my hard work pay off. It proves that great things can come from taking your education seriously."
Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, the event recognized first-generation college students attending ICI campuses, along with their inspirational teachers and families. Each honored student receives a $2,000 check to help with college costs, and each student's chosen "most influential" teacher receives $1,000. DeVault chose Nicole Severance, who taught her in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade at Aquinas School at St. Andrews in Merrillville.
"Ms. Severance has been a big part of my life," said DeVault. "She truly cares about her students, and she always did everything in her power to make sure all of her students exceled in the classroom. She and I have stayed in touch throughout the years, and I cannot thank her enough for her support and the influence she has had on my life."
DeVault was also accompanied by her parents, Jim and Debbie DeVault; Severance's daughter, Maddie; and SJC Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Chad Pulver '97 and his wife, Rachel Mahns Pulver '97.
"I asked Dr. Pulver to join me at the reception because he is an excellent teacher, a great guy, and someone who is always willing to take time out of his schedule to help his students," said DeVault. "It was wonderful having him and Mrs. Pulver at the reception."
One out of every three students on ICI campuses is a first-generation college student. 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."
Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 34 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of 1,100 students.
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