Trine student honored at ‘Realizing the Dream’

March 01, 2023

Bethany Schmitt INDIANAPOLIS — Bethany Morgan Schmitt, a Trine University sophomore from Fort Wayne, Indiana, majoring in exercise science/pre-physical therapy, was one of 29 first-generation Indiana college students named as a “Realizing the Dream” recipient by the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).  

The 29 scholarship recipients, one from each of Indiana’s private, non-profit colleges and universities, were celebrated at a banquet on Feb. 25 at the Eiteljorg Museum.

Made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the scholarship program annually recognizes first-generation college students from ICI colleges and universities. Students are selected for the $4,000 award for outstanding achievement during their freshman year as they successfully advance toward completing their bachelor’s degrees.

To honor recipients, ICI created individual videos of each student describing what it means to them to be a first-generation college student and thanking an influential educator they have chosen to honor. Videos can be found at

In her video, Schmitt said the financial support will help her achieve her dream of becoming a physical therapist.

“I’d love to help out the older generation with injuries such as stroke and brain injuries and really help people get their independence back,” she said.

In addition to the students’ scholarship awards, the influential educators also receive $1,000 in professional development grants.

Schmitt honored Emily Watkins, assistant professor in Trine’s Rinker-Ross School of Health Sciences.

“I respect her so much as both a teacher and a physical therapist, and she’s really inspired me to be the best physical therapist I can in the future,” Schmitt said. “She’s really taken the coursework in all the classes I’ve taken with her and gone above and beyond with teaching it.”

 “Thanks to the continued support of Lilly Endowment, we get the opportunity to hear the inspiring stories of these first-generation students and the impact local educators have had on their drive to succeed academically,” said Jodie Ferise, JD, ICI’s vice president & general counsel. “These scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”

About Independent Colleges of Indiana

Independent Colleges of Indiana serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, non-profit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion.  Although the Endowment maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it also funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion.

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