Indiana State University Newsroom

President’s Scholars announced for 2017-18

July 19, 2017

Indiana State University has announced the recipients of its most esteemed scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year.

The President's Scholarship provides 20 students full in-state tuition and on-campus housing -- a four-year value of more than $76,000.

"For me, one of the most anticipated events of the academic year is the competition held each January on the Indiana State University campus. Only the best and brightest high school seniors from Indiana and across the country are selected from more than 217 competitors, each vying for a President's Scholarship," said John Beacon, senior vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications at Indiana State. "Meeting so many bright, eager and talented high school seniors is reassuring that the future of this country will indeed be in good hands for years to come."

The recipients are chosen based on their academic merit during their time in high school, personal accomplishments and interviews during their on-campus visits.Students who were invited to interview for the President's Scholarship or University Honors Scholarship and were not selected for either award still receive the $6,000 President's Academic Excellence award.

"To have been selected to compete in the President's Scholarship competition is an honor," said Beacon. "No student leaves this event with less than a $6,000 scholarship. In the end, there are only winners."

This year's recipients include:

David Kluender of Bedford, Ind., is the son of Luke and Joann Kluender. He led the Bedford North Lawrence Marching Stars as a section leader and as drum major. Additionally, he was a member of the Bedford North Lawrence Chorale, where he was named Outstanding Bass. Kluender volunteers at Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Department, where he works as a first responder. He will be starting his studies at Indiana State in the exploratory studies program.



Jordan Kemp of Boonville, Ind., is the daughter of Julie and Michael Kemp. She was the president of Patriot Renaissance and treasurer of her class. Kemp participated in the Optimist Club, where she was the leader of the elementary tutoring program. She also participated in swimming and performed a variety of service work. Kemp plans on majoring in earth and environmental science.




Jillian Bontjes of Danville, Ill., is the daughter of Christopher and Julie Bontjes. Bontjes was the president of Busy Bunch 4H Club and was historian of the Drama Club. Additionally, she was the principal clarinetist and section leader in the band. She plans on majoring in communication.




Gabriella Tortorice of Decatur, Ill., is the daughter Laura Tortorice. She participated in the Eisenhower Choir as a section leader and in the Eisenhower Band as drum major. Tortorice volunteered with several organizations, including American Cancer Society, Miss Amazing Organization and the Humane Society of Decatur Macon County. She plans on majoring in music education.




Alexia Golden of Monmouth, Ill., is the daughter of Brian and Michelle Golden. She served as the president of her class and as the vice president of FFA. She also participated in volleyball and was the captain of the basketball team. Golden plans to major in elementary education.




Jenna Tebben of Lake Villa, Ill., is the daughter of Melissa and Michael Tebben. She was a member of Key Club and participated in volleyball while in high school. Tebben also participated in theater, serving as a teacher's aide in theater class. She was dance captain for her high school performance of "Once Upon a Mattress." She will pursue a major in speech language pathology.




Benjamon Brinkley of Chrisman, Ill., is the son of Shannon and Trisha Brinkley. He was a member of the track, cross-country and basketball team while in high school. Brinkley served as captain of all three sports his junior and senior years. He has participated in weeklong trips to Memphis, Tenn., to help with vacation Bible school. Brinkley will be pursuing a major in criminology and criminal justice.



Kathryn Higginbotham of Noblesville, Ind., is the daughter of Ann and Scott Higginbotham. In high school, Higginbotham was involved several of her school's choir ensembles, her church choir and theater. She was also involved with Key Club and the speech and debate team. During her time at Indiana State, she plans to major in communication.




Abigail Hemmen of Teutopolis, Ill., is the daughter of Stephanie and Jake Hemmen. She was the editor of her school newspaper and captain of the cross-country team. Hemmen was stage manager and publicity manager for the drama club and served as secretary for student council. She will pursue a degree in English.




Jacob Sonntag of Indianapolis is the son of James and Ramona Sonntag. He played trumpet in his school's band and was a member of Life Teen. Sonntag is also an Eagle Scout with Boy Scouts of America. While at Indiana State, he will pursue a degree in mathematics.




Molly Morgan of Terre Haute is the daughter of Connie and Andy Morgan. While in high school, Morgan was involved in student council, Key Club and a member of National Honor Society. She also participated in cheerleading and was the lead dancer on her high school's dance team. Morgan plans to pursue a degree in nursing.




Kaitlyn Malek of Stow, Ohio, is the daughter of Kelly and Daniel Malek. Malek was a member of the National Chinese Honor Society and was a part of her school's Mock Trial Club. She also played club and high school soccer. At Indiana State, she will pursue a pre-medicine track.




Nia Spiller of Louisville, Ky., is the daughter of Brelis and Nathalie Spiller. Spiller is a member of the Black Student Union, Women in Aviation International and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. She is an ambassador with Girl Scouts of America and a member of her school's Senior Steering Committee. Spiller will pursue a degree in professional aviation flight technology.



Brielle Batch of West Harrison, Ind., is the daughter of Shelly and Jon Batch. She plans to follow a pre-medicine track at Indiana State. Batch served as vice president of the Dearborn County 4H Junior Leaders. She was involved with the Good News Club and was a member of the Cincinnati Public Library Teen Advisory Board.




Morgan James of Clifton, Ill., is the daughter of Justin and Shannon James. While in high school, she was very involved in athletics. She played volleyball, basketball, softball and ran track. James was also the secretary of her class and a member of the psychology club. She intends to major in psychology at State. 




Kylie Wertz of Cory, Ind., is the daughter of Theresa and Michael Wertz. While in high school, she was the secretary for Students Against Destructive Decisions and the president of Spanish club. Wertz was also the treasurer for Business Professionals of America. She will pursue a pre-medicine track while at Indiana State.




Kyra Helming of Ferdinand, Ind., is the daughter of Elizabeth Helming. She held several leadership positions while in high school for organizations such as Students Against Destructive Decisions and Key Club. Helming was the treasurer for National Honor Society and served as yearbook editor. While at Indiana State, Helming will pursue a pre-law track.




Felicity Graf of Bloomfield, Ind., is the daughter of Jake and Misty Graf. In high school, she volunteered with a variety of organizations including Soup on Saturday, student mentoring, and Girls Basketball Kids Camp. Graf was heavily involved in sports and served as captain of the basketball and volleyball teams. She will major in management at Indiana State.




Casey Phillips of Greenfield, Ind., is the son of Megan Hawsey and James Phillips. He was a member of the Spanish Club and the Spanish Honors Society. He also took part in the Student Leadership Academy and played on the basketball team. Phillips plans on pursuing a degree in business education at Indiana State.




Madison Longyear of Terre Haute is the daughter of Scot and Stephanie Longyear. She plans on majoring in communication. Longyear was involved in many activities in high school, including musicals, choir and student government. Longyear served as the vice president of fundraising for the Interact Club and was a member of Student Ambassadors.




Courtney Hengehold of Trenton, Ill., is the daughter of Kelly and Jeff Hengehold. Hengehold was the co-captain of the cross-country team and was a section leader in band. She served as the vice president of her high school's Model United Nations and volunteered with the middle school's Model United Nations. Hengehold plans on majoring in Mathematics while at Indiana State.

-30- -- David Kluender -- Jordan Kemp -- Jillian Bontjes -- Gabriella Tortorice -- Alexia Golden -- Jenna Tebben -- Benjamon Brinkley -- Kathryn Higginbotham -- Abigail Hemmen -- Jacob Sonntag -- Molly Morgan -- Kaitlyn Malek -- Nia Spiller -- Brielle Batch -- Morgan James -- Kylie Wertz -- Kyra Helming -- Felicity Graf -- Casey Phillips -- Madison Longyear -- Courtney Hengehold

Writer and media contact: Connor Myers, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773