Tears of joy, happiness and surprise.
Columbus North High School senior Daniela Chaparro began to cry as she learned Thursday afternoon she is one of two Bartholomew County Lilly Endowment scholars.
Chaparro, 18, didn’t know as she entered the school’s main office conference room at about 1:30 p.m. that she was about to be surprised with the scholarship announcement.
The Lilly Endowment Scholarship will cover Chaparro’s tuition for four years at any Indiana college or university and provide a $900 stipend for required books and equipment.
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Her older sister Luisa was at the announcement, along with representatives from the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County and members of the Lilly scholar selection committee.
Chaparro, the daughter of Cristobal Chaparro and Juana Isela Lopez, called her parents by cellphone and delivered the news about the scholarship in Spanish.
“This is great,” Chaparro said as she wiped away tears. “I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe it.”
This year, 101 students applied for the coveted scholarships, with 10 finalists being selected for an interview, said Amy Laker, scholarship manager with the Heritage Fund.
Chaparro has not determined where she wants to attend college to study art education. She said she is considering Ball State University, Indiana University or Notre Dame as her top choices.
Chaparro grew up in Mexico on the border near El Paso, Texas, until she was 14 when she and her family moved to Columbus the final nine weeks of her eighth-grade year.
“I think this is just the greatest gift anyone can receive, the gift of education,” Chaparro said about the scholarship. “It’s the greatest help.”
Chaparro serves as co-president of the Diversity Council at North, where she is also involved with National Art Honor Society and the National Honor Society. She was junior varsity team captain on the soccer team and captain of North’s fine arts academic team.
She tutors those who are learning English in an after-school program, she said. She also volunteers at the Ethnic Expo each year and has also been active as an ambassador and counselor for Project Stepping Stone, which helps Hispanic and Latino students high school students from Indiana prepare for college.
She also volunteers and is a choir member at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church. She is a soloist for SHALOM Choir and a folk dancer with Ballet Folklorico Columbus.
Chaparro said she initially was hesitant about applying for the scholarship after hearing how competitive it was. Several of her friends were also pursuing the Lilly Endowment scholarship, she said.
But after receiving encouragement from her teachers, she decided to fill out the application.
Chaparro said she was more nervous after her finalist interview with the selection committee, saying she thought she didn’t do very well. Her interview focused on her time growing up in Mexico, and talking about learning to speak English after she arrived in the United States.
Her sister said she is proud of her sibling, describing her as a role model who always works hard.
“She definitely deserves it,” she said.
Matt Kirr, Lilly selection committee chairman, said Chaparro is a good writer who has worked hard by demonstrating good grades, along with her involvement at school.
Katie Chaplin, a North Advance Placement English literature teacher, wrote one of Chaparro’s letters of recommendation as part of the scholarship application process.
They embraced after Chaparro learned she was a scholarship recipient.
“She has a huge heart,” Chaplin said.
Chaparro said she is passionate about pursuing a teaching career, as there is a teacher shortage in Indiana. She credited her father with inspiring her to be successful and to help others.
“I know I want to make a big change and be someone that other minorities can look up to because I always try to help out as many people as I can,” Chaparro said.
Name: Daniela Chaparro
School: Columbus North High School
Parents: Cristobal Chaparro and Juana Isela Lopez
College: Undecided, but is considering Ball State University, Indiana University at Bloomington or Notre Dame.
Major: Art education with hopes of becoming a teacher
The Lilly Endowment community scholarship program began in 1998 and pays four years of tuition to any Indiana college or university, as well as a $900 stipend for required books and equipment.
Since the program started, 43 Bartholomew County students have been named scholars, including this year’s recipients.
This year, Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County moved up the announcement for the winners (normally announced in early spring) to allow the recipients more time to consider their choice of schools, said Amy Laker, Heritage Fund scholarship manager.
Scholarship applicants are evaluated on academic performance, scholastic activities, community involvement and employment, leadership, financial need, responses to questions and a 450-word essay and two recommendations.
Finalists who do not receive the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship each receive a $1,000 award from the Heritage Fund.
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