Local students win state education scholarships

Three local high school graduates received Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarships worth up to $30,000, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education announced.

Columbus North graduate Olivia Sprong, Columbus East graduate Winter Shaver and Jennings County High School graduate Lucelia Ernstes each are recipients in the sixth class of Next Generation scholars.

According to the commission, Sprong will use her scholarship to study at University of Indianapolis, Winter at Purdue University and Ernstes at Indiana University Southeast.

Additionally, North Decatur Jr.-Sr. High School graduate Claire Wallace was named a Next Generation scholar and will use her scholarship to study at IUPUC, according to the commission.

Next Generation scholarships entitle recipients to annual education grants of $7,500 annually, or up to $30,000 total over four years, for committing to teach in Indiana for at least five years after graduating college.

According to the commission, Sprong, Winter and Ernstes were among 200 recipients of the highly competitive scholarships. To qualify, students must graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class or meet other academic standards.

The commission said that the 200 recipients were selected from among 627 students who applied — a 43 percent increase in applications over 2021.

“Recipients of the Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarship will bring dedication, creativity and passion to classrooms across the state,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery. “Teachers play an important and vital role in preparing students for academic and life success. It’s encouraging to see so many students committed to teaching in Indiana as the number of applicants increases each year.”