Holy Cross College is excited to share that current student Jelani Cotton was one of twenty-nine first-generation Indiana college students named a “Realizing the Dream” recipient by the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). This program gave him the chance to get a boost to his education funds this academic year and re-connect with an influential educator who helped him along the way. All recipients were celebrated at a  banquet on February 24 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.

“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,” ICI President & CEO Kurt D. Dykstra said. “These scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”

In addition to the students’ scholarship awards, the influential educators also receive $1,000 in professional development grants. Cotton acknowledged his high school teacher Leslie Burns from John Adams High School as his influential educator. Burns joined Cotton, his family, and Brother Bill Zaydak, C.S.C., Director of Student Success at Holy Cross in Indianapolis for the celebration banquet.



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.