Victoria Hicks graduated from Randolph Southern High School last spring, a school best known for its decades-long domination at state academic super bowl competitions.
Hicks’ academic record puts her former school’s success into perspective. She finished fourth out of 43 students, despite amassing a 4.5 grade point average, a product of a weighted grading scale.
“Grades were extremely important to a lot of people in our class,” Hicks explained. “It was extremely competitive, but here’s the crazy part: Our top 11 had over a 4.0.”
It was no wonder that the 18-year-old had her pick of colleges or universities to attend after high school. Yet, the best option for her was always just 30 minutes away from home.
“Indiana University East has always been a good option for me,” Hicks said, because she can receive an IU education in an intimate setting. “I wanted to stay close to home. I definitely did not want a huge, drastic change.”
Today, Hicks is the campus’ most recent Adam W. Herbert IU Presidential Scholar award winner. The scholarship, now in its fifth year, is given to in-state applicants from every IU campus with the best academic success out of high school. One IU East student is awarded the honor annually.
“It goes to the best of the best of each campus,” IU East Chancellor Nasser Paydar said.
Presidential scholars receive renewable scholarships ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 a year for four years, plus a new laptop computer. In Hicks’ junior or senior year, she is eligible to receive an additional $1,000 reward for international study.
The scholarship program is funded by a $10 million grant from the Lilly Foundation, with the goal of placing more of Indiana’s top high school students at IU campuses and the hope that they might be more inclined to stay in Indiana after they graduate.
“It was an amazing surprise,” Hicks said of the award. “That’s just one more financial thing I don’t have to stress about. I know college is paid for, I never have to think about it. Any money that I do have can go toward living on my own and being a college kid.”
Hicks is studying elementary education, a career that would put her in the same field as her parents. Her mom, Tina Hicks, is a teacher at Northeastern Wayne Schools in Fountain City. Her father, Dennis Hicks, is the registrar at IU East.
“To me, teacher is one of the finest professions that you can do,” Tina Hicks said. “If it were not for teachers, we would not have lawyers, we would not have doctors.”
Tina said her daughter already has experience as a teacher. She has run stations at Vacation Bible School at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Richmond, and has assisted in her classrooms.
“She and my assistant have taken over the class and run it,” Tina said.
Dennis Hicks said the many recent changes on campus, including the establishment of competitive sports through the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the expansion of baccalaureate and graduate programs, makes IU East a “first-choice school” for area high school graduates.
“The whole culture of the IU East campus has really changed,” Dennis said. “That’s why kids like Victoria see this as a first-choice school.
“I’ve really watched the transition where before the average age of students might have been 28,” he said. “Now, I’m seeing all of these young kids straight out of high school.”
Paydar said Victoria is a great example of the caliber of students IU East can recruit with the presidential scholar award, along with other competitive scholarships that are available to students.
“I think she’s really bright and very curious about education,” Paydar said. “All around, she’s a great role model. A great kid.
“We want to increase the number of students on campus at this level,” he said.
High school seniors who are interested in competing for next year’s presidential scholarship must complete their application for admission this fall.
Criteria for selection include class rank, grade point average, SAT I or ACT test scores, and strength of high school curriculum. Also considered are each student’s record of activities and leadership positions, record of community service, personal statement, and a recommendation from a high school teacher, guidance counselor or community member.
Unlike IU’s other competitive scholarship programs, such as the Wells and Kelley Scholars, eligibility for the Herbert Presidential Scholarships is limited to Indiana residents. Preference is given to National Merit Scholarship qualifiers.
Each campus nominates students for the award from its applicant pool.
For more information on enrolling at IU East, visit www.iue.edu/admissions or call (765) 973-8208.