IU East’s four Herbert Scholars aim to help people, communities

The four new Herbert Presidential Scholars at Indiana University East boast a bounty of similar goals, attributes and potentials for success.

They all have strong desires to serve others—to tend to the needs of people and their communities.

Rudy Branstetter
Photo by Metcalf Photography

In fact, three of the honored freshmen already foresee careers in medical fields.

Rudy Branstetter of Connersville plans to use his studies in biochemistry to qualify for medical school. “I really enjoy learning about biology and chemistry as it relates to personal health, community health and global health,” he said. “My goal is to be a physician in a rural community in Indiana.”

Alex Brown of Richmond plans to become a travel nurse and use that time to hone in on what he wants to do and where he wants to do it in the nursing field. “I chose nursing because I have worked at a nursing home for over a year now and love the work,” he said.

Alex Brown

Caleb Snyder of Parker City plans to earn a degree in human life science and eventually open his own chiropractic clinic. “The opportunities at IU East fit perfectly with my long-term career goals,” he said. “The science and business schools are tremendous and those two together are necessary for what I want to do.”

Jacob Thomas of Richmond is leaning toward a career as a teacher. “I knew coming into college that I wanted to work with kids, but I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to do it. I’ve explored social work a bit, and I think I want to look more into working in education.”

All four Herbert Scholars for the Class of 2026 earn a scholarship that pays fees and tuition and is renewable each school year.

Caleb Snyder

The award features several other perks, including a new computer, $1,000 toward study abroad, events to meet leaders at Indiana University and special opportunities for internships and research in their chosen fields. The program is funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

The four were nominated by IU East based on information submitted with the student’s application for admission. They all share other commonalities:

  • Three already have connections to IU East through relatives who are graduates or current students—including a grandmother, a mother, a brother, a sister and other close relatives. In fact, Snyder has a stepsister and two cousins who are currently attending, too.
  • They applied to IU East because of its strong academic reputation in their areas of interest.
  • They were influenced by the lower costs and smaller class sizes than most other universities.
  • They wanted to stay close to home and be able to get up close and personal with instructors and fellow students.

Their backgrounds are unique and foretell great potential for success.

Jacob Thomas
Photo by Pittman Photography

For example, Branstetter’s fascination for biology and chemistry is partly grounded in the production of maple syrup at his family’s farm near Connersville.

He also served on the Indiana High School Athletic Association Student Advisory Committee for two years. “The IHSAA volunteer opportunity helped me to see the importance of helping high school students throughout the state remain healthy through the pandemic, keep academically on track and (taught) how to prepare safely for athletic competition,” he said.

“I hope to use the skills learned on the SAC and continue to learn and grow so I can help families in my community continue to stay healthy during these challenging times.”

Learn more about each honoree through the following answers to a group of questions about their backgrounds and hopes for the future:

Q&A with 2022 Herbert Scholars
Can you describe the thrill of winning this honor and whether it was a surprise? How did your parents react?
“I was honored, surprised and excited to learn I had been selected. I had worked hard and took challenging classes at Connersville High School and earned being named salutatorian and I did not anticipate such a generous scholarship. It was a welcome surprise and honor to my parents (Hubert Branstetter Jr. and Karen Branstetter). We all feel it is such an incredible honor and accomplishment.”

Brown: “My parents are Matt and Kristi Herig and Pat and Erica Brown. They were very excited to hear that I received the scholarship and were proud to see the hard work pay off.”

Thomas: “I was obviously very excited to learn that I had received this scholarship. I expected to earn some scholarships from IU East, but I definitely didn’t expect to be getting this one. My parents were both very excited. Their names are Jennifer and Luke Seibert.

Snyder: “Winning this honor was very exhilarating for me. I always gave maximum effort in high school in hopes of being rewarded for it in the long term. I feel very blessed to receive this reward and all it entails. It was a very big surprise. My parents, as always, were very proud of me and my accomplishments. My mother’s name is Sherry Snyder-Ferguson and my stepfather’s name is Thomas Ferguson.”

Is it a great relief to have school paid for…and to receive a new computer, too?
“It is definitely a great relief to have school paid for, as well as a new computer. As a student coming into college not playing a sport, I was worried that I would have to take out a good-sized loan in order to pay for my college education. However, thanks to the Herbert scholarship award, my worries are over.”

Branstetter: “The thought of having my undergraduate degree paid for and a new computer provided me with such relief, gratitude and the opportunity to concentrate on my studies as I hope to apply to medical school in the future. My goal is to practice as a physician in a rural community in Indiana.”

Brown: “It is a huge weight off my shoulders to know that the scholarship will cover so much. The computer is a huge benefit, too, and I did not expect a (travel) stipend like that which makes it an even greater benefit.”

Thomas: “It’s a huge relief to have school paid for. I had already earned a couple of scholarships that would have helped with paying for college but receiving this one definitely lifted a huge burden.

What interests you about your field of study and what are your job/career goals?
“I really love biology and chemistry and applying the two sciences with my love of making fresh maple syrup on our farm. I really enjoy learning about them as it relates to personal health, community health and global health. My hope is to apply to medical school when I graduate from IU East. My goal is to be a physician in a rural community in Indiana.”

Brown: “I chose nursing because I have worked at a nursing home for over a year now and love the work. I plan to be a travel nurse coming out of college, and traveling and seeing what I would like to do most when I settle down.”

Snyder: “Growing up, I always had a huge interest in science, specifically the human body. Even at a young age I had no doubt what type of degree I wanted in college: one in the science field. As far as my career goals go, I am going to be a chiropractor and own a chiropractic office. The opportunities at IU East fit perfectly with my long-term career goals. The science and business schools are tremendous and those two together are necessary for what I want to do.”

Thomas: “While I wanted to be a social work major at first, I’ve actually recently decided that I think I want to switch my major to education. I knew coming into college that I wanted to work with kids, but I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to do it. I’ve explored social work a bit, and I think I want to look more into working in education.”

Do you have an idea what you will do with the stipend for foreign study and what would be your favorite place to visit?
“Foreign study in Belize would be an amazing opportunity to learn more about biology. I am keeping an open mind for what to do with foreign study as I have the great opportunity to explore what will be available.”

Snyder: “Right now, I’m not exactly sure what I will do with the stipend. However, having taken Spanish classes all throughout high school and earning the Global Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish, I would one day like to study somewhere in Mexico, Central/Latin America or even Spain.”

Brown: “I haven’t thought about it much, but I would like to go to a western European country, most likely. The stipend would allow me the privilege of a very unique and exciting experience.”

Thomas: “So far, I haven’t considered what I am going to do with the stipend for foreign study.”

Why did you choose IU East and what do you think about your experiences so far as a student?
“I chose to go to IU East because it offers me the flexibility to work and gain valuable experience while being able to see my family and get an Indiana University degree at a price that was too good to turn down.”

Branstetter: “I knew it would be a great fit, affordable, close to my hometown, and would provide me with the opportunity to major in biochemistry. I chose IU East because it is part of the well-respected Indiana University system…The smaller class sizes and various options of online courses and has outstanding professors to prepare me for my future goals. I am taking classes in person and online. The professors are approachable and there is support available to help me to be successful.”

Thomas: “I chose IU East because it is very close to home (I’ve lived in Richmond all of my life) and because it is a smaller school, which I think will help me further my education.”

Snyder: “I chose IU East mainly due to the small class sizes and caring instructors. I come from a very small town (Parker City)…where my graduating class had 70 people. Having a small class size is something I grew up in and thrived in. If there was a chance I could replicate that in college, I was going to take it. The second main reason (was) caring instructors. The first event at IU East I came to was the Scholarship Day event, and that’s where I met my academic adviser, Marcus. It was clear that he is very compassionate, very caring and loves working with students. Every faculty member I’ve seen or talked to at IU East has so much compassion for their job and wants to see students succeed. So far, everything from the professors, the campus life events, the living situation, the quality of education and more have been amazing. I can’t wait to experience what IU East has to offer for the next four years.”

Do you have any family members who have attended IU East and where did you graduate high school?
“I graduated from Richmond High School. My grandmother Lynda Jackson graduated from IU East. Her hometown is Byrdstown, Tennessee.

Branstetter: “My father attended Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. My mother and older brother both graduated from IU East and enjoyed being part of the Red Wolf family and value their education from there. I graduated from Connersville High School, and we all had such great support during the pandemic from the high school counselors, teachers and administration to make this opportunity even a possibility. I am very thankful for their perseverance during those challenging times to keep us all on track to graduate.”

Thomas: “I do not have any family who attended IU East in the past. I graduated from Richmond High School in June 2022.”

Snyder: “I have three family members attending IU East right now (2022-23), but I have zero that are alumni. I have a stepsister who is in the nursing program and two cousins that are in the business program. I graduated from Monroe Central High School, a school located about 15 minutes east of Muncie.”

About the Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholars
Herbert Presidential Scholars are an exceptional group of talented and diverse young men and women. To ensure students make the most of their education at IU, the program provides scholars with a number of academic and career resources designed to support, enrich, and educate. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these resources and all of the opportunities available. Information on benefit details, programs, and networking opportunities can be accessed online at https://herbertscholars.iu.edu/.