Brownstown senior named Lilly Scholar


Trey Hackman received an early Christmas present.

Earlier this month, Sue Smith, vice president of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, traveled to Brownstown Central High School to inform the senior he is the 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered locally by the Community Foundation of Jackson County, provides full tuition, required fees and a book stipend of up to $900 per year for up to four years of undergraduate study at any Indiana public or private college or university.

Hackman, the son of Stuart and Stephanie Hackman of Vallonia, was selected from a group of 142 applicants from all six high schools in Jackson County, Smith said.

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Trey said the scholarship was part of a packet all seniors received where they could fill out one application and it made them eligible for several local scholarships.

"Many seniors filled out the application, so I did, too, and did not think much of it. I never thought I would actually receive this amazing gift," he said. "It was a very humbling experience to be chosen for the Lilly. I know so many people, not only from Brownstown, that are also so qualified. I feel bad for the person that has to pick the winner of this scholarship."

When Trey shared the news with his mother, she said she immediately was overcome with emotion and tears were flowing. That happened again when she called her husband.

"First, there was a feeling of shock and disbelief that this was actually happening and then tremendous gratitude and prayers of thanksgiving followed," Stephanie said. "A week later, I still catch myself having the thought, ‘Did that really just happen?’"

There are now 39 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars from Jackson County with the first recipient selected in 1998. During the 2020-21 academic year, Trey will be among four Jackson County Lilly Scholars on college campuses throughout Indiana.

Criteria for selection included academic achievement, school and community activities showing depth of involvement and leadership and employment showing time management and a desire to help oneself.

Additional criteria included Advanced Placement and honors classes taken in high school, a required essay and some evidence of financial need.

After the Community Foundation’s scholarship committee narrowed the field, finalists’ names were submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc., the statewide administrator of the scholarship program, for the final selection of the recipient. Independent Colleges of Indiana is a nonprofit corporation that represents 30 regionally accredited degree-granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

Trey said the scholarship provides a lot of relief as he prepares to head to Purdue University or University of Notre Dame to study aerospace engineering.

"This scholarship has opened up so many opportunities for me," he said. "Previously, I was considering joining the military to pay for my college. Now, I have such an amazing opportunity that I am so grateful for."

Stephanie said Trey is the third child of four in the family, and both of his older sisters are Indiana University graduates.

"College, of course, is a tremendous financial burden for us and for all families who have college-bound children," she said. "Not only does this scholarship alleviate some of that burden, but it is also gives Trey an option of considering Notre Dame for his degree, something that would have been out of reach financially for him to even consider otherwise."

Trey is excited to see where the future takes him.

"I am looking forward to studying the things that really interest me without the obligation of college debt," he said. "I am looking forward to participating in college clubs, too. Purdue has the largest rocket engine testing facility of any college in the nation. I would really enjoy working around that."

In terms of his ultimate career goal, Trey said it’s to work for Elon Musk at SpaceX.

"He is my role model, and I would love to work for him at any one of his companies," he said.

Trey always has been enthralled with everything to do with airplanes, rockets and space exploration, Stephanie said. Earlier this year, he was one of 25 student ambassadors for the Back to Space program.

"Trey can tell you about all the many things that he has made and designed and also about his Back to Space experiences in Florida, Texas and California," Stephanie said. "They launched a weather balloon in California, and he designed the camera and live feed of being able to watch from the ground the camera on the weather balloon. Also, about his adventure in the desert trying to locate the balloon after it landed."

Besides his love for flight, Trey is artistically and musically gifted, Stephanie said.

She and Stu are excited to see where Trey’s passions lead him in life.

"We look forward to being able to watch him do the things he has always loved," she said. "As educators, of course we are both well aware of the privilege and honor that comes with being chosen a Lilly Scholar representing Jackson County, and we are of course very proud of Trey and his hard work and determination. We are so thankful and appreciative of this tremendous award and honor. We feel so very blessed."

The scholarship is the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Indiana students reach higher levels of education, Smith said. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship program are to:

  • Help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana
  • Increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities
  • Encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state

Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows, said Dan Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

"Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the foundation brought other partners from across the county together to establish the Jackson County Learning Center, and we remain committed to that goal," Davis said. "It is certainly part of our guiding efforts in administering scholarship funds entrusted to the foundation."

The foundation’s efforts to improve educational opportunities extends beyond programs focused on college, including support of the Jackson County Education Coalition’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for 4-year-olds and the encouragement of workforce development in partnership with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and others.

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The Community Foundation of Jackson County offers endowment services, gift planning, charitable gift annuities and scholarship administration.

For information or to make a donation, call 812-523-4483.


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