SHS graduate receives $40,000 scholarship

The Schwarz Family Foundation Scholarship was the icing on the cake.

Grace Schrader, a 2022 graduate of Seymour High School, already had received the presidential and honors scholarships from Ball State University, the Ruby and Floyd W. Martin Scholarship from the Community Foundation of Jackson County and the Frank O’Bannon Grant.

Then at the end of June, she learned she was one of 10 Schwarz scholarship recipients. It’s valued at $10,000 per year for a total of $40,000.

Adding all of her scholarships up, she will have $27,000 per year to cover all of her college expenses and even have some to spare.

Schrader was eligible to apply for the scholarship because her mother, Jennifer Penner, has been a Schwarz Group Co. employee for at least three years. Penner has been office manager at The Royal Group in Seymour for about four years.

Plus, Schrader had to have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 for the most recent school year and be enrolled full time or accepted at any regionally accredited college, university, trade or technical school for the 2022-23 academic year.

Once Penner received word her daughter earned the scholarship, she went to Girls Inc. of Jackson County in Seymour, where Schrader is working this summer, and was crying happy tears.

“She told me and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ because I was surprised but also like, ‘Wow! I just got $40,000 for college. That’s a big relief,’” Schrader said. “It’s just a big accomplishment that all of my hard work and dedication to schoolwork and staying engaged and dedicated, it paid off. It’s a big relief knowing that I’m going to be debt-free from college.”

Upon receiving the news, Penner said her emotions went from disbelief to overjoyed, appreciative and relieved.

“I have watched my daughter work so hard to keep straight A’s while also striving to do her best in athletics and keeping up with volunteer work while squeezing family and friends in there when she can,” she said. “It means so much to see her hard work and dedication get recognized.”

The feeling of appreciation came as she realized again how fortunate she is to work for a company that takes the time to recognize not only her daughter but several others who have worked hard to get themselves to the next level.

“What a sense of relief this brings to our family as we think about what we can do to make sure our daughter isn’t left with the burden of debt when she completes her four years of college,” Penner said. “I went to school on a scholarship with sports, so it just makes a big difference with the scholarships and the community helping. To know that she can go and finish school and not have to worry about that is something. It’s just awesome.”

Penner said her daughter was up against more than 400 people for the Schwarz scholarship. There also were 11 scholarships that were renewed.

Schrader said with her application, she had to write an essay about her community and leadership. She wrote about her involvement in basketball and National Honor Society and being a Drug Abuse Resistance Education Role Model.

At SHS, she played basketball all four years, was in NHS for two years and was a DARE Role Model and played soccer and volleyball for one year each. Plus, in the summers, she has worked at Girls Inc., where she went as a young girl and volunteered her eighth and ninth grade years.

At Ball State, she plans to study elementary education.

“I love kids, first off, so I wanted to work with kids,” she said of her major choice. “I would play with my sister, we would play school, so I always loved that aspect of it. And Ball State is one of the top teaching schools, so I was like, ‘Why would I not go there?’ because I want to be the best teacher that I can be.”

She did work-based learning in Emily Bobb’s classroom at Seymour-Redding Elementary School during her senior year, and after the first day, Penner said her daughter came home and said, “I found my purpose in life.”

“I loved it,” Schrader said. “It was a great experience because the kids, they just make you so happy, they are so happy to see you every day and it just makes you so happy to be there and supporting them and helping them through their education because you’ve already been through it.”

In college, Schrader said she also wants to get involved in clubs and extracurricular activities, and she has applied to work on campus.

“I’m probably going to do some sort of intramural sports and stuff like that for sure because I enjoy being active in sports, so I think being a part of a club or team would be fun,” she said. “I am most looking forward to making long-lasting friendships with new people, involving myself in extracurricular activities, clubs, and attending sporting events.”

As her daughter heads up to Muncie in mid-August, Penner’s advice is to work hard and take risks.

“It takes risks to find great success,” Penner said. “I want her to feel confident in herself and know that she is strong enough to handle the tough things in life. It isn’t always easy, but during the tough times, she will grow stronger and braver.”

Also, don’t miss opportunities because you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone.

“I want her to know that life was meant to be fully enjoyed, and she should surround herself with people and things she loves, and with that will come great success,” Penner said. “When going to visit Grace, I am most looking forward to attending some sports events, meeting her new friends and seeing her favorite areas of the campus. I have no doubt that she will thrive and fully enjoy every minute.“