Seymour High School senior named 2023 Lilly Endowment Scholar


The Community Foundation of Jackson County has announced the recipient of the 2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Jackson County – Ekaterina “Katya” Cox, a senior at Seymour High School.

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are known for their community involvement, academic achievement, character and leadership, according to a news release from the foundation.

There were 123 Jackson County applicants this year for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.

That list was narrowed to nine finalists, and Cox was then selected as the nominee, Foundation Vice President Sue Smith said.

“Ekaterina was selected from a group of outstanding applicants from all six high schools in Jackson County,” Smith said.

With the selection of Cox, there are now 42 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars from Jackson County, with the first recipient selected in 1998. During the 2023-24 academic year, there will be four Jackson County Lilly Scholars on college campuses throughout Indiana.

Katya, which is the name most people know her by, is the daughter of Natalia and David Cox of Seymour.

When she was first told she had gotten the blessing of receiving the Lilly scholarship, she felt immense relief, she said.

“It was like an an elephant had stepped off my shoulders because I had been extremely worried about how I would pay for college,” Katya said. “It’s no secret that college is very expensive, and the thought of taking on so much debt at a young age was terrifying, so all I could feel was relief. Additionally, I was very joyful and proud because all of my efforts had been recognized.”

She said her favorite class was AP physics because it was such a challenge and at times felt impossible, but because of that, any success she had in that class was amplified by her hard work.

“I remember clapping and cheering after getting the right answers on homework assignments because it was quite the accomplishment after spending half an hour on a problem,” Katya said. “SHS has some of the finest teachers in the land, the most loving, caring and friendly, but my most treasured teacher of all time is Laura Cottrill.”

She said anyone who has met Cottrill would know why because it only takes being near her to feel the kindness, compassion and love that radiates from her.

“She has the ability to see people for who they truly are and give anyone a chance, and the amount of comfort and love she has shown me are gifts I am and always will be endlessly grateful for,” Katya said.

As a student at Seymour, she has been very involved as a member of the swim team, Riley Dance Marathon, Key Club, Best Buddies, student government, Hope Squad and other clubs.

“I really enjoyed planning supply drives for Red Sky Rescue through Key Club, and being a part of the swim team has been amazing and immensely rewarding,” Katya said. “This year, I also got to participate in the school musical, which was so fun.”

She loves dogs very, very much, and that is why she spends a lot of her my free time helping out at Red Sky Rescue and bringing along her eighth grade brother, Nikita Cox, with her, Katya said.

“Working with the dogs is great for both me and the dogs. We make each other happy and show each other love,” she said. “I get snuggles in exchange for socializing the dogs so that they can become more adoptable.”

Katya loves all of the dogs there but has a very special baby girl at Red Sky named Blossom.

“She is deaf, which I found fascinating, especially since it makes her such a good dog,” she said. “She is amazing to go for walks with because she always keeps an eye out for me and never pulls on the leash since she relies on sight to stay with me. Blossom also gives the best snuggles and snorts when she is happy, so what’s not to love?”

Katya is in the process of determining where she will attend college next year and is interested in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“As a child, she wanted to be an astronaut,” her mother said.

She has chosen the field of engineering as her major because it is simultaneously the past, present and future.

“The word engineer, though, without a concrete meaning has always been associated with the largest turning points of the world, from the wheel to walking on the moon,” Katya said. “These advancements in our society are milestones I wish to be a part of, especially when it comes to creating a greener and more accessible future for all.”

She sends a very warm thank you to her family, friends, coaches and teachers for their unwavering support and kind words.

“As I have worked hard to accomplish my goals and give myself the opportunity to make the life I wish to have for myself, they have stuck beside me, they have helped me and they have seen the good in me even when I couldn’t,” Katya said.

Each Lilly scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a stipend of up to $900 per year for required books and equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university.

In nominating Jackson County’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholar, consideration was given to academic achievement, advanced curriculum, school and community activities, a required essay and financial need by the community foundation’s scholarship sommittee.

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

“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.

The Community Foundation of Jackson County offers endowment services, gift planning, charitable gift annuities and scholarship administration. Its assets total more than $18 million. The foundation administers more than 250 funds.

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

The Community Foundation office is located at 107 Community Drive in Seymour.

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