Legacy Foundation awards six Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships to Lake County students


Through his nonprofit, ThinkBrave Foundation, high school student Drake Abramson has awarded over $1,500 in scholarships in the past three years. This year he will be the one receiving a scholarship, along with five other students selected for their outstanding achievement, character, and community service.

Legacy Foundation announced Abramson, Dennis Colomes, Alexander Fitt, Jodie James, Perima Shah, and Alyssa Vargas as recipients of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Lake County, Indiana. The scholarship covers four years of undergraduate tuition, plus a yearly book stipend, for any public or private Indiana college or university.

“Again this year we were encouraged and inspired by the high caliber of students in the Lake County. It brings optimism to see these young adults who will no doubt be leaders in our community one day, whether it be on the political, medical or business front,” said Legacy Foundation Scholarship Administrator Jodi Kateiva.

Drake Abramson started the ThinkBrave Foundation to promote epilepsy education and awareness and raise scholarship funds for students with health challenges. “I had my first recognized seizure on the football field when I was in seventh grade,” Drake said. “When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I decided to take my love of football and my passion for raising awareness and put them together for a good cause.”

Abramson is on the football and wrestling teams at Thomas Edison Senior High School. He is a member of National Honor Society and Class Council. He plans to pursue a degree in political science and law at Notre Dame.

Dennis Colomes attends Griffith High School and plans to study computer software engineering at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Colomes is a member of National Honor Society and Student Council. He plays on the varsity baseball team and was named the Alex Miloshof Baseball Tournament Championship Game MVP. Additionally, Colomes participates in the extra-curricular activities: DECA and Math Bowl.

Alexander Fitt is a senior at Highland High School. He plans to study biochemistry at Indiana University next fall. Fitt is the Varsity Golf Team Captain. He has been Student Government Class Treasurer and Class Representative for four years. Fitt's a custodian for the local community center; he works at Blue Top Drive-In Diner; he's an assistant athletic trainer at school; and he teaches Bible study to pre-school students.

Lowell High School student, Jodie James, plans to study political science at Indiana University. James is a member of National Honor Society, Academic Decathlon, and Student Council. She is captain of the fencing team, a young adult committee member for Community of Christ Chicagoland and a member of Lowell’s Distinguished Young Women.

James’ teacher said, “Jodie is a major talent, thinker, and scholar. Her future does not offer questions about her success; her future offers questions of where she will want to make her mark.”

Perima Shah serves as Student Government Treasurer, Historian and Senior Representative at Munster High School. Shah was Chess Team Captain for three years and a Varsity Debate Team member. She has aspirations of becoming a doctor and worked for two summers at Purdue University Northwest performing particle physics research. She is HUM Youth Group President at the Indian American Cultural Center and volunteers at St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home. Shah plans to attend Indiana University.

Alyssa Vargas will be a first-generation college student when she attends Purdue University next fall where she plans to study biology. “This scholarship money will give me the opportunity to truly thrive and make the most out of my college experience,” said Vargas.

Vargas is Varsity Volleyball Team Captain at Calumet New Tech High School. She is a freshman mentor, school tour guide, and marching band leader. She volunteers as an elementary school volleyball coach and a tutor.

Over 250 applications were submitted from high schools throughout Lake County. Legacy Foundation’s scholarship committee interviewed applicants from 25 high schools and submitted six finalists to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. (ICI) for final selection of the recipients as is required by the Lilly Endowment Inc. ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree-granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree. There were 142 scholarships awarded statewide.

“Although it is always a challenging process for the Review Committee, I am confident that these young scholars will make great strides towards improving Indiana and our community,” said Kateiva.