County’s Lilly Scholar dreams of becoming a doctor


Claire Mehling

FERDINAND — Forest Park Junior-Senior High School senior Claire Mehling didn’t know what to think when she was called to the office earlier this week.

Wondering if she was in trouble, she made to her way to office to find her parents— Bill and Sharon Mehling of Ferdinand — there with Nona Baker, associate director of the Dubois County Community Foundation. The trio had good news. Mehling won a four-year, full tuition scholarship as the 2019 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar of Dubois County.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Mehling said Thursday morning. “I was definitely surprised.”

Mehling is the fifth consecutive Forest Park student to win the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship in Dubois County, which offers full tuition and required fees to an accredited public or private nonprofit college or university in Indiana of the winner’s choice and a $900 yearly stipend for required books and equipment. Mehling will use her award to attend Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis next fall in pursuit of a biology degree on the pre-med path.

She’s not sure what kind of doctor she wants to be yet, but participating in the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) program in high school gave her a solid foundation to start on, she said. She’s also taken Advanced Placement biology and chemistry courses to prepare for her college years.

To apply for the scholarship, Mehling filled out an application, wrote several essays and included information about her extracurriculars. Through her four years at Forest Park, she’s built an extensive resume that includes cross county, track, soccer, Student Council, Key Club and Students Against Destructive Decisions, to name a few of her activities.

The Community Foundation Scholarship Oversight Committee chose Mehling from a pool of 66 applicants from all four Dubois County high schools. Then, the committee submitted the recommendation of the nominee and alternates to Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc., the statewide scholarship administrator for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program.

Winners of the scholarship are called Lilly Scholars, and each Indiana county is allowed at least one per year. The scholarship is meant to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and to 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.

To date, Lilly Endowment has awarded over $392 million to 4,600 scholars for tuition and book stipend to Indiana students.

For Mehling, winning the scholarship means less financial stress as she pursues her medical degree, and less to worry about for the remainder of her senior year of high school.

“I’m still going to work hard and do my best,” she said. “But it definitely helps knowing I have that money for college.”

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