New scholarship helps local teens start college


JASPER — A new Vincennes University Jasper Campus scholarship offered several Dubois County college freshman the chance to start their studies debt free.

On Aug. 16, 10 local high school graduates gathered at VUJC for a scholarship luncheon where they were awarded the inaugural Dubois County Scholastic Excellence Award. The scholarship offers full tuition for their freshman year; a $500 bookstore stipend per semester for books and supplies; a laptop computer; and access to a dedicated study lounge equipped with an interactive collaborate table and Wi-Fi. The scholarship is only usable at VUJC.

“It makes college a little bit easier, knowing I don’t have to pay back loans yet,” said Southridge graduate Rhetta Sternberg.

Sternberg is attending VUJC to fulfill general education requirements, then plans to transfer to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville to study secondary education and administration. At that point, she said, she anticipates having to take out student loans.

Sternberg initially decided to attend VUJC to fulfill her general education requirements because it allowed her to live at home, continue working at Uebelhor and Sons Toyota and save some money on her education. Winning the scholarship was an added bonus.

“It was a very nice surprise,” she said.

Jasper graduate Breann Lechner remembers the scholarship being a pleasant surprise for her, too. Like Sternberg, Lechner decided to start her studies at VUJC to save money. She’s unsure of what she wants her major to be, so studying at VUJC gave her a chance to get the general education requirements out of the way before having to declare a path of study. Earning the scholarship reminded her that she’d made the right choice.

“The scholarship was a big thing,” she said.

Lechner also appreciated being rewarded for her high academic performance. She said it often seems that high academic performers lose the spotlight to athletics, but the scholarship helped put academics back in the spotlight for her.

The scholarship is funded through the Vincennes University Jasper Campus Foundation and was announced in April. The scholarship is only available to Dubois County graduating seniors who have a high school cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Once awarded the scholarship, students must meet the admissions requirements of VUJC; maintain a semester grade point average of 2.0 or above; qualify for the in-state tuition rate; and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

“I’m grateful for the continued support of the VUJ Foundation to create this important scholarship opportunity for Dubois County students,” Christian Blome, assistant vice president and dean of VUJC, said in a press release. “This award will allow qualified students to get started on the VUJ campus with no out-of-pocket expenses and without the need for student loans.”

The foundation’s board will review the scholarship at its next meeting and determine if it will continue to be offered. Assistant Director of Admissions Karen Mundy said she’s optimistic.

“We are hoping to continue to offer the scholarship,” she said via email. “We are so lucky that the VUJ Foundation supports this scholarship and our students.”

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