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Two La Porte County students have been named recipients of full tuition, four-year scholarships as Unity Foundation of La Porte County 2012 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars.
Brittany Belkiewitz and Mitchell Orzech will receive full tuition to the Indiana college of their choice, and an annual $900 stipend for required books and equipment.

Brittany Belkiewitz is a La Porte High School student and is the daughter of Jeffery and Marilyn Belkiewitz.  Brittany is ranked first in her class of 452 and plans to attend Indiana University to study International Relations, Russian and other foreign languages which will directly correlate with her goal to become a diplomat for the United States.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, Ecology Club, Spanish Club, Athletic Advisory Council, Leadership La Porte County, Indiana Work Ethic Program, and Postponing Sexual Involvement, and has also been editor-in-chief of the school paper for two years.  Brittany competes in varsity cross-country and track and field.  She has volunteered at an orphanage in Chile and experienced three other mission trips with her church youth group.  For the past four years Brittany has aided in highway clean-Up, La Porte Teen Court, collected pledges for CROP, helped the local Salvation Army and provided homework assistance through READ La Porte County.  She has assisted with community initiatives for the Worthy Women’s Recovery Home and works as a transcriptionist for a local poet.  Brittany is a true leader in her service to others.

Mitchell Orzech is a Michigan City High School student and the son of Michael and Nicole Orzech.  Mitchell is ranked first in his class of 416 and plans to attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to study mathematics and physics.  He is a National Honor Society member, Hoosier Boys State delegate, Student Council officer, and a member of the Math Team, Science Club Plus, Spanish Honor Society, and Steering Committee and contributed in Operation Catapult, winning the “Counselor in Training” and “Best Project” award.  He also participated in swimming for four years and soccer for two. Mitchell has volunteered at IU Health La Porte VNA Services and Coolspring Elementary School. He tutored children throughout his high school career, helped special needs children play soccer, and has worked as a lifeguard.  Mitchell is an excellent communicator and extremely personable.  His self confidence and ability to support his strong convictions will undoubtedly aid him in his future career in a new field of mathematical engineering.

The Unity Foundation of La Porte County received 50 applications from students throughout La Porte County.  Applicants were judged on their academic achievement, service to others, extracurricular activities and, to a lesser extent, financial need.  A committee comprised of La Porte County residents reviewed the applications, not knowing the applicants’ names until after the finalists were selected.  Ten finalists were then interviewed, with two becoming the nominees and one becoming the alternate for the awards.  Their names were submitted to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc., for the final decision.

Daryl L. Crockett, 2012 Chairman of the Unity Foundation Lilly Endowment Scholarship Committee said,The applications submitted this year, were once again, truly outstanding.  The committee had an extremely difficult task in choosing from so many deserving applicants. The students from La Porte County were inspiring in their academic achievements, leadership abilities and dedication to their communities.”

Independent Colleges of Indiana (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 currently 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.

Past Lilly Endowment Scholarship recipients from La Porte County are:  Ryan Byers, Kelsey Tuholski, Mindy (Marsh) Heidel, Jada Anderson, Melissa Spurr, Aaron Albrecht, Peter Davis, Suzanne Dolembo, Laura Durazzo, Macara (Hostetler) Aloi, Patricia (Jongkind) Willhite, William Kelly, Andrew Knaup, Mary Kutch, Zachary Lute, Sara Mahoney, Cheryl Miller Winters, Mary Rodecap, Melanie Thomas, Elizabeth (Hunter) VanHook, Keith Kalvaitis, Kyle Kownacki, Brett McNeal, Kathryn Meyers, Patricia Minich, Federico Pabon, Alexandra Pagels, Virginia Pagels, Teresa Spence, Sarah Valatka, Erica Valdez,  Jennifer (Warfel) Juskiewicz, Sandra (Wood) Graves, Charles Zila, Angela Zolvinski, Jonathan Gray, Jessica Thompson, Anna Kammrath, Karen Wassel, Sondra Jeske, Robert Wedow, Yana Alekseeva, Ian Nielson, Jill Fischer, Jackson Troxel, Jessica Nieman, and Jana Hunsley.

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