Read about our scholarship recipients here!

Joseph Drake

Joseph gets ready to call his family after being awarded the Lilly.

Read more about Joseph’s travels by visiting his blog:

“Simply put, my education happened because of this scholarship,” says Joseph Drake, speaking of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship he received through the BCCF. Without having to worry about paying for the first four years of college, Joseph was able to take his educational experience to the next level and across the globe. Complimenting his degrees, Joseph was a part of an Archaeological dig in Belize, a geology course in Montana, and a marine biology expedition in the Dominican Republic (mapping an underwater preserve & wrecked pirate ship!). He worked with the United States Forest Service exploring the southwest, the Grand Canyon, working on biological surveys of endangered species, and preserving Native American relics. He went on to work for the National Park Service and a variety of universities as a biological technician in the American West and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Following his double Bachelor’s degrees from IU, a Masters from Texas Tech University (during which he helped start the city’s first community garden), and certificates from both, Joseph is now a Ph.D. Student at the University of Massachusetts. The support from the scholarship didn’t end with his first degree, he says, “…the trust that the Lilly Community Endowment had extended to me, provided a springboard for further academic pursuits. With it, I was able to apply to a graduate program a step ahead of many other qualified candidates.”  

While his handiwork is worldwide, Joseph’s heart lies in his community.

“Through all of my adventures, travels, and experiences, I have come to realize just how amazing and special Brown County is. Describing Brown County to people you meet is harder than you might think,” Joseph says, “but it always comes down to one word: home.”


Sarah Kurdziel

Sarah volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul.

Sarah Kurdziel is the embodiment of encouragement for higher education. Her advice to students has been to dream, regardless of the obstacles they might face. She says, “I think they just need to know it’s possible, they need to understand that they can become something.” As a former recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, Sarah studies at Purdue University, focusing her work on serving those who can’t help themselves. “I would not be going into veterinary medicine without the Lilly,” Sarah says. While she cites that earning the scholarship itself gave her more confidence, it was through the nurturing of the BCCF staff that she learned to “be an advocate for yourself.” This perspective has helped her become involved in organizing her campus Relay for Life, acting as President of Rotaract for the Lafayette community, and securing an oncology lab research position (a feat that is quite rare to see as a freshman). Finding herself heavily involved in both her college and home community, Kurdziel encourages others to do the same, “The more you give back, the more that you’ll want to give back.”

Emma Bawinkel

With the diligence and drive expressive of a golf club, Emma Bawinkel utilizes the support of the Richard A. Bowden scholarship to attend Eastern Kentucky University. Following a passion she discovered during high school, Emma pursues her degree in Professional Golf Management and is only one of three women in the incoming freshman program. In the community, Emma shares her love of teaching golf at the Salt Creek Kids’ Camp. “Golf is something you can teach people,” she says, “it’s based off of character more than anything, really based on integrity and just helping kids understand that.” As a competitive sport, golf requires a healthy mindset to be able to accept the results with a desire for improvement. Regardless of the outcome of the game, Bawinkel refuses to be discouraged by a loss, realizing that it simply means that “Somebody has worked harder than you and you just need to work harder than them.” After moving to Nashville when she was young, Emma now calls it her home. “It’s really fun to be a part of it,” she says of Brown County, “If you go away from it and come back, it really does feel like coming home. I’ve always loved that feeling.