Surprised Sean Ramey earns 2018 Putnam Lilly Scholarship
Already a Rising Star, Eagle Scout, National Honor Society president, tennis champ and more, you wouldn’t think there would be many accolades -- or surprises for that matter -- left for Greencastle High School senior Sean Evan Ramey.
But you would be wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Tuesday afternoon, Ramey got the surprise of his life in the Greencastle High School library. And along with it came the coveted 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship as awarded by the Putnam County Community Foundation.
“This is so awesome, I’m so surprised,” Ramey said as he was named the 2018 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar for Putnam County.
The prestigious scholarship provides him full tuition and fees for four years of attendance at any Indiana college or university. In addition, winners receive a $900 annual stipend for required books and equipment.
Sean, the son of Brian and Lynn Ramey, will study engineering.
Both Sean and his mother were caught up in the subterfuge that led up to Tuesday’s announcement. They were led to believe they were needed as part of a School Improvement Committee meeting during the day’s final period.
Guidance assistant Brenda Meyer, who assists students with scholarship applications, said the committee was ostensibly looking at making more academic adjustments and had put the Rameys in a room with Principal Russ Hesler, who had even created an agenda for effect.
“They (the Rameys) came prepared for the meeting,” Meyer said. “I don’t think it hit them until they saw Debbi (Christy) and Dean (Gambill) in here.”
Meyer said she met with Rose White, Greencastle’s other Lilly Scholarship finalist, before the last hour to let her know the final outcome. She and Ramey were not only in the same class, econ, that hour but sit right across from each other. The third county finalist was Abigail Spencer of North Putnam.
Selection criteria for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship (LECS) is based on scholastic abilities and intellectual pursuits, capacity to lead and motivate fellow students, social commitment and extracurricular involvement, and the ability to articulate career plans that demonstrate motivation and initiative.
While informing Ramey that he was the 2018 Lilly Scholar, Debbi Christy, who chairs the LECS Selection Committee, told the surprised senior, “The Lilly Committee first met you on paper by reviewing your scholarship application packet. Your commitment to excellence was evident. We got to meet you when we invited you to the dinner interview. At final interview, we learned more in depth about your heart, your heart for children and your work teaching tennis to children. All of that made us say, ‘Wow.’”
She added that Ramey is “a kid at heart who cares about the heart of kids.”
A GHS teacher, while recommending him for the scholarship, wrote of Ramey, “While it is probably true that Sean is academically in the top 10 highest-performing students that I have taught in my career that is not what I will remember most about him. No, what I will remember the most about Sean is his decency.
“While Sean has more cause than her peers to have an inflated ego, he simply doesn’t,” the teacher continued. “He’s just a good human being. At the end of the day, it isn’t going to matter what your school GPA was or how fast you could run, but it will matter what kind of a person you were. Sean is that person.”
That is further reflected when you ask Sean about his passion.
“Math, science, tennis, Pokémon Go and Legos are all passions of mine to some degree; however, when I really boil it down, my greatest passion is, quite simply, spending time with my family (including sister Molly). Early on, my mom identified ‘Quality Time’ as my love language. To this day, whenever I have free time, I am excited when my family can do something together no matter how exciting or boring.
“To me, time is the greatest gift a person can give to someone else, and time spent with people you love is the most valuable and meaningful of all. I am blessed to have a wonderful, close family that loves, supports and encourages me. As I get older, I realize just how important a strong family unit has been to my development; it has influenced me academically, morally, emotionally and physically. I want the same for my children some day, which is why I want to stay close to family by going to college and working in Indiana.”
During his career at GHS, Ramey has been a leader in a variety of organizations. He currently serves as president of the National Honor Society, secretary of Student Government, vice president of the Latin Club and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Ramey also represents Greencastle High School as four-year member of Student Ambassadors and the Academic Super Bowl Mathematics team.
Ramey has received numerous awards and recognitions, including attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, being named an Indiana Association of School Principals Rising Star and being selected to attend the Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders.
As an athlete, Sean has distinguished himself on the tennis court all four years of his high school career. This year he served as the captain of the tennis team and played No. 1 singles. He has been named Academic All-Conference and is an Academic All-State candidate. Additionally, he volunteers as a manager for the GHS girls’ tennis team.
Ramey’s selection, as GHS Principal Hesler noted, marks the fourth Greencastle Lilly Scholarship winner in five years. North Putnam’s David Flannelly was the 2017 winner, ending a three-year run of GHS winners, Zach Wilkerson, 2016; Taylor Secrest, 2015 (after Cora Neudeck of South Putnam declined the scholarship); and Melody White, 2014.
The LECS is selected following a review process by the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Selection Committee from the Putnam County Community Foundation. The Selection Committee was composed of eight voting members, with two members residing within each of the geographic areas served by the four county school corporations. The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship is highly competitive. There were 20 qualified applicants for the one scholarship award. The selection process included a blind review for the first three phases, followed by a dinner in which the Selection Committee met with six semifinalists. The selection process concluded with four finalists having individual interviews with the committee.
Following the personal interviews, the committee submitted their nominee and alternates to Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc. (ICI) for final approval. ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state which administers the scholarship program.
The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach high levels of education.
This year, 142 scholarships were awarded statewide. More than 4,400 scholarships have been awarded statewide with 36 Putnam County students being named Lilly Endowment Community Scholars since the program began in 1998.
The Putnam County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1985 to help donors establish endowments, award grants and provide leadership, enriching the quality of life and strengthening community in Putnam County. The Foundation has been entrusted with more than 280 funds and endowments for donors, supporting a variety of charitable purposes.