“I had the benefit of receiving scholarships when I was going to post-secondary education. I want to be able to help provide that for others.”
– Cherylynn Schilling
Cherylynn Schilling loves being in nature. It's the driving force behind her career as a water resources engineer.
Although some may think otherwise, living near downtown Indianapolis doesn’t inhibit Schilling’s call to be near water and nature.
Schilling’s favorite part of Ivy Tech Community College’s Indianapolis campus is its presence in urban nature.
“It's that proximity to the Fall Creek,” Schilling said. “I just love being able to stop on the bridges crossing the street and look at all this nature that's happening right smack dab in the middle of our city.”
While on a run one day in 2022, Schilling had a light bulb moment of colliding two of her missions into one initiative. She was rounding the south side of Fall Creek Trail, near Ivy Tech Indianapolis, when she realized she could give back and help build the pipeline for future engineers by donating to Ivy Tech Indianapolis.
“I had already felt compelled at this point to generally give a scholarship opportunity or some sort of financial assistance to folks that wanted to improve their lives,” Schilling said. “And I was like, ‘you know, what better way to impact the community that I live in than giving to this school that I can almost see from my house?’”
Because of her passion for engineering, construction, and trades, Schilling formed the LOIS Scholarship in 2023. The scholarship is awarded to an Indianapolis student from a low-income, underrepresented community who is pursuing an engineering or construction-related career path.
“A lot relies on folks that can be technicians or work construction. Like a lot of industries, there needs to be a pipeline for that. And there are a lot of really great opportunities to make a career for yourself in this field,” Schilling said.
Through the LOIS Scholarship, Schilling’s hope is it provides someone with a chance to get into a stable and fulfilling career. The scholarship will be available to award in fall 2023.
“A school like a community college is where I want to help folks go because they’re a lot more accessible, and the barrier to entry is a lot less,” Schilling said. “It could just really change someone's life.”
The LOIS scholarship is named after Schilling’s grandmother, and the acronym stands for “Lifting Our Indianapolis Students.”
“That was my grandma's name,” Schilling said. “She was the most caring person who loved everybody and welcomed everybody. She was a would-do-anything-for-anybody kind of person.”
Although Schilling comes from a single-parent household, she says she had a strong support system growing up in rural southeast Indiana between her father, grandparents, and aunt and uncle.
“We were like a little community out in the country,” Schilling chuckled. “Even though we didn't have a ton of money, at the very least, I had family members – a whole community – that supported me. They were willing to do whatever they needed to do to eliminate any barriers in the way of me being able to do well in school. So I always had a roof over my head, food on the table, and family members that would help me with classes if I needed it.”
Schilling said she scraped up every dollar she could to attend college, and that included applying for scholarships.
“I had the benefit of receiving scholarships when I was going to post-secondary education. I want to be able to help provide that for others,” Schilling said.
About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.