Shakamak’s Evan Cruse named 2019 Lilly Scholar

A Shakamak student has been named the 2019 Lilly Scholar for Greene County.

The Greene County Foundation presented the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship to Evan Cruse Tuesday morning. Foundation Program Manager Brandon Sparks presented the scholarship to Cruse in the Shakamak Media Center.

Sparks said the scholarship pays full tuition to his choice of any accredited public or private nonprofit college or university in Indiana, and a yearly stipend of up to $900 for required books and equipment.

Evan Cruse (front, center) sits with his parents, Greg and Julia, as well as (back from right) Shakamak High School principal Brent Anderson, Foundation Program Manager Brandon Sparks and Shakamak Superintendent Dan Noel following the presentation of the 2019 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.By Sabrina StockrahmOrder this photo

Cruse is the son of Greg Cruse of Worthington and Julia Cruse of Jasonville.

Cruse said he was confused to see his parents and school staff standing around the media center at Shakamak Tuesday morning, but it still took a few minutes to process that he was being surprised with the scholarship.

“I sit at that computer (in the media center) every day to work on scholarships, and they said there was something wrong with it and I was supposed to come and look at it,” Cruse said. “I didn’t comprehend who everyone was. I just saw a big line of people standing there. I thought I had walked into a teacher’s meeting.”

Seeing his parents at the school was not out of the norm. His mom works in the building a couple days a week and his dad sometimes helps with electrical training, adding he was prepared to fib and say he was going to help one of the teachers with training.

Cruse said the Lilly Scholarship will allow him to go to his school of choice, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to study mechanical engineering.

“I was planning on Purdue or Rose-Hulman and it depended on this scholarship. I preferred Rose-Hulman. I like the school quite a bit, and the only thing keeping me from it was the financial investment,” Cruse said.

“I like to build things and I always liked to build with Legos even when I was little. I like to do hands-on work, understand how things work and apply it and that’s what he (dad) is trained in. He has been an influence there quite a bit.”

His father, Greg, is a supervising engineer at Corteva, a seed production plant.

Ultimately, Cruse said his goal after college is to stay close to home.

“I want to stay somewhat close to the area. I value family and I really do like Indiana. Florida and stuff like that are nice, but I prefer it here,” Cruse said. “I don’t mind to go on trips and stuff like that, but I always like to come back to good old Greene County.”

Cruse’s parents showed intense pride when talking about their son’s accomplishments, including the ones he does quietly to help others.

“This is such a blessing. God is so good … I’m so happy for him and proud of how hard he’s worked. If I’m laying in the water working on something in 40-degree weather, he’s right there with me without complaint. Students like him — and it’s not just him, but others — give me hope for young people,” Greg said.

Julia said after learning about her son receiving the scholarship, she said she’s overwhelmed and relieved.

“I’m so proud of him. He has worked so hard and everything has paid off,” Julia said.

His parents said Cruse used his time wisely, whether it was working hard in school or helping a neighbor clean gutters, he always puts in the maximum effort.

“He does a lot of service quietly. Whatever someone needs, he’s there and he’s reliable,” Julia said.

That hard work has shown off in his academics, as Cruse will be graduating from Shakamak with 30 college credits and a General Education Transfer Certificate from Ivy Tech.

Other projects Cruse participates in include Hoosier Boys State, National Honors Society, Lugar Symposium, Float Committee, FCA, Chess Club, and Pep Club. He has competed in track and field and has volunteered with Salvation Army, community landscaping, school construction, local soup kitchen and food pantry, and Youth Convention.

Cruse was among 36 students to apply for the scholarship, with a press release from the Greene County Foundation adding he was one of seven finalists interviewed by the scholarship committee, which were then forwarded to the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. for final selection.

The press release adds ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 30 regionally accredited, degree-granting, nonprofit independent colleges and universities in the state of Indiana.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state. To date, including this year’s 143 recipients, the LECSP has awarded over 4,600 scholarships totaling over $392 million.

The Greene County Foundation exists to be a vehicle for charitably-minded individuals to leave a lasting legacy to the community they love. Through the establishment of endowments, donors can forever support financially the causes important to them. The Greene County Foundation holds over $9.5 million in assets and has had a charitable impact in every school, library, and community in Greene County. The Foundation annually awards over $400,000 in grants through fund payouts, competitive grants, and student scholarships. Begun in 1997, the Greene County Foundation is one of 92 Community Foundations in Indiana, with one in each county. The Foundations are private charitable organizations created to serve the public good. They receive their funding through contributions from generous donors. For more information, visit or call (812) 659-3142.