Nicholas Graef and Sekou Noble-Kuchera selected as Monroe County’s 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe Country has announced Monroe County’s 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipients. Nicholas Graef and Sekou Noble-Kuchera will each receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to an Indiana public or private college of their choosing. In addition to the cost of tuition, they will receive a $900 annual stipend for books and other required materials.

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Nicholas Graef of Edgewood High School is the son of Daniel and Michelle Graef. His activities have included Edgewood High Student Council, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Edgewood Leadership Academy, Environmental Club, and Monroe County Youth Council. He has participated in many athletic programs, including Edgewood High School swimming and soccer, Cutters Club Soccer, and Bloomington Swim Club. Nicholas is regarded as a passionate leader inside and outside of school. Six years ago, he launched an annual neighborhood food drive to help community families struggling with food insecurity. To date, more than 600 bags of food have been collected thanks to his compassion and leadership. Nicholas is planning to attend Purdue University in the fall with a major in industrial engineering.

“I am incredibly blessed to be named a Lilly Scholar of Monroe County by the Community Foundation,” said Nicholas Graef. “I am especially grateful for Edgewood’s education and values that have motivated me to give back — specifically intermediate teacher Mrs. Crawford who explained that your life’s ambitions begin in 5th grade. I truly look forward to continuing a lifetime of service that Edgewood urges all of its students to pursue.”

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Sekou Noble-Kuchera of Bloomington High School North is the son of Jenny and Peter Noble-Kuchera. His activities have included Bloomington High School North Science Olympiad Team, Academic Superbowl Team, and interning in the Indiana University Kehoe Biology Lab, and with WonderLab’s Science Summer Camp. His athletic activities have included Bloomington High School North Soccer and Cutters Club Soccer, both as a player and referee. With more than 400 volunteer hours at WonderLab, Sekou is recognized as a motivated and dedicated leader passionate about sharing his love and excitement of science with people of all ages. Sekou plans to attend Indiana University in the fall with a major in biology.

“I am incredibly honored to be able to give back to my community as a Lilly Scholar, said Sekou Noble-Kuchera. “I wouldn’t be here without the support of my amazing family, teachers, and mentors over the years. I also want to thank the Community Foundation and the Lilly Endowment for making this opportunity possible.”

“In Monroe County, our Lilly Scholarship Finalists are chosen not just for their academic success, but also for how they give back to their communities,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “Through their deeds and actions, Nicholas and Sekou have exhibited leadership, integrity, and depth of character. We look forward to following each of their journeys and invite them back to seek out careers in Monroe County or the Indiana Uplands region after they complete their educations.”

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has also announced that the eight other 2020 Lilly Scholarship finalists will receive $1,000 scholarships to use at a college or university of their choosing:

2020 JPMorgan Chase Bank Scholarship Recipients

  • Joelle Jackson, Bloomington High School North
  • Ava Crees, Bloomington High School South

2020 Community Foundation Scholarship Recipients

  • Hadley Abram, Bloomington High School North
  • Marielle Berin, Bloomington High School North
  • Joy Sera Bhattacharya, Bloomington High School North
  • Lexie Floyd, Bloomington High School North
  • Erica Goldsworthy, Bloomington High School North
  • Mairéad Kennedy, Bloomington High School South

The ten finalists were selected from among 20 semifinalists and 87 total applicants from Monroe County high schools. See more information and a complete list of semifinalists.

“There are so many incredible young people doing amazing things in our community,” said Jessika Hane, chair of the Community Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee. “Every year, we are blown away by the quality of applicants for the Monroe County’s Lilly Scholarship. While the selection process is no easy task, we are inspired by the potential of all these graduating seniors and the phenomenal difference they will make in our communities.”

The Community Foundation Scholarship Selection Committee, which is made up of members of the community and former Monroe County Lilly Scholars, blindly reviewed and scored the semifinalists’ applications to select the ten finalists. Next, the finalists were interviewed, and their interview scores combined with scoring from the written application. The finalist’s rankings, along with the committee’s recommendations for scholarship recipients, were submitted to the statewide scholarship administrator Independent Colleges of Indiana for final selection of Monroe County’s two 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars.

In selecting the recipients for the Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, consideration is given to student activities and achievements, community and civic service, academic performance, and leadership potential.

Since 1998, the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program has assisted more than 4,769 Indiana high school graduates statewide with more than $405 million in scholarship tuition to pursue baccalaureate degrees at Indiana colleges and universities.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) 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.

The program is administered by Independent Colleges of Indiana and community foundations in each of Indiana’s 92 counties.

Previous Lilly scholarship recipients from Monroe County include:


Christian Gettelfinger (BHSN); Indiana University
Calvin Prenkert (BHSS); Butler University


Aaron Nunes (BHSS); Purdue University
Greta Stephenson (BHSN); Indiana University


Betsy Beggs (BHSS); DePauw University
Frances Kincaid (BHSN); Indiana University


Greer King (BHSN); Indiana University
Brian Emmons (BHSN); Indiana University


Sidrah Din (BHSS); Rose-Hulman
Riley Callahan (Lighthouse Christian Academy); Rose-Hulman


Emma St. John (BHSN); Indiana University
Winston Winkler (BHSN); Indiana University


Hannah Alani (BHSS); Indiana University
Shannon Jager (BHSN); DePauw University


Evelyn Bauman (BHSS); Notre Dame
Alex St. John (BHSN); Indiana University


Maha Elsarrag (BHSN); Indiana University
Lynne Bauman (BHSS); Notre Dame


Bhavin Patel (BHSN); Indiana University
Stephen Zerfas (BHSN); Notre Dame


Miranda Arthur (Edgewood); Butler
Audrey Ernst (Edgewood); University of Indianapolis


Ashley Larason (BHSS); Purdue University
Thomas Weakley (Edgewood); DePauw / Indiana University


Meehan Lenzen (BHSN); Notre Dame
Kristen Miller (BHSS); Indiana University


David Kim (BHSN); Notre Dame
Jenna Beasley (BHSN); Indiana University


Manisha Patel (BHSN); Indiana University
Jesse Pontius (BHSN); Purdue University


Ryan Hodge (Indiana Academy); Rose-Hulman
Isaac (Ike) Dolby (BHSN); Purdue
Jennifer (Laird) Black (BHSS); Butler
Tara Langvardt (Edgewood); DePauw University
Caitlin (Odya) Homenda (Edgewood); Indiana University
Mark Strother (BHSN); Indiana University


Amber (Knowlton) Todd (BHSS); Indiana University
David Courtney (BHSS); Earlham
Jennifer Richardson (BHSN); Indiana University
Robert (Matt) Hawkins (Edgewood); Rose-Hulman
Abram Hess (Indiana Academy); Indiana University
Anand Patel (BHSN); Indiana University


Theodore (Tio) Savich (BHSN); Earlham
Aliese Sarkissian (BHSN); DePauw University
Virginia Chappell (BHSS); Indiana University
Michael Kruszynski (Indiana Academy); Rose-Hulman
James Moynihan (Edgewood); Butler
Andrea (Stalcup) Wallace (Edgewood); University of Evansville


Lindsay Kile (Edgewood); Purdue
Ruthie (Willsey) Sterrett (BHSS); Purdue
Ann Marshall (BHSN); Indiana University
Elizabeth Sloan (BHSN); Indiana University
Reed Carmichael (BHSN); DePauw University
Talialin Fehrenbach (BHSS); Butler


Andrew Krebbs (Edgewood); Indiana University
Michael Goodman (BHSN); Indiana University
Alison O’Malley (Edgewood); Butler
Morgan Volrich Riggs (BHSN); Indiana University


Kathleen Tran (BHSS); Indiana University
Aaron Ray (Edgewood); Indiana University
Amanda Horvath (BHSS); Notre Dame
Nathan Fuller (BHSN); Rose-Hulman


Amber (Martindale) Yount (BHSS); Butler
Rebecca (Strain) Spriggs (Edgewood); University of Evansville

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted $30 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $32 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.