Ever since she was a little girl, Salem High School senior Haylie Walker has dreamed of becoming a teacher. “I’ve always had a passion for working with kids,” she said. Thanks to being the recipient of the Lilly Scholarship, she is one step closer to making her career dream come true.
Walker found out last week that she had been selected as the 2023 Lilly Scholar recipient for Washington County.
“I was honestly in disbelief,” she said. “You always hear about the Lilly and work so hard to apply, but you never actually think you’ll be the one to receive it. My parents and I were ecstatic and there were definitely lots of emotions because we felt so blessed.”
Her parents, Bryan and Misty Walker, shared in their daughter’s excitement.
“We are so overwhelmed and grateful for this gift,” said Misty. “Haylie has always worked really hard at everything she does and has such a heart for others, so to have her receive this award means so much. We have always been very proud of her and know she’ll do great things with this opportunity.”
Walker’s plan is to go to Indiana University Southeast to study elementary education, with a minor in business. She said this scholarship opens even more doors for her. Her desire to study elementary education has only grown with her job as a caregiver at a local daycare and her involvement as an intern at the elementary school.
She said one of her main goals has been to get her education without being in debt after graduation. “This scholarship has eliminated all of those worries,” said Walker. “I can’t even explain how lucky I feel to have this honor. I am beyond excited to live out my ultimate career goal of teaching and shaping young minds.”
When asked why she thinks her application made her stand out from others, Walker said she thinks it is her dedication to all of her activities throughout high school.
“That definitely says a lot about my character,” she said. “I do my best to put 110% into everything I participate in whether it’s schoolwork, my job, or extracurriculars. I know it wouldn’t have been possible for me to receive this without the support from my family, friends, school staff and mentors!”
One of those school staff members who have supported her is the school librarian Lori Hazelip. Hazelip is also the student council sponsor.
“When I have a student like Haylie and start thinking during freshman year that I don't know what I'll do when she graduates, you know that they are deserving of any scholarship and especially the Lilly,” she said. “She is such a strong leader and student. She cares about others and is extremely motivated to be successful and help others be successful. I have no doubt that she'll be able to take all the great skills she has learned here and apply them for a successful college experience. Any school is going to be a better place for having Haylie there.”
This school year, she is president of Student Council and Tri-Hi-Y, co-president of Salem FFA and secretary of NHS.
“These organizations come with a lot of responsibility but I enjoy serving in different ways in each and every one,” said Walker. “Some of my other activities include French Club, Science Club, and Booster Club.”
When she isn’t in school, Walker continues to stay busy.
“Outside of school I spend a lot of time working a part-time job at Southern Hills Daycare,” she said. “I love the kiddos I get to be with and my co-workers are just the best. I’m also an eight-year member of 4-H showing sheep every year and actually have had my own small flock since 2017. This led me to my involvement in the Washington County Sheep Association. Going into high school, I became interested in the Washington County Youth Foundation and have now been a member for three years. Right now we are in full swing into our ‘Mini’s for Pennies’ project at the elementary school so it’s definitely a busy time, but it’s always fun!”
Walker said her advice to underclassmen would be to get involved early, to start joining clubs and finding out what you’re interested in and passionate about.
“Scholarship applications look for longevity and dedication to your involvement and I think that’s ultimately what shows your character,” she said.
Walker said she has had several great teachers who have influenced her over the years. “Nicole Motsinger was definitely influential in my decision, because I have always admired her teaching style,” she said. “In my high school years, I’ve pretty much been inseparable from Lori Hazelip and Stephanie Blue (you could ask anyone and they’d agree). I’ve grown very close to them and I can always count on them for encouragement and that is something I’m very grateful for.”
Walker said the first semester has already been a whirlwind and senior year seems to be flying by.
“In my last semester I’m excited to finish out the year strong with my friends and teachers,” she said. “Of course I’m excited for my future but it’s definitely bittersweet knowing that I’m entering my last few months at SHS."
SHS counselor Jennifer Martin said in the last nine years, a Salem High School senior has been the recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship seven times in Washington County.
Martin added that Walker is an “exceptional student, leader and all around person in a class full of equally outstanding individuals. I'm sure the committee had a difficult time making their choice. She leads by positive example and always is upbeat and willing to help whenever needed. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be an excellent teacher and I am so proud of her.”
According to the Lilly Endowment Website, the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program is administered by the Independent Colleges of Indiana and includes significant participation by the community foundations serving each of Indiana’s 92 counties.
Key elements include: Full-tuition, required fees and book stipend for four years. Recipients may attend any public or private, Indiana four-year college or university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Applicants must have a high school diploma from an Indiana high school accredited by the State Board of Education or by a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the State Board of Education. Applicants must be residents of the state of Indiana. Selection criteria, selection procedures and application due dates vary by county. Recipients must pursue undergraduate study in a baccalaureate program on a full-time basis. One hundred and forty-three scholarships are awarded annually.