The Herbert Presidential Scholars (HPS) program offers what is considered one of the most prestigious scholarships at Indiana University. The annual banquet provides an opportunity to invite IU students, faculty, and staff to join in celebrating the newest class of Herbert Presidential Scholars and formally welcome them into the Herbert and IU family. Traditionally held in person, the banquet was virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Herbert Presidential Scholars program and our campus partners have the immense honor of welcoming the best and brightest Hoosier scholars to our campuses each year. The program provides these talented students with generous funding that allows them to focus on their studies and take advantage of opportunities to launch and advance their academic and professional careers," Julia Jennings, director of Community & School Partnerships, said.
In a show of support and encouragement, the program created a virtual celebration featuring Indiana University President McRobbie, Provost Robel, and each IU campus chancellor sharing words of congratulations and advice to the scholars. Additionally, individuals can meet the 2020 scholars and read greetings and felicitations from other IU faculty and staff on a recently created web event page.
"The banquet is not only a time to honor the freshman class members individually and collectively, but also an occasion for scholars to meet their peers and campus leadership across the IU system," Jennings said. "This year, more than ever before, we recognized the importance of honoring the Herbert Presidential Scholar Class of 2020 and the unique beginnings of their academic careers. We look forward to creating opportunities for all current scholars to engage with our program and each other to create a full and impactful IU experience."
Despite some reservations about entering college during a pandemic, the program has provided the inaugural freshman class with an excellent support system and sense of pride that has carried them through the semester.
"Being a Herbert President Scholar has been the realization of all of my hard work academically leading up to college," Collin Rassel, a freshman at IU Bloomington, said. "Like many other scholars, I sacrificed a lot to achieve the academic success that I have experienced, and being honored as a Herbert Presidential Scholar has really made me feel like my efforts are recognized and my sacrifices weren’t all for naught. I plan to continue working hard academically and socially to uphold the core values of the Herbert Presidential Scholars."
"When I was offered the chance to become a Herbert Presidential Scholar, I knew I couldn't turn it down," said IUPUI freshman Michaela Di Palmo. "Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, I knew that the IUPUI Honors College was going to be my home for the next four years. When August came around, and Covid-19 was creeping up on its second surge, I was nervous. All of my classes, except one, were scheduled to meet online. This wasn't how I had hoped my first semester of college would be, but I knew it was the best decision regarding our health and safety. I was scared I wouldn't make a whole lot of friends. However, with being a Herbert Presidential Scholar, I was given opportunities to meet new people through the Honors College. Through the HPS program, I have also been able to continue my passion for helping others and volunteering through virtual opportunities. Although this year hasn't been what I had hoped for due to Covid-19, I have gained new friends, experiences, motivation, passion, and ultimately gratefulness for everything around me, including the HPS program."
“Being a Herbert Presidential Scholar motivates me to do better,” Emily Haase-Flores from IU Bloomington said. “The scholarship that comes along with this designation has enabled me to worry less about paying for my education, meaning that I can feel free to pursue areas of interest at university without fear of all the financial costs associated with this pursuit. In a year that has been different and at times difficult, due to both the pandemic and questioning what path I would like to take in the future, the weight that the scholarship has taken off of my shoulders has provided relief and helped ease my transition to being at IU."