Culver Military Academy first classman Eamon Seeley of Lafayette, Indiana, has been awarded a Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship that pays for full tuition for four years.
Seeley, who will be Company B unit commander for the remainder of the school year, plans to use the scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame.
Seeley was one of three students from Tippecanoe County awarded a Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, which also pays for required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 a year for required books and equipment. The scholarships are only for students who plan to attend college in Indiana.
“These recipients represent some of the hardest-working and high-achieving students in our community. They are all academically gifted, involved in impressive extracurriculars, work and volunteering. It is an honor to support the academic future of these bright young students,” said David Lasater, president and CEO of The Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette.
Stephanie Hall, an associate director of college advising at Culver, said Seeley was an outstanding candidate for the scholarship with a 4.35 weighted GPA, his work in leadership and community service and a member of the swim team.
“He’s such a well-rounded young man and he has a servant’s heart,” Hall said. “He’s worked hard here. He’s earned it.”
Seeley has served as infantry battalion operations officer since August, working closely with the operations sergeants of companies A, B and C to make sure each unit is being trained properly, everyone is up to standard and that new cadets are being treated well and are adjusting to life at Culver.
Col. Michael Squires, Culver’s commandant of cadets, said that Seeley is intelligent and hard-working, but his greatest skillset is his leadership. Squires praised Seeley’s work last year as a squad leader overseeing the development of 12 cadets, where he instituted a preparation and evaluation plan “that led to his squad earning top marks over the eight other squads in his unit for 11 out of 12 weeks.
“The system Eamon developed continues to this day and is in operation across the entire battalion,” he said.
Seeley will be unit commander starting in January. He will oversee the day-to-day operations and morale of 52 CMA students, making sure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing. It’s a more high-profile position than his previous position as battalion operations officer.
Senior Chinese instructor Ning Schultz said what impressed her most about Seeley is that he is a passionate and persistent language learner.
“He works diligently towards his goal and is always willing to put extra effort to reach that goal. He clearly revealed his leadership, spirit and motivational qualities in Chinese language study - which represents Culver very well,” Schultz said.
Seeley said his favorite class at Culver was Chinese and he plans to continue to learn the language in college.
Seeley said he believes his leadership and community service opportunities at Culver were major factors in earning the scholarship.
“I think it sets you apart from other schools because not a lot of other high school students have the leadership opportunities that you have at Culver,” he said.
He serves on Culver’s Community Service Council, helping to organize students volunteering at the Culver Youth Club and working with Blessings in a Backpack, Culver Community Christmas Basket Inc. and other organizations. He also is a leader in Culver’s Catholic Youth Group, where he has helped plan, organize and lead nine food drives for the Culver Community Food Pantry.
He's also volunteered to help with the Special Olympics and volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club. He and his father and brothers also help serve Thanksgiving meals to the homeless in Tippecanoe County and they run 5ks to raise money for charity.
Seeley is undecided on a major, but said he is interested in working in government or foreign service.
“I want to study something that will help me be present in my community so I can give back since I don’t have to pay for college,” he said.
Some of Seeley’s classmates were present when he was informed he had been selected for the scholarship. Seeley was getting ready to leave his Advanced Placement calculus class when he was stopped by military mentor Mike Ottow, which was odd because military mentors aren’t usually in academic buildings unless a cadet is in trouble.
“Eamon Seely, what have you done?” Hall asked as she entered the classroom with Squires and others.
“I don’t know,” Seeley replied.
Dave Bonner, director of college advising, then handed Seeley a laptop connected to a Zoom call with members of the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette.
He was then told he was one of the 2024 Lilly Endowment Community scholars, and his classmates began clapping and cheering.
“Thank you so much,” Seeley said.
Seeley then went outside and called his parents to let them know.
“It was a cool moment,” he said.
Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program for the 1998-99 school year and has supported the program every year since with grants totaling more than $505 million. More than 5,200 Indiana students have received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship since the program’s inception.