Sophomore Gavin Ealey awarded Realizing the Dream Scholarship for first-generation students

Author: Erin Blasko

Gavin Ealey
Gavin Ealey

University of Notre Dame sophomore Gavin Ealey is one of 30 first-generation students to receive a 2021-22 Realizing the Dream scholarship from the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).

Established with a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Realizing the Dream Scholarship recognizes one first-generation student annually from each of the 30 ICI schools for outstanding achievement as a first-year student.

Winners receive a $3,000 scholarship, plus the opportunity to name a secondary teacher who most influenced their decision to attend college. The nominated teacher receives a $1,000 professional development grant.

Ealey is a chemistry major and French minor from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a research assistant in the Kamat Research Lab, secretary of the Fighting Irish Science Olympiad and a certified EMT. He hopes to attend medical school after graduation.

Ealey thanked his parents and Notre Dame in an acceptance video produced by ICI and posted to its website.

“This (scholarship) is incredibly meaningful to me, and it is incredibly important to me,” he said. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”

He nominated Alicia Baumgartner, his former chemistry teacher at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, as the secondary teacher who most influenced his decision to attend college.

“She was incredible,” he said of Baumgartner. “She’s the reason I’m a chemistry major now. She’s the reason I’m on the path I am now.”

Founded in 1948, the ICI is the collective voice of Indiana’s 30 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. It engages in public policy advocacy and public information and research about the importance of the independent college sector in Indiana, raises money for member institutions and administers scholarship and grant programs.

David Wantz is president and CEO of the organization.

“Thanks to the continued support of Lilly Endowment, we get the opportunity to hear the inspiring stories of these first-generation students and the impact local educators have had on their drive to succeed academically,” Wantz said of the ongoing importance of the scholarship program. “These scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”