Marion student's scholarship is an 'answered prayer'
Marion senior Drew Helmer chose Wichita State University as her college more than a year ago, but had no idea how she was going to pay for college.
That question was answered Thursday, when she was awarded a 4-year, $85,000 scholarship to attend Wichita State University by the Rudd Foundation.
Drew’s mother, Kim, found out the night before, and said she had a difficult time keeping the secret.
“I came to my parents crying because it was so many answered prayers,” Kim said.
Drew said she was shocked to receive the award.
“I was applying for anything and everything,” she said. “Earlier in the semester, I applied for a lot and I was getting the rejection letters. I was like, ‘O.K., at least I tried.’ ”
Getting a call for an interview was a surprise, Drew said.
“I shocked by it because I completely forgot,” she said. “It was an unknown number and we were eating supper, so I was just going to let it ring.”
Wichita State University Admissions Office was who suggested applying for the Rudd Scholarship, Drew said.
The Rudd Scholarship has given full scholarships to a selection of students attending Wichita State, Fort Hays State University, or Emporia State University for two years now. The Rudd foundation, started by now-deceased Leslie Rudd, awarded 28 scholarships in 2019.
To qualify, entrants must be Kansas residents eligible for in-state tuition, graduating high school in 2019 with an unweighted high school average of at least 3.0, and financially eligible for the Pell Grant. Of those, who also must be enrolling full-time for the fall semester, 50 are chosen for in-person interviews.
The family knew Drew had done well in the interview, but didn’t expect her to win, Kim said.
“Drew said that’s why she interviewed so well, the pressure was off,” Kim said.
The coding class she took through Butler Community College convinced Drew she had the right interest, but she said she enjoyed working with computers even at a young age.
“I’ve had a love for computers since a young age,” she said. “Even when I was little, I’d work with them for Grandma and Grandpa.”
Because Drew had already chosen her college, it was easier to find specific scholarships, Marion High School principal Travis Rogers said.
“I remember talking to her last fall and she said, ‘I’m going to Wichita State,’ ” he said. “She knew before her senior year.”
The Helmers aren’t the only ones affected by the scholarship. Drew’s award lets other students at Marion High School know that they, too, should apply for scholarships, Rogers said.
“She doesn’t know it yet, but she will be talked about for several years because of what she did,” he said. “I imagine next year we’ll have some current juniors put in the application just because of what happened with Drew.”
Last modified April 25, 2019