As winner of this year’s Next Indiana scholarship, Owen Baxter has a $1,500 head start on his college expenses. He learned about the scholarship through a link posted by his high school guidance counselor.
Owen will attend Purdue University in the fall of 2021 to study Chemical Engineering. “I plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in this field, which I will use to … improve the world by applying my fascination and knowledge in mathematics, science, physics, and, of course, engineering to innovate new materials and processes.”
Owen, a 2021 graduate of Shakamak Junior/Senior High School and one of six valedictorians at the school, says he spent his entire school career preparing for college, starting with a “high ability” program offered in elementary school and then taking every dual-credit and AP course he could find.
Owen played alto saxophone in the school band and participated in National Honor Society for two years. Outside of school he keeps busy playing basketball, fishing and (pre-COVID) going to concerts with friends.
He also volunteered for four years in his hometown’s haunted house, helping with construction and, during Halloween season, trying his hand at acting. He worked full time at Shakamak State Park during the spring/summer of 2020 and is working at a cinema in Linton, Indiana, to earn spending money before starting at Purdue.
“I feel extremely lucky to be the recipient of this scholarship, as well as the recognition that comes along with it. The scholarship will definitely help with the cost of my first year in college, which will ultimately help me focus more on my schoolwork and less on how much it costs.”Owen Baxter
Lindsay Mergy, 23
Hometown: Columbia City, Indiana
After high school: I picked Eleven Fifty Academy, a coding bootcamp, because I didn’t have enough experience to know for certain that I wanted to commit to coding as a career. I took the intro course to get started down that path.
Best Advice: The worst thing you can do in life is never try and never know ‘what if’ everything had turned out alright. The sooner you can try things and learn a lesson—even if the lesson is ‘wow I really don’t want to do that thing for a career’—the better!
Bonus: If there are any alternative options that get you where you want to go, even if they don’t come with a fancy title or piece of paper, that’s OK! What matters most is working hard until you decide you want to try something else. Then, work as hard as you can in that direction!