Lilly Scholar Returned to Improve Community

Lilly Scholar Returned to Improve Our Community

Some people worry that Elkhart County spreads the seeds of its best and brightest to the winds. But plenty of those seeds take root right here. Consider Melinda “Mindy” Park. As Fairfield senior Mindy Whitehead, she had aspirations to become a teacher and felt a tug to go out of town. Her parents hadn’t gone to college, and the New Paris farm family didn’t have the means to make her dream of on-campus living a reality.

But in 2002, the Community Foundation of Elkhart County awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Elkhart County to Melinda, and that changed not only her prospects, but the children of our community.

“It was an awesome gift,” she said. She was stunned when she realized the scholarship would allow her to branch out on her own, to have a residential college experience and get an education at Indiana Wesleyan University, which offers a top-notch program for aspiring teachers.

She’s now Mrs. Park, a second-grade teacher at West Goshen Elementary School, educating children in the heart of Elkhart County. Mindy’s contributions to the community come in many forms, but at the core it’s about giving back.