Sophomore Camryn Barnett awarded Realizing the Dream scholarship for outstanding first-generation students

Author: Erin Blasko

Camryn Barnett Feature

University of Notre Dame sophomore Camryn Barnett is one of 30 first-generation students awarded a 2021 Realizing the Dream scholarship by 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.

Barnett is a biology and English double major from Noblesville, Indiana. She is a student athletic trainer and a commissioner with the Farley Hall Council, where she assists with graphic design.

In an acceptance video produced by the ICI and posted to its website, Barnett said, “Being a first-generation college student is important to me because it gives me something to be immensely proud of. Not only am I proud of myself for making it this far in my education, but I’m also so proud of my parents, and for all of the hard work that they’ve done to provide a good life and the opportunity to go to college for their children. Having them as an example of what true hard work looks like has made all the difference in getting me where I am today.”

About the award itself, she said, “This scholarship will help me achieve my collegiate goals because it acts as a validation that my many hours studying at the library, or all my hard work put into my classes, has not gone unnoticed. With this scholarship and the encouragement it provides, I will be able to further my college education and get one step closer to graduation.”

Barnett nominated Jason Giordano, her former math teacher at Noblesville High School, as the secondary teacher who most influenced her decision to attend college.

“Mr. Giordano is a kind and impactful teacher who truly cares about his students,” she said. “He watched me grow and he impacted me along the way. It’s because of teachers like Mr. Giordano who show true dedication to their students that first-generation students like me feel encouraged and equipped to go further in their education.”

Founded in 1948, the ICI is the collective voice of Indiana’s 30 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. Among other things, 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 Realizing the Dream program. “Especially during these challenging times, these scholarship awards will provide critical support for these young people who are dreaming of future success.”

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on March 26, 2021.