Elley Adkins is Driven to Grow, Be a Role Model to First-Generation Students

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Elley Adkins

Elley Adkins, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, believes her college experience, and the scholarship, will help her learn more about how to use her skills to help other people.

When it came to navigating the college experience, Elley Adkins was very much on her own. As a first-generation student, Adkins had to learn how to apply for scholarships, complete financial aid applications and was not quite sure what to expect from academics. What she did know, however, was her determination to attend college and from her initial tour on campus, that Rose-Hulman would become her home for four years.

“When I first visited Rose, I didn’t know anyone during my tour,” said Adkins, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering. “But everyone was coming up to me to say hello and it felt like home immediately.”

Adkins is learning as a Rose student to take risks and explore every opportunity afforded to her. “Rose pushes people to do their best in every aspect, and that has forced me to take advantage of opportunities. … If you don’t put yourself out there, you can’t grow.” 

That idea was the impetus to apply for—and receive—a $4,000 Realizing the Dream scholarship. The scholarship is offered to first-generation Indiana college students by Independent Colleges of Indiana, through Lilly Endowment Inc. support. Students were selected based on their outstanding achievement during the first year at their colleges or universities. 

Adkins hopes the scholarship will help her, as a first-generation student, feel more seen and heard. Receiving it has also shown her how much Rose, as well as Independent Colleges of Indiana, cares about first-generation student success. But perhaps even more meaningful to Adkins is that it will allow her two younger brothers and older sister to see that going to college is possible for their lives. 

“I want my siblings to see and know that just because our parents didn’t go to college does not mean we can’t be successful in college,” she said. “I hope this scholarship and the recognition will help them think, ‘My sister can do it; I can do it, too.’”

Adkins believes her college experience, and the scholarship, will help her learn more about how to use her skills to help other people. “I hope to be an inspiration to other first-generation college students and women in STEM who have doubts about themselves and their abilities,” said Adkins.

The Lafayette, Indiana, native was inspired to study environmental engineering in high school. Her initial interest started with a love of art, specifically nature and landscape scenes. While looking for inspirational landscape photos, Adkins came across several articles about environmental issues. From there, she was hooked. She continued to nurture her love of environmental studies by serving on the Science Olympiad environmental science team during her senior year. After graduating Rose, Adkins plans to either work as an environmental engineering consultant or become a professor in the field.

Outside the classroom, Adkins strives to make a positive impact on campus and enjoys being involved in various student organizations. She is an officer in her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, and is the social media chair for the Lilly Scholars Network. She also conducts Safe Zone trainings and attends Residential Hall Association events and meetings. According to Adkins, Rose has already given her endless opportunities to grow and learn.

“When I was a kid, I was always dreaming about the kind of person I wanted to be,” she said. “I feel like Rose has already brought me so much closer to being someone that little me would look up to and that’s a huge thing for me.”