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Morristown salutatorian earned full ride to Marian


The Morristown High School salutatorian was “kicked out” of Starbucks four times while writing a paper for her college-level English course.

Lillian Thompson started writing her English essays at Starbucks her senior year because it helped her focus better. Most of the time, she would drink a chai tea latte with almond milk.

She felt like essays she wrote at Starbucks received better grades than essays she wrote somewhere else. So she often stayed until the restaurant closed at 10 p.m., resulting in the employees asking her to go home for the night.

And this happened four times while she was working on her “second major paper” of the spring semester.

The essay focused on how people should respond to marginalized groups in society, a topic Thompson said she really cared about.

“It was a challenge for me to express something that I care about, and to back it up with all the evidence, and to do it justice, and say what I believed,” she said.

Thompson received an “A” on the paper.

She said she cared so much about how to treat marginalized groups because her whole outlook on life is to help create a better world and treat people with compassion.

“It really bothers me to see people treated so poorly,” she said.

This passion for helping people played a big factor in her career choice.

“I’ve always known I wanted to do a helping profession,” she said.

Thompson’s English course was dual credit through Indiana University, but she’s transferring the credits to Marian University, where she plans to major in Biology. Her end goal is to become a physician and attend Medical Missions – going overseas to provide health care and treatment to countries that don’t have access.

Why she chose biology and to go to Marian both came from when she attended “Camp Cardiac” for a week during summer 2017. It was the first time she visited Marian.

“After that, it was just like a switch was flipped and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said.

There were some other factors in her choosing Marian too, she said.

“It’s right in the middle of (Indianapolis), and I love that about it, but it’s also kind of secluded, which is cool,” she said. “It’s kind of like, in its own little pocket, but it’s still five minutes from downtown.”

She also likes the small-town feel Marian has to offer.

“Everyone there, from the staff all the way down to the students, is really genuine about caring for the students and the newcomers,” she said. “You just feel that every time you are there, and that is probably my favorite thing about it.”

But the academic full ride Marian offered her was the number one factor, she said.

Thompson “competed” for the Saint Mary’s Academic Scholarship by spending a day at Marian, turning in her resume and going through an interview process with faculty members.

“I was so nervous,” she said. “My hands were shaky, and sweaty, and clammy. I thought there was no way that out of all these people, I was going to get anything. But once I got in there with the faculty that interviewed me, they just kind of completely put me at ease. It’s that Marian feel … they really care about what I’m saying.”

She interviewed for the scholarship in November and found out less than a month later she received the scholarship.

“They came to my school during lunch, and my advisor – that had been helping me all along the way – just showed up in my lunchroom, and I was like ‘What’s going on?’” she said. “I didn’t even get it at first, I just thought maybe it was just like a Marian information session. I was like, ‘This is an odd time to do that.’ But then they started talking and announced I had been chosen for the full ride.”

She said she was so overwhelmed that she cried.

“It was like a weight off my shoulders,” she said.

In addition to majoring in biology, Thompson will minor in global studies, a decision she made based on the positive experience she had in Greece and Italy last summer.

“I always wanted to see the world,” she said.

She went to Europe through a company called Travel for Teens. The trip was two weeks long. She and another friend from Morristown High School spent the first week in Greece and the second week in Italy.

“I’ve never seen things like that,” she said. “I loved meeting all the different types of people, listening to them talk, trying different foods. I loved seeing their way of life. Everything is so different there.”

This $6,000 trip wasn’t just a vacation for Thompson. She was able to give back to the communities she visited by volunteering.

In Greece, she spent some time on a farm, spraying trees with a non-chemical pesticide.

She also worked with an organization called “Smile of the Child,” which provides resources for orphans. While there, she helped put together school supply backpacks, organize a pantry and restore some of the crumbling walls of an orphanage.

“It was fullfilling,” she said. “I get to go over there and see all of the cool things about the place, and see all the beautiful beaches, and taste all the good food, and see everything that was so cool, but it was nice to also be able to give back to the place that I was seeing.”


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