The Hills Bank and Trust Company Leadership Grant is awarded to as many as 20 high school students each year. The recipients, who apply during their junior year in high school, attend nine hours of leadership training sponsored by Hills Bank and Trust Company during their senior year. They receive $1,000 for the fall semester of their first year of college. The scholarship may be used at any of Iowa’s accredited universities, colleges, or community colleges. Learn about one 2010 Leadership Grant recipient, Bethany Welsh, and how the leadership training sponsored by Hills Bank helped prepare her for her college career.
“Four years ago I was very unsure about what my future would hold. I did not have a definite plan going into college, but initially thought I wanted to major in Pharmacy. During my senior year of high school, I received the exciting news I was selected to be one of the 2010 Hills Bank Leadership Grant recipients. Our first meeting was held in the fall of 2009 with introductions of all of the other grant recipients. We learned about leadership and developed our own definitions of leadership. By January 2010, we were focusing on taking initiative in the community through activities I participated in. I stayed in touch with the friends gained through the Leadership Grant. By the time our final meeting rolled around, which was in April of 2010, all of the recipients felt that they had gained friendships, a better understanding of leadership, and better preparation for our first year of college. To this day, I still am in contact with other Leadership Grant recipients.
As I started my degree at the University of Iowa, I quickly learned how small this world really is. After moving into my dorm, I walked around my floor to get to know the other students and hopefully make new friends. I was pleasantly surprised when I bumped into Emily, one of the friends I made during the Hills Bank Leadership Grant. Emily was one of my biggest supporters when I founded the first ever University of Iowa Collegiate 4-H program – something the Leadership Grant gave me the drive and motivation to create.
As my time at the University of Iowa progressed, I began to understand Pharmacy was not the path for me. I needed a major where I could use my leadership and communication skills to the best of my ability. Knowing this, I decided to change my major to Business Management. As I participated in my business classes, I was able to reflect and realize this was the right fit for me.
I was asked to come back to the Leadership Grant reception in April to share my college experiences and help the new Hills Bank Leadership Grant recipients grasp the opportunities they can take advantage of when starting college. Throughout my time at the University, I created an organization, studied abroad in Ireland, held four internships, volunteered in community service, and gave leadership through the Civic Ambassador program – a program sponsored through the Provost’s office. By taking part in the Hills Bank Leadership Grant program, I was able to better prepare for college but also learn the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity given. The Leadership Grant gave me a drive to do better in my community and motivation to help people.
I will graduate in December 2014 with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management from the Tippie College of Business with a Certificate in Leadership Studies. Throughout my college years, Hills Bank played a major role in my success. Not only did they provide a great foundation for going into college with the Leadership Grant, but they provided me with helpful and friendly service as a customer. I have also had an amazing opportunity to be the Commercial Assistant Intern in the summer of 2014. The hands-on experience they have allowed me to take advantage of has been so beneficial. I am able to see how Hills Bank “serves thousands of customers… one at a time.”
Hills Bank has helped me come full circle in my college career, professional career, and also in life. I would encourage any high school student to apply for the Hills Bank Leadership Grant. It provided me with financial support, gave me the opportunity to meet new people, taught me how to use leadership in my life, and gave me motivation for my important first year of college that is my foundation for my future.”