Scholarly achievement: Zionsville Community High School graduate part of inaugural Lilly program at Purdue


Zionsville Community High School 2023 graduate Lucy Gregory earned the honor of magna cum laude and is part of the inaugural Lilly Scholars at Purdue Program.

With her dedication to academic excellence, coupled with a love for science and mathematics, Gregory said her journey at ZCHS laid a solid foundation for her future endeavors in the field of interdisciplinary engineering.

Gregory earned magna cum laude honors by ranking academically among the top 30 students of her graduating class with a 4.33 grade point average on a weighted 4.0 scale.

Moreover, Gregory, 18, is part of the new Lilly Scholars at Purdue Program. She will attend Purdue University and major in engineering on a Lilly Scholars at Purdue Program scholarship, which covers full tuition and comes with an internship or co-op opportunity at Eli Lilly during her sophomore year in college.

Preference for selection to the Lilly Scholars at Purdue Program is for undergraduate students who are underrepresented in Purdue’s student population, according to Purdue.

“I feel very fortunate to have received this scholarship and I’m excited to be challenged academically and grow as a person,” Gregory said.

Gregory said she looks forward to embracing new challenges as she attends Purdue University this fall.

“I’m excited to explore unfamiliar territory,” she said. “As a kid, I always loved to understand how things work and why something is a certain way.”

As part of the inaugural program, Gregory joins a cohort of 75 students at Purdue.

Throughout her high school years, Gregory said she embraced the challenges of rigorous coursework, understanding that every project and class offered an opportunity for growth.

“School has always been important to me, and I knew going into high school was going to be a big change from middle school,” Gregory said. “I knew I needed to put my best effort into every project and class that I did.”

Driven by her passion for problem-solving, Gregory said she was drawn to math and science classes, where she thrived on unraveling complex equations and discovering solutions.

“I knew to end up in engineering, I needed to stick with the STEM side of things,” she said.

Her commitment to the STEM disciplines led her to connect with like-minded individuals, creating a close-knit community of driven students.

“Being part of STEM allowed me to become close with some of the smartest kids in my class, which has been a unique experience because I was able to learn from a variety of students,” Gregory said.

Growing up in the Village of downtown Zionsville in a single-parent home, Gregory attributes her success to the support of her mom, the community and ZCHS.

“Growing up in the Village offered so much support through my neighbors, friends and a community that actually cares about one another,” she said.

“Raising Lucy and her brother has been a challenge and an utter delight,” Lucy’s mom, Christy Gregory said. “It was made easier by our community and the amazing Zionsville schools.”

ZCHS student Lucy Gregory, right, with ZCHS math teacher Sarah Essick at Gregory’s graduation party. (Photo courtesy of ZCHS)

Gregory credits ZCHS math teacher Sarah Essick for inspiring her to pursue an engineering major.

“Lucy is a vibrant and vivacious young lady,” Essick said. “Her maturity level seems higher than the average 18-year-old and her personality and leadership skills have served as a model for younger students.”

Gregory’s accomplishments extend beyond the classroom, as she has participated in various extracurricular activities like dance and organizing clubs.

“I organized the Junior Optimist Club, which is a volunteer organization, and we offered swim lessons for children with disabilities,” Gregory said. “That was a rewarding experience.”

As for advice for incoming freshmen, Gregory said a focus on STEM classes could help students excel.

“I took several AP classes,” she said. “Being advanced in math is important too. For scholarships, I would say to do things that strengthen you as a person and do what you can to get involved in your community.”

CIZ COV 0606 Junior group
Lucy Gregory, left, in the pool, gives one of the swim lessons as part of the Junior Optimist Group. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Gregory)

Getting to know Lucy Gregory

If you could describe your high school experience in one movie title, what would it be?

“Fast and Furious.”

What was the most unexpected skill or talent you discovered during your high school years?

I am quite good at headstands.

If you could create a new subject or class for your high school, what would it be and why?

I would create a film class dedicated to watching and studying the most classic movies.

If you could organize a school-wide prank without consequences, what would it be?

Release three pigs into the school and label them 1, 2 and 4 so the administration would think couldn’t find pig No. 3.

If you could have had a theme song playing every time you entered a classroom, what would it be?

The “Cotton Eyed Joe”

What was the most memorable dress-up or costume you wore for a school event or spirit day?

I wore baggy gym shorts and my brother’s T-shirt for Adam Sandler’s day and my head was shaved.