Southport senior wins scholarship
Southport High School senior Victoria A. “Tori” Updike stared down the face of adversity for years, blinking only occasionally before conquering it.
It was that tenacious attitude in dealing with the mental illness of her father and his subsequent suicide that helped her earn the second-place, $12,000 scholarship at the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis’ annual Abe Lincoln Awards luncheon Feb. 12 at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel. The program celebrates students who have overcome adversity while achieving success.
Watching her parents divorce wasn’t easy for Updike, who witnessed some nasty altercations between her parents and was 15 when her dad took his life. She coped with it quietly and didn’t tell her friends at school what happened.
Updike forged ahead and tried not to dwell on the past while bonding closer with younger sister Raewyn, now 15 and a freshman at Southport. “Nobody but my sister really understood what I was going through.”
Updike submitted an essay to be considered as the school’s nominee, and the selection committee deemed her a most worthy candidate.
“I didn’t know that I had won second place until I heard my name called,” said Updike. “I just looked at my mom (Rebecca Updike), and we stared at each other with wide-open mouths. We were both surprised. I don’t do well getting up in front of crowds, so it was a nervous situation for me. But since we (the candidates) were all there for the same reason, it was a supportive environment.”
Even though it was nerve-racking for Updike, it wasn’t so unpleasant that she didn’t enjoy her lunch. “It was a really nice luncheon,” she said, “and Raewyn gave me a big hug when I told her I finished second.”
The winner of the first-place, $16,000 scholarship went to Hayley Faucett from Broad Ripple Magnet; Ashley McWhirter from Indiana School for the Blind received $8,000; and Madisan Johnson from Speedway won a $5,000 scholarship. Recipients of $250 grants included Yulia Grace Cleek from Franklin Central, Rebecca M. Goodman, Beech Grove; Madison K. Messenger, Perry Meridian; and Zachary J. Smith, Roncalli.
While the Kiwanians award their scholarships more for perseverance than academic excellence, Updike is no slouch when it comes to her studies. She has been on the A honor roll all seven semesters, boasts a 4.5 grade point average and is the salutatorian of her class.
Updike, who considers herself a student leader, is involved in many extracurricular activities. She is the managing editor of the school newspaper and writes a column, “Becoming Victorious,” for each issue. One of her columns covered the importance of voting and being politically active. She is also president of the school’s dance-a-thon, which benefits Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
And would you believe she’s a part-time clerical assistant for Dyer Chiropractic Clinic.
“I love doing a variety of things,” she said.
As for the future, Updike plans to study biology and genetics, probably at either Indiana or Purdue universities. She also wants to help others, and she got a good start on that last year by helping to raise $23,000 through the dance-a-thon. “I was really proud of that.”
It looks like the sky is the limit for Updike, who offers the following advice to those who might fall on hard times: “The only person holding you back is yourself.”