Louisville Student Earns Her Way to Princeton

Dedicated to school, community service and family, Milan Eldridge packed her bags to begin her college career at Princeton University in the fall of 2016. With grand educational aspirations, Eldridge prepared herself for college in a number of ways. As a result of her drive and motivation, she was accepted to more than 10 of the nation’s top colleges, received over 20 awards for excellence in academia and leadership, earned a 4.625 GPA, participated as a 2015 Governor’s Scholar, volunteered in the community and earned titles as a National Merit Commended Student and an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction. Alongside, Eldridge’s academic accomplishments, she also involved herself in a variety of activities such as Key Club, field hockey, lacrosse, harp, piano, Chinese lessons, executive council, the Y-Club and a plethora of astronomy and math camp programs across the U.S.

All of Eldridge’s accomplishments helped her learn more about focus, determination, teamwork, leadership and volunteerism. “I believe there is always more to learn both inside and outside of the classroom,” Eldridge said. Continuing her education beyond the classroom, Eldridge dedicated herself to community service. Volunteering over 400 hours, throughout high school, with different tutoring programs in the city helped her see that simple actions mean the most to others. Sometimes younger people have a hard time seeing the value in their service and worry about the size of the impact they will make, but Eldridge said, “It is possible to make a difference in the world by focusing my attention on the people that are a part of my everyday life,” and that, “the greatest impact on a community can result from volunteering.”

Because of her achievements and commitment to service, Eldridge was awarded The Donald H. Balleisen Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donald H. Balleisen was a successful attorney and community leader. Most recognized for his generous, philanthropic heart, Balleisen was an active supporter of higher education and always worked to help academically gifted, but economically disadvantaged students obtain a college education and launch a career. Balleisen’s wife, Carolyn thus established the Memorial Scholarship Fund to ensure that her husband’s spirit and work continue to help students from Louisville, Kentucky attend his alma mater, Princeton University. Several of Balleisen’s friends and colleagues have decided to personally contribute and build the fund as a memorial to their mentor. The Community Foundation continues to see to that task.

Eldridge says she is greatly appreciative of the generous donation from the memorial fund. Overcoming adversity and growing up in a single-parent home, she worried about her mother paying for college. In the recent years, her mother has cared for and lost both parents and two brothers. In order to keep Eldridge involved in all of her activities, her mother fell behind on bills. Eldridge said her mother picked up another job, but she still worries about her working too much because of her heart condition. The scholarship has helped alleviate stress on her mother and has allowed her to pursue her dream of attending Princeton.

Ever since Eldridge was a little girl, she found herself captivated by the cosmos and said, “As a child…while my friends spent their nights watching sci-fi movies, I spent my nights glued to the telescope I barely knew how to use.” She plans to pursue this passion and major in astrophysics to learn about previous advancements and uncover concepts currently unknown to mankind. Beyond astrophysics, Eldridge plans to continue her commitment to service in the community and work on finding her identity through her new educational route – thanks to The Donald H. Balleisen Memorial Scholarship Fund.

In addition to the Balleisen Scholarship, Eldridge was awarded two other scholarships from the Community Foundation based on her academic achievements and commitment to service. She earned the M-H Tuggle Scholarship which was established by the descendants of Charles Tuggle, a slave freed in 1861, to assist a young African American student wishing to attend an institution of higher learning, and the Laura Lee Sipes Memorial Scholarship Fund which was established by Laura’s mother to honor her daughter’s passion for life.

The Community Foundation of Louisville will award over 80 scholarship funds, worth over $1.2 million for the 2017-2018 academic year.

For information on applying for a scholarship, visit https://www.cflouisville.org/scholarships/ or contact Ebony O’Rea. To find out more about how to set up a scholarship fund, contact Meredith Zahirovic.