A Marion High School senior and her mentor were awarded Project Leadership’s highest honors Thursday evening at the annual Red Rubber Ball Celebration at Taylor University. The event, in its 12th year, recognized a year of achievements for participants in Project Leadership’s programming, which assists students in their career and college pathways.

Emilee Sheron, a Marion High School senior, received the 2019 Grant County Mentee of the Year award. Sheron plans to attend Huntington University to major in nursing.
“It’s been an absolute joy to watch (Emilee) grow into the confident young lady that she is today,” said Sheron’s mentor,

Rachel Elwood, who has been matched with Sheron for the past three years and introduced her mentee at the banquet. “Emilee is a hard worker, self-motivated, and truly cares about other people . . , Her drive to excel and her kindness towards others will serve her well in her studies and future career.”
Elwood, who has volunteered as a mentor with Project Leadership for eight years, received the 2019 Grant County Mentor of the Year award.

Sheron introduced Elwood as she received the award and explained the impact her mentor has made on her life. “She uses real life situations and experiences to help guide and direct me,” Sheron said. “She is constantly making sure that my school life and personal life are both filled with joy and laughter. She brings a light into your life that just can’t be explained but is truly wonderful and makes everything so much brighter.”

Elwood also served as a mentor for Jaimee Maddox, a Marion High School graduate who is finishing her master’s degree this spring. Maddox sent a surprise video message for Elwood that was played at the banquet.

“Whenever I was unsure of how to take the next step to get to where I wanted to go, Rachel helped me identify resources and create an action plan,” Maddox said. “She has been a tremendous supporter in my life and has been a great resource.”

The winner of the 2019 Project Leadership Encourager award was Caleb Beasley, PBIS Program Supervisor with Muncie Community Schools, who played a key role in bringing together eight school districts in Delaware County to form the Delaware County Comprehensive Counseling Coalition.

Also presented Tuesday were the 2019 Delaware County Mentor of the Year award to Sarah Vitale and the 2019 Delaware County Mentee of the Year award to Katelyn Webster, a Monroe Central High School senior.

The Red Rubber Ball is a metaphor for your passion in life — what inspires you to chase your dreams every day — and is based on a series of inspirational books written by Kevin Carroll. The annual Red Rubber Ball celebration in the Hodson Dining Commons at Taylor brought together mentors, mentees and their families to reflect on mentoring program achievements during the 2018-2019 school year. Both high school and college students spoke at the banquet about their educational journeys.

The Project Leadership mentoring program began in Grant County in 2007 and expanded to Delaware County in 2010. The program is for high school students who are 21st Century Scholars. The Scholars program promises four years of free college tuition to low-income students who pledge to graduate from high school, achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, agree not to use illegal drugs or alcohol or commit a crime, complete the Indiana Scholar Success Program requirements, and apply to an eligible Indiana college or technical school. Project Leadership mentoring matches meet weekly. Mentors provide guidance for students to help them stay on track as they navigate their way through high school and to post-secondary settings.