In the News

First-generation college student award-winner at Manchester realizes her dream in STEM field

Heather BinionManchester University’s 2020 Realizing the Dream recipient is Heather Binion, a sophomore with a double major in chemistry and engineering science. She is the first in her family to attend college.

Binion wants to be a good role model for her younger relatives and works hard to demonstrate that women are capable of anything they put their minds to, including being in a STEM field. STEM, of course, stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Binion has wanted to be an engineer since she was 11 years old and learned how much she enjoyed chemistry from her high school chemistry class back in Lebanon, Ind.

The Realizing the Dream scholarship is provided for 30 first-generation college students from Indiana’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities by the Independent Colleges of Indiana. It is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. They were chosen by their colleges for outstanding achievement in their first year. 

Binion ranked second in her high school class at Lebanon Senior High School. At Manchester, she has a 4.0 GPA and is involved in the American Chemical Society, Society of Physics Students and Advocates of the Mind.

She works as a Spartan Ambassador, giving tours to prospective Manchester students, and she is a physics peer tutor. Her volunteer service includes the annual Walk Into My Future event at MU that introduces elementary school students to the college environment, donating blood and helping with the U Can Crush Hunger campaign for the region’s food pantries.

After Manchester, she plans to finish her engineering degree at an engineering school and then attend graduate school.

Binion loves college and appreciates her education. “Every day in college makes me mature, teaches me life skills, and will one day help me fully transition into adult life,” she said. “I am grateful for this opportunity, and I will continue to work hard to make myself, my friends, and my family proud.”

Each honored student in Realizing the Dream received $3,000 to help with college costs, and each student’s selected “most influential” teacher received a $1,000 professional development grant. Binion selected Alan Conrad from Lebanon Middle School.

For the media

If you would like to interview Heather, please contact Anne Gregory at

More about the sciences at Manchester

Press release prepared by Jennifer Wagner, student assistant in the Office of Strategic Communications.

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., provides vibrant and transformative student experiences. Learn more at

Our mission: Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.

December 2020