Center for Creative Solutions, Inc.® Announces A. K. Smith Career Center
Scholarships and Student Innovation Awards during World Creativity and Innovation Week
Keeping with tradition, the Center for Creative Solutions ushered in World Creativity and Innovation Week by honoring innovative students at the A. K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City. Last week, 15 students were recognized for their creative projects and products, academic performance, and ‘can do’ attitudes.
“When we joined this international celebration 15 years ago, we wanted to highlight the places in our community where creativity was alive and well. The A. K. Smith Career Center was the perfect place to kick off the week,” explained Bill Halliar, board member and chairperson for Northwest Indiana’s celebration of World Creativity & Innovation Week, starting April 15.

Tej Ram Gupta scholarships went to Alysa De Felice, Dylan Rogers and Karmar Scully, students at the A. K. Smith Career Center. Each year, the scholarships for innovative students are funded by the B. R. Foundation, through the generosity of Dr. Rakish and Bina Gupta of Michigan City, in conjunction with the Center for Creative Solutions. The scholarships are named after Mrs. Gupta’s father, Tej Ram Gupta, a man dedicated to education.

Supervising teacher, Melissa Santana, nominated De Felice, a student intern at the South Central Junior/Senior High School. “Alysa demonstrates creative ways of reaching students who at times struggle with concepts in history. She tries to bring real world situations in to make the concept more relatable to junior high students…she will make a terrific history teacher one day,” Santana said.

From New Prairie High School, Dylan Rogers was nominated by Elizabeth Tylisz, his welding instructor. “He continues to work hard, help others and exceeds my expectations,” she noted.
The third scholarship winner, Kamar Scully, hails from Michigan City High School. Teacher, Alicia Young, wrote of her nominee, “Kamar is an exceptional early graduate. He has been directly accepted into the Valparaiso University nursing program.” In addition, he is active in the school’s Drama Club and this year plays a role in the play, “You Can’t Take It with You.”
Presenting the scholarship winners was Keri Marrs Barrón, creativity consultant and board member of the Center for Creative Solutions. She encouraged the students to continue their creative journeys by believing in themselves, having the courage to explore new ideas, working with a mentor, being curious about the world, and dreaming big.
In addition, Pat Lain, Board President of the Center for Creative Solutions, presented Student Innovation Awards. These awards were funded through the Morgan Family Foundation.
The first recipient was Robert Lanchsweerdt, a senior nominated by his automotive teacher, Steve Barnes. To finance a class race car project, Barnes recalled, “we needed money, so Rob designed a logo that we put on hoodies to sell to students and staff.” They were surprised at the amount of money raised. “Rob’s eye light up at the chance to do anything ‘outside the box.’”
Lain congratulated Alex Easley, Emily Richardson, Lillian Lindsey, Arianna Gilroy, Anastasia Timm, Dion Smith, Emmanuel Johnson, Chase McMillon, Joanna Ringstad, Georgia Pumroy and Savannah Fowler for their collaborative and innovative work. According to culinary teacher, Mary Koselke, the construction students built “trees” for culinary students to display their creations for the annual “Cupcake Wars” at the A. K. Smith Career Center. In honor of the student teams, Lain presented a donation to Koselke for future culinary and construction projects.

Sponsors for Northwest Indiana’s World Creativity and Innovation Week were WIMS Radio, the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, and the Center for Creative Solutions. Community partners included the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Michigan City Public Library, La Porte County Public Library, The Nest, and the A. K. Smith Career Center.

The Center for Creative Solutions is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging an innovative culture in Northwest Indiana through creativity events and workshops. “We’re dedicated to all forms of creativity expressed everyday by everyday people,” said Cynthia Hedge, the Center’s founder and CEO.
For more information, go to the, send an email to or telephone 219-326-7259.
PHOTO: Jason Williams, Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, guest speaker at the Community Kick-off Breakfast at A. K. Smith Career Center