‘Flabbergasted’: Students shocked by scholarship wins at this year’s College Scholarship Day


Mary McCord, a communication sciences and disorders senior, reacts after winning a one night stay at the castle in Versailles during the first day of Keeneland’s spring meet on Friday, April 6, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Keeneland’s opening day was also College Scholarship day, where students were given free admission and a chance to win a number of prizes including ten $1,000 and two $10,000 scholarships. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Rick Childress

Yellow silk flashed first across the dirt finish line during Keeneland’s third race on Friday, and at the same time a black dress and denim jacket dashed into the track’s North Terrace.

The wearer of that dress, Laura Grueneberg, a chemical engineering senior, bounded excitedly in to accept her giant plastic check for $10,000.

“My heart literally just dropped down to my stomach, and I was like ‘no way,’” Grueneberg said of the moment she was notified that she’d won one of the two $10,000 scholarships given away at Keeneland’s College Scholarship Day on Friday.

When she found out, Grueneberg said she got a missed call from a number she didn’t recognize and was wary about calling it back, “because you know telemarketers.”

After eventually calling the number, the person on the other side of the line said she “just won $10,000.”

“My dad’s going to be estactic,” Grueneberg said.

A first-generation college student from Louisville, Grueneberg said the scholarship would do “so much for me.”

“I have a couple of loans that I really need to pay off so that’s going to be so much help,” Grueneberg said. “It really feels like this weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

Along with the two $10,000 scholarships, college students were given a chance at winning one of ten $1,000 scholarships. Winners were notified by phone and were presented with their scholarships at Keeneland’s North Terrace, except for $10,000 scholarship winners, who officially received their checks in the Winner’s Circle.

Keeneland gives out the $1,000 scholarships, and the $10,000 scholarships are courtesy of the RunHappy Foundation, whose owners have a passion for higher education.

Charli Odenwelder, a junior from Transylvania and a $1,000 scholarship winner, said the scholarship would help her parents put their three kids through school.

“I was just like— flabbergasted,” Odenwelder said. “I was really surprised. I didn’t think that I would’ve won.”

Keeneland’s College Scholarship Day allows college students free admission to the track, free food and free opportunity to win scholarships and gifts from local businesses.

Mary McCord, a communications sciences and disorders senior, said she won a free one-night stay at the Castle in Versailles, Kentucky.

“I really didn’t expect to win anything,” McCord said. “I just came for the free stuff.”

Keeneland hosts College Scholarship Day to give back to the community and “invest in the future generations of racing,” said Betsy May, Keeneland’s Promotions and Community Manager.

“People never think they’re going to win,” May said. “That’s kind of the common reaction that we get, and it’s just overwhelming to see people get that scholarship and know that they don’t have to worry about that for the next semester.”

May said she hopes Keeneland can become a tradition for students “long after they graduate.”

The 10 $1,000 scholarships and two $10,000 is the most scholarship money Keeneland has ever given away, May said. This year, College Scholarship Day fell on the first day of Keeneland’s Spring Meet, and those who missed the scholarships this year can go back in the fall for more scholarship opportunities and a free day at the races.