Matthew J. Luedeman
After journalism student Matthew Luedeman died of a brain tumor in spring 2011, his parents wanted to find a way for his spirit to live on.
They created the Matthew J. Luedeman Endowed Memorial Scholarship to memorialize Matt, his love of writing and his passion for his journalism major, said his mother, Carla Putnam.
As a teenager, Luedeman loved playing baseball, hanging out at the pool and going to concerts. He was a sharp student, Putnam said, and in high school his talent for writing really came out.
“I recall like it was yesterday a particular day in his junior year of high school, after proofreading a paper for him, saying, ‘You are really a good writer.’ I said it many times after that because his skills just got better,” she said.
After graduating from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, Luedeman entered IU as a business major. But business school was not a good fit for him, his mom said, so he made the switch to journalism.
“I remember a comment he made to me after making the switch: ‘I am back, Mom. This is where I belong,’” Putnam said. “It was obvious to me that he was right. His enthusiasm for school returned.”
Luedeman was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November 2009.
“It was so sad to me that just as he had found his place, his world turned upside down and he began a battle for his life,” Putnam said.
He was determined to earn his degree despite surgeries and treatments. His first surgery was during Christmas break 2009, and he came back to IU in the spring.
That determination left a big impression on academic adviser Lauren Kinzer and on Lily Luo, his instructor in his reporting and editing class. Both were struck by Luedeman’s tenacity in pursuing his studies despite his illness.
Kinzer recalled his reluctance to drop classes as his health worsened.
“He didn’t want to drop them since that would mean pushing back his degree completion — and he really wanted to earn his degree, even though I believe he realized it was possible he wouldn’t ever actually get to use it,” she said.
Luo remembered Luedeman’s polite and pleasant personality, and his determination to learn as much as he could.
“Although he suffered from a deadly disease and the chemo treatment, he worked harder than any other student in my class,” Luo said. “He always came earlier and got prepared for the class.”
For the recipients, the scholarship will ease the financial burden of college, and for Matt’s parents, the scholarship is a special way to remember their son.
“His bright light will blend with those of the special, talented journalism students who are selected to receive his scholarship because they possess so many of the characteristics Matt had,” his mother said. “These fine young adults will go out into the world to do great things, just as Matt would have. What could be a greater tribute to a beautiful young man than that?”