Baker University recently welcomed its first Ada Hopkins Lake Endowed Scholarship recipient to campus. The scholarship provides Jezeriah Simpson, from Uniontown, Kansas, with full tuition, fees, on-campus housing, meals, and books.
The Ada Hopkins Lake Endowed Scholarship was made possible by a $2 million gift from Baker alumnus Joseph Lake, who graduated from Baker in 1941. He met his wife, Jan (Cutter), at Baker and they had three daughters: Sally, Margaret and Nancy.
“Baker University is so grateful to the Lake family for their incredible generosity and true commitment to our university. They are continuing Mrs. Lake’s legacy of providing an education to future generations of Baker students,” said Baker University President Lynne Murray.
Throughout his life, Lake knew that he wanted to help students not just attend college, but also focus on their education without having to work while in school like he had. He arrived at Baker with $8 in his pocket and worked several jobs while he was a student.
After graduating from Baker and serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp, Lake’s fascination with the new medium of television led to a lifelong career. He started by selling TV advertising and retired as the general manager of the CBS affiliate in Sacramento, California. His professional success and deep appreciation for education led him to fund a scholarship at Baker University to honor his mother, who had been a teacher and stressed to Lake the importance of an education and attending college.
“He wanted to give the gift to students so they wouldn’t have to worry about meals and food and where they were going to sleep at night,” said Lake’s daughter Margaret. “He wanted them to have a chance to just be students, to benefit from just being students.”
The first student to benefit from Lake’s vision and generosity is Jezeriah Simpson. He was selected after participating in Baker’s Scholarship Competition Day in December and was chosen for this need-based scholarship on the strength of his leadership qualities and academic accomplishments.
“I am so extremely thankful to have received such a generous gift. My life is truly changed for the better. It means the world to me to have people believe in me, and I will work extremely hard to make the most of this opportunity. I hope to one day be able to pay it forward and provide someone else with an opportunity to live out their dreams as well,” Simpson said. “I cannot express my gratitude enough to the people that made this possible, so I hope my actions will one day speak for me.”
On learning that he had been awarded the scholarship, Simpson was overwhelmed that his dream of becoming a Baker Wildcat was coming true. Although Baker was the university he wanted to attend, he knew it would be a large financial commitment for his family, and he wasn’t sure they would be able to afford it.
“The family’s faith and trust that things would work out were confirmed when Jezeriah found out he was the recipient of this scholarship,” said Director of Admissions Emma Carter. “It was amazing to witness his reaction.”