Ds Scholarship

EARNING HIS WAY: New Palestine senior earns Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholarship – The Daily Reporter

New Palestine High School senior Braeden Baker was awarded an Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholarship. The program recognizes Indiana’s most accomplished students. The award includes a scholarship, laptop computer and funding to study abroad. The program welcomes a minimum of 30 incoming Indiana University freshmen every year. Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

Tom Russo| Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — Braeden Baker is what is known as an “old soul,” his mother Angie Baker said. He’s the kind of teenager who likes hanging out with his family and accomplishing goals, like teaching himself how to play golf.

It was no surprise to the family when the New Palestine High School senior started making plans for his future when he was only in middle school. Thanks to pep talks from his parents, Mark and Angie Baker, Braeden had visions of going to college debt-free and getting an education without any of the financial worry. That meant he would have to work hard and get good grades plus step out of his comfort zone to become a school leader in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.

Baker, 18, has accomplished all or those goals, including the longterm dream of having his college paid for. Last week, Braeden learned he was a recipient of the Adam W. Herbert Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes Indiana’s most accomplished students. The Indiana University award includes a scholarship, laptop computer and funding to study abroad for some of the state’s brightest young leaders.

The scholarship program gives top-achieving high school graduates in Indiana a head start on reaching their college goals with a four-year renewable scholarship to attend IU Bloomington, IUPUI or any regional campus. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the program welcomes a minimum of 30 incoming Indiana University freshmen every year.

“It is a dream come true,” Braeden said. “My parents told me and my older sister when we were younger that if we wanted to go to college debt free we’d have to work for the scholarship we wanted and we both did.”

Earning the scholarship was a huge weight lifted off of Braeden’s shoulders, he said, knowing he does not have to go through the many financial difficulties most students do when balancing life and paying for college.

“Both my parents were unable to go to college because of financial reasons, and I’m so thankful for the amount of hard work they put in over the years to help my older sister and I to build up our motivation,” Braeden said.

When Baker saw how his older sister, Keelie Baker, who is six years older and works at Riley Hospital for Children, was able to get a full-ride scholarship through the Bepko Scholars and Fellows program, it fired him up. That program is also designed for a select group of students who demonstrate outstanding commitment to service, academic excellence, integrity and character.

“I’m lucky to be in that same boat as my sister,” Braeden said with a laugh. “Ever since my freshman year, it’s been kind of a competition where I’ve tried to beat and succeed in everything she’s done and this is just one step closer to doing that.”

Like his older sister, Braeden will attend the IUPUI campus, where he’s enrolled in the Honor’s College. He plans to study constitutional law and already has an internship set up at the Indiana State Capital for the next two years where he will learn everything he can about state politics.

“I’m happy about going to college in Indianapolis so I can still be close to my family,” Braeden said. “That’s something I’m looking forward to.”

While the financial assitance associated with the scholarship is rewarding, Braeden noted it’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work he’s put into his studies over the past four years. In addition to playing golf for the Dragons, Braeden plays a leadership role at his school. He’s the co-president of the student council, co-president of the Spanish National Honor Society and has been a team leader in numerous extracurricularactivities.

“I think the one thing that kind of set me apart from all the other qualified applicants is that I’m very mature for my age in regards to leadership,” Braeden said. “I’m there when people need me — setting people on a course to where they need to go, but I don’t give them what I know they can earn.”

While Braeden’s parents had a good feeling their son would be recognized for all of his hard work, the family was ecstatic when official word came about the scholarship. Braeden’s mother noted her son is a hard-working young man and is thankful officials with the scholarship program recognized his leadership value.

“We’ve always taught all three of our kids that they were not going to be given anything in life,” Angie said. “We taught them they have to earn it, and Braeden did.”

Angie noted their oldest child, Keelie, set the bar high, and Braeden has followed right along by focusing on college scholarship opportunities. Keelie’s scholarship will also pay for her master’s degree, something she’s working on.

“We never put it on Braeden that he had to follow his sister because he’s his own person, but he started taking on more responsibility and working hard even in middle school,” his mother said. “We feel fortunate they’ve gotten the scholarships but, regardless, had they not, they’re pretty amazing kids.”

After high school graduation, Braeden plans to head to IUPUI this summer where he will start doing some work with the Honor’s College in July.

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