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“Help A Hero Scholarship” awarded to veteran student

Jonathan Baker, a senior majoring in biology, served in the U.S. Army for over 20 years, 11 years in active duty as a medic and ten years in the reserves.

Baker was one of more than 350 veterans and active service members nationwide who were awarded the Help A Hero Scholarship this year.

The “Help A Hero” Scholarship is a program supported by Sports Clips and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to provide financial aid to veterans and service members who attend post-secondary or trade schools. 

After he graduates in the spring, Baker hopes to attend medical school and eventually return to the military as a doctor.

“In my first two deployments that I had, there were a lot of things I didn’t know,” he said. “I didn’t learn until after the fact that if I would have known beforehand, I could’ve gotten some guys home so their families could at least say goodbye.”

With his new medical degree, he will be able to assist the medics under him to guarantee they don’t have to live with any of the regrets he had while he was in their position.

“It would have kept them alive. Not necessarily long term, but long enough,” he said.

The Help A Hero Scholarship was one of only three scholarships that Baker could apply for this year due to the demographics he is a part of. He said that winning this scholarship helped free up some of his financial burdens.

“I was surprised, but I was also happy that I did because it’s helping me keep a little extra money in my pocket to help pay for some other bills that I have back home,” he said.

In his scholarship application, Baker wrote an essay about his future career goals and the minor differences he feels he has made while serving in in the military.

One of these experiences was helping to care for children in Afghanistan.

“We would actually set up a leishmaniasis clinic in Afghanistan for a few months while we were there to help some of the local people,” he said. “Leishmaniasis is an infection that is spread by sandflies, which are common to the area. A lot of people[…] sleep on really thin mattresses, if at all, in the dirt. So they very easily get [leishmaniasis] and it was mainly children that we treated for it. The oldest one we had was maybe 12.”

Since he is not deemed as a ‘typical college student’, Baker has had a somewhat difficult time transitioning from the military into student life.

“I don’t think I’ve fully transitioned over,” he said. “I still stay away from a lot of people because it’s like, literally I am twice as old as a lot of people.” 

While growing up and in high school, Baker said he saw the college experience as attending classes during the week followed swiftly by partying on the weekends. This has not been his experience at college, however.

“I don’t really mess around with a lot of stuff, like I go to work or study and I also call my mom and bug her if I don’t drive down to her place,” he said.

Despite this, he does like to talk with fellow students to try and make their day a little brighter.

“Usually with students, I’m telling a lot of bad dad jokes,” he said. “I’ll randomly walk up to somebody, especially some of the people that work on campus, like some of the students that are at the help desks and stuff. I walk up to them and be like, ‘Hey, what do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros? An el-if-I-know.’”

When he is not in classes, Baker works part-time as an EMT and referees children’s soccer matches.

He is excited to graduate this spring and take the following steps toward his career.

Addison Foreman is a reporter. Contact her a [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Addison Foreman, General Assignment Editor
Addison is a junior journalism major minoring in creative writing and political science. She enjoys writing about politics, government and current events. She also loves reading and hanging out with her cat. Contact her at [email protected]  

Comments (2)

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  • S

    Shirley A BakerNov 2, 2023 at 11:22 am

    That’s my boy!!

  • J

    Jonathan BakerNov 2, 2023 at 10:05 am

    Hey that was about me. It does read very well.