Rick Baker, a well-respected and renowned financial professional, has partnered with Snead State Community College to give $250,000 in scholarships to students from Crossville High School over the next 10 years.
“We are thrilled to enter into this generous partnership with Mr. Baker, and we are even more delighted for the future students that will benefit from his gracious commitment,” said Snead State President Dr. Joe Whitmore. “Crossville High School students’ lives will forever be impacted by Mr. Baker’s donation.”
Baker is a native of Sand Mountain. He graduated from Crossville High School in 1977. While in high school, Baker participated in Snead State Community College’s Dual Enrollment program – called “accelerated high school” at the time – to complete college courses.
“Both Crossville and Snead State had an incredible influence on the early part of my life and set the foundation for my later success,” Baker said. “I had a dual enrollment with Snead while I attended Crossville High School. Snead State was my first experience in college, and propelled me into my career, in economics, finance and investments.
“Most certainly I wanted to impact the community where I came from,” Baker said. “Because of my previous positive experience with Snead, I knew it was the right fit for the students at Crossville High School. I met with President Whitmore and Crossville Principal Jon Peppers, and they immediately understood my vision and got their respective teams working to make this possible.”
Baker came from humble beginnings.
“His parents were farmers,” said Dr. Thomas Warren, a science instructor at Snead State Community College and longtime family friend of Baker. “His parents never finished high school and his father was illiterate. Rick’s dad would go to the bank with a check, hand it to the cashier and say, ‘Fill it out for me.’ Then he would sign it. He knew his signature, but that was it … growing up in poverty made Rick determined to better his and his family financial situation.
Fast forward decades later, Baker has done just that.
Baker went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics from Auburn University and further his studies at the Wharton School of Business. He currently resides in Clearwater, Florida, and is a Managing Director at Merrill/Bank of America.
But Baker hasn’t forgotten about the people and community that molded him.
During a recent visit to his hometown, Baker spoke to many students Monday, Jan. 9, inside Crossville High School’s gymnasium. He shared an inspirational message and made a commitment that would change those students’ lives.
Through a partnership with Snead State Community College, Baker announced he has committed to giving $25,000 each year over the next decade so Crossville students would have a chance to go to college.
“We are excited for what the future holds for our students at Crossville High School. Mr. Rick Baker’s generosity and compassion for our future generation is remarkable,” said Crossville High School Principal Jon Peppers. “This scholarship program is a great starting point for the recipients to make a change in their life as well as their families lives. We are excited to join in this partnership with Snead State Community College and begin making a difference in the lives of our students. Thanks to Mr. Baker and Snead State for investing in the future of our CHS graduates.”
Warren, who will head up an internal committee for the new scholarship program, said scholarships would be awarded to graduates and dual enrollment students.
“A lot of students at Crossville have one opportunity to become upwardly mobile, and that’s at Snead State,” Warren said. “Whether it’s a trade certificate or an associate degree to move on to a four-year college, they can’t get to those steps without coming Snead, and Snead is where Rick started his academic career. Rick realizes the need to provide opportunities to the Crossville community.
“Rick has provided an opportunity for students who may not have had such an opportunity otherwise, and at the end of the day, that’s why Snead State is here,” he added. “Our vision at Snead is student-driven, so, this is kind of a physical manifestation of that vision.” Warren said the college was currently working to iron out further details. More information will be available soon at snead.edu.