The traditions of Appalachia and Berea College have always been intertwined for alumna Alice Sprinkle Baker ’56, of Lee County, Virginia. The youngest of five children, Alice grew up in the heart of Appalachian coal country. When a mining accident took the life of her father when she was 12, Alice and her family moved to Berea, Kentucky. Inspired by the welcome the College provided them in the wake of tragedy, many years later, Alice founded the Sprinkle Family Scholarship. The scholarship has, as first preference, students from Lee County, Virginia, and those from coal-mining families. Scholarship guidelines are set up so any Berea student may receive the scholarship if none from Lee County or coal mining-families are studying at Berea.
“I hope the fund will grow some,” Alice said, “and some family and friends may donate to the College.”
Alice and several of her siblings attended Berea’s Foundation School and College, and her mother spent years working at the College bakery. These deep family connections to Berea and its mission, as well as her desire to help students of today and beyond, led Alice to establish the endowed scholarship, which will benefit Berea students in perpetuity. Providing for students who share her background allows Alice to honor her father, who, she says, was insistent upon education for his children.
“He did get to see my sister graduate, but not me,” Alice said. “The proudest I ever saw him was the day my sister graduated from Berea College. I was 10 years old, but I still remember that very clearly.”
Alice fondly remembers her own time at Berea. As a town student living off campus with her mother, Alice was able to spend only one year living in a dormitory. Living with the other women of Anna Smith Hall, she says, was an incredible experience and contributed to her future career as an assistant dean and dean of women at both Capital University and Kansas State University, and later as a school counselor.
“That’s the one I treasure the most,” she said of her year in Anna Smith.
Alice said she is grateful for all Berea has meant to her family, and for the incredible friends she made along the way. People, she said, are what she enjoys most about her Berea family.
“What Berea stands for has meant everything in my life, and this scholarship is a way to keep that going,” she said.