(Pictured: Liz, daughter Rose, sons Quana, Sam and Gabriel)

We’re catching up with SPSF NWA alumni, Liz Baker. Liz graduated from John Brown University in 2015 with her B.S. in Organizational Management. You might recognize her children, as they were our featured panel at this year’s Spark of Hope. Read on to see what Liz and the kids are up to these days.

What are your children’s names and ages?
Rose, Senior (18); Quana, Freshman (14); Sam, 7th (12); Gabriel, 3rd (9) at Prairie Grove schools.

What college did you attend, graduate, and what is your degree?
I first attended NWACC where I earned my Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Homeland Security & Emergency Management (2013), then went on to John Brown University, where I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Organizational Management (2015).

What has been the most rewarding thing about having a degree?
An education is something I carry with me as a badge of honor. It supports my chosen identity of strong mother and friend, proud daughter and sister, and strategic leader in the retail healthcare industry.

What or who kept you motivated during your time as an SPSF NWA scholarship recipient? How did SPSF NWA contribute to that motivation? My children and our safety, financial freedom, and future security were the motivating factors during that time. However, my mama kept me going when I couldn’t keep my eyes open and pushed me to break through the barriers. The staff at SPSF NWA were always there for me and the kids, and the board and donors were instrumental through their displays of support, encouragement, and real-time focus on my family’s needs.

How did your pursuit of a college education influence your children or other family members?
Rose is a senior in high school and is not looking at the IF she will attend, but WHERE to lay an undergraduate foundation for her goal of running a company. The boys talk about their dreams freely and ALWAYS with the caveat that their first adventure will be undergraduate education.

What has changed most for you and your family now that you are no longer in school?
Honestly, moving into the teenage years while balancing a career, I’m stretched further and challenged more than I ever thought imaginable. I wouldn’t have it any other way! We work hard, play hard, and figure it out along the way.

What was the most beneficial part of being a SPSF NWA scholarship recipient?
The opportunity to connect with incredible community leaders, business leaders, and lifelong friends.

What do your kids want to be when they grow up?
Rose will run her own company someday, Quana wants to work on a PhD in instrumental music, Sam is fascinated by athletics, and Gabe… let’s just say we won’t be surprised if he runs for President someday!

What is your favorite SPSF NWA memory or activity (events, socials, fundraisers, etc.)?
I remember my first Jingle Mingle… 2011 maybe? I received my first acceptance letter days before the event and the executive director asked me to speak. I could barely raise my eyes to the crowd, but I did it. The encouragement and support I received at that event changed the course of my life.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment since completing your degree?
My greatest accomplishment then, now, and always is my family. Every day, I’m given the opportunity to work hard and provide for them in my role at Walmart Inc., and my next adventure is an Executive MBA. Wish me luck!

Looking back, was there one skill that you learned that was particularly useful, either in college or in the professional world?
I learned how to work hard and give back regardless of my circumstances.

What advice would you give someone desiring to go back to school/current recipient?
You WILL be shaped by something, so why not let it be shaped by something makes you better.

What is something that has surprised you since graduating?
I was surprised that graduation doesn’t mean the work is done. The work BEGINS after graduation and it is worth every second!