Class of 2020 North Lamar, Mason Ingram, was named the recipient of the Slade Baker Memorial Scholarship and was awarded the $2400 for enrollment into the Texas Fire Academy this fall.
“I’m very proud of his achievement to know what he wants to do and to have been a part of this scholarship opportunity,” his mother Jodie Ingram said.
Ingram was one of several candidates that took the opportunity to submit an essay in hopes of being the first recipient of the scholarship.
“When I received the initial call to be told I had won, I thought it was a prank call,” said Ingram. “I really didn’t think I had a chance at winning, but I’m really happy I took the chance.”
The Slade Baker Memorial Scholarship was posthumously created by local firefighters after the sudden death of Layton “Donnie” Slade Baker, a firefighter who served Lamar County with the Paris Fire Department from April 2017 to when he passed on October 20, 2019.
The 24-years old, Louisiana native was “an excellent firefighter, always striving to better himself both professionally and as a person,” said Austin Sugg, one of the board members of the scholarship foundation.
“Slade loved life and was always smiling, and was the first to offer help to anyone who needed it. He had a true servant’s heart,” added colleague and fellow board member Jordan Blackshear.
The crux of the subject was made to reflect the scholarship namesake when it came to eligibility requirements for those seeking to win the scholarship, which was awarded $2400 towards tuition fees for the Texas Fire Academy.
No matter whether you were lucky enough to know Slade on a personal basis or had met him in passing, he left a lasting impression on all. This scholarship is intended to give back to the Lamar County community, which is what Slade always did.
“Characteristics of public service members are almost just as important as the service they do themselves. Smart, loyal, compassionate, ethical, and committed are just some of the characteristics I can use to describe some of the public service members I know,” wrote Ingram in his essay submission.
“Mason’s submitted essay over the meaning of Public Service was reviewed and selected from several submissions from Lamar county residents pursuing careers in fire service,” explained Cade Oats, a member of the Paris Fire Department and selection board.
Baker’s sister Kelsye Baker was also a part of the process, and she was thoroughly impressed with Ingram’s essay.
“When I read the essay, it brought tears to my eyes. Mason obviously has a servant & selfless heart like Slade, and I couldn’t think of a better person to win the scholarship. I have no doubt he will excel and love being a fireman just like Slade did. We are feeling very proud and honestly very thankful,” she said.
While finishing his senior year at North Lamar, Ingram also took it upon himself to be proactive, knowing that he wanted to pursue a first responder career. He is currently doing an online EMT course in preparation as he awaits his further training at the Texas Fire Academy.
“I had thought about a career in law enforcement, and I went back and forth on it, before landing on firefighting,” Ingram said.
Having had many influences from friends and family serving in various first responder roles, Ingram said that he always felt compelled to that line of work.
“I’m looking forward to being able to be the person to help people when they need it and being a part of a community of people that care about more others than themselves and trying to help others around them have a better life,” he added.
“We are just very proud of him and what he has achieved so far,” said dad Greg. “Mason and his friends, I think, have supported and encouraged each other in what they want to pursue careers after high school, and they have all landed in roles that will benefit the community they live in.”
When it comes to honoring their fallen brother, the firefighters of the Paris Fire Department are happy knowing that each year a new local will have the honor in continuing the traditions of firefighters everywhere and in doing so will be paying tribute to a young man that aimed to inspire all those that he came in contact with.
“No matter whether you were lucky enough to know Slade on a personal basis or had met him in passing, he left a lasting impression on all. This scholarship is intended to give back to the Lamar County community, which is what Slade always did,” added Adam Bolton, a retired firefighter, and board member.
“This is not a profession to choose without thoughtful consideration. There is certainly more fortune, free time, and privacy found in other careers. But I can’t think of any other career that is more rewarding,” said Ingram.