Endowed scholarship established at Purdue University Northwest in honor of Lake Station couple

January 5, 2022

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) has announced the creation of an endowed scholarship to benefit graduates of Thomas A. Edison Jr. Sr. High School in Lake Station, Ind. 

The Helen and Frank Korpak Memorial Scholarship has been established by Dr. Jorge and Nancy Benavente and Lillian Gaskill in honor of Helen and Frank Korpak of Lake Station. The gift honors Nancy’s parents and Lillian’s sister. 

“With this scholarship we’d like to encourage students who graduate from Edison Jr. Sr. High School to further their education at Purdue Northwest,” said Nancy Benavente. “We’d also like to give people who previously graduated from Edison the opportunity to further their education.”

“We are grateful to the family of Frank and Helen Korpak for their generous gift of an endowed scholarship here at Purdue Northwest,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon. “The gift from the Benaventes and Ms. Gaskill will open a world of opportunities for the scholarship recipients, many of whom will be first-generation college students and will benefit greatly from their generosity.”

The endowed scholarship will first be awarded in fall 2022 with the incoming freshman class. Two students will be selected to receive the scholarship annually, with the possibility of increasing the number of recipients as the endowment grows. To be eligible, candidates must be graduates of Thomas A. Edison Jr. Sr. High School, with candidates demonstrating the greatest financial need being given priority. Students can apply for the scholarship through the PNW scholarship website at pnw.edu/scholarships.

Helen Korpak was one of the first female principals for a secondary school in the state of Indiana and the first female principal in Lake Station. Helen graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in education and began her career as a teacher. Over the years, she taught classes in health and safety and English before becoming a guidance counselor. Helen went on to graduate from PNW in 1972 with a master’s degree in Educational Studies. “My mother wanted to further her education,” Nancy said. “She returned to school, received a master’s degree and eventually became a school administrator.”

Frank Korpak spent 25 years with the Hobart City School System where he was employed in the maintenance department. “My parents were really involved and supportive of the school,” said Nancy. 

The endowed scholarship in the Korpaks’ name is a continuation of their commitment and encouragement of students to further their education. “My mother encouraged all of her students, especially her female students, to further their education,” Nancy said. “She would tell them to never give up, always look forward in life and believe that they could do anything because she felt like she could do anything.” 

The Benaventes and Gaskill wanted to create a scholarship that would help students from the Lake Station school and encourage them to attend PNW. “Purdue Northwest worked with my mother,” Nancy said. “She was able to further her career because of that and because of the education she received there. I’ve always felt a tie to the university.”

“The scholarship is meant to honor Frank and Helen,” Jorge added. “We hear stories about how they helped students all the time. They were hard-working people who never gave up on their dreams and were able to succeed in life because of an education. We hope the same for these students.”