Carl and Claudia Bajema are steeped in Laker traditions. Carl is a professor emeritus of biology at Grand Valley State University, having been in the classroom for more than 40 years. Claudia has both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the university and is currently the director of graduate programs for the Seidman College of Business. Their kids attended Grand Rapids Public Schools and three headed to Grand Valley.
“We’re proud enough of Grand Valley that we encourage our kids to go to Grand Valley and that is important criteria. Would you send your kids there? The answer is yes,” Carl said.
This year, the Bajemas really showed their commitment to the university by creating the Carl and Claudia Bajema Grand Rapids Urban Schools Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship was initiated for students in Grand Rapids Public Schools who have a desire to attend Grand Valley. “It made sense that we would target students from the Grand Rapids Public Schools because we have such a commitment to that institute as well as to Grand Valley,” Claudia said. Claudia also served on the school board in Grand Rapids for a number of years.
“When I hear the estimate of how much students owe when they graduate, it tells me that they need more money than what I needed when I went to school,” Carl said. The Bajemas agree that when they give to Grand Valley, they know their money is making an impact. “We can help others and we’re thrilled to be able to do that,” Claudia said. “We hope our own kids do that someday.”