First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest  (FPC) has offered Plansoen Family Scholarships to deserving Lake Forest College (LFC) Students for three years beginning with the 2016 – 2017 academic year.

The church’s vision of the program from its beginning was to provide financial assistance to deserving LFC students along with helping those students develop and strengthen their faith and find meaning in their life through practical church and community service.  During the school year Plansoen Scholar’s are required to participate in the life and community of FPC.  A reasonable arrangement for that to happen will be mutually scheduled and agreed upon.  In addition Plansoen Scholars will regularly meet as a group with the Church’s Plansoen Scholarship Director who serves as their guide and mentor throughout the year.

The goal of the program is to demonstrate to each student the impact they can have through service and to provide an opportunity to grow spiritually by participating in FPC community of faith. 

In the first three years FPC received $26,000 per year and awarded anywhere from 6 to 10 scholarships.  In 2019 – 2020 FPC requested more money and we were awarded $50,000, but since our Youth Pastor Sean Kelly had resigned, the program was placed on hold with no scholarships being awarded.

This past year Dr. Don Dempsey volunteered to direct the program for the coming year.  Don and Stewart Kerr, FPC Mission Director, met with Jerry Cebrzynski, Assistant VP for Financial Aid at LFC and Jerry communicated with the LFC student body that FPC was seeking applications for five $10,000 Plansoen Scholarship’s to be awarded  for the coming academic Year, 2020 – 2021.   The deadline for the applications was set for June 12th

We received 126 applications by the deadline.  Stewart Kerr and Don Dempsey carefully read each application and compared their ratings.  After further meetings and conversations, Don and Stewart, with input from Jerry Cebrzynski at LFC, they ended up with approximately 35 to 40 applicants that were judged to be excellent candidates.  The list of candidates was pared down to a final 15 who were then interviewed. The following six church members were asked and agreed to be a part of that interview process:  Mary Gould Moorehead, Beth Mynhier; Jen Redding; Mike Conklin; John Johnson; and John McNicholas.  

Hour long Zoom interviews were scheduled and conducted with each of the 15 Finalists.  Don Dempsey set up and led each of the Zoom interviews with the fifteen finalists along with one of the above interviewers.  Each finalist was asked similar questions and all were rated on the following categories:  Personal Spirituality; Leadership; Initiative and Drive; Enthusiasm; Adaptability, Creativity; Interpersonal Communication; Collegiality; and Energy.  Taking into consideration the totality of the interview, the rating sheets, and feedback from the interviewers, Dr. Don Dempsey, the Director of the Plansoen Scholarship Program selected the final five finalists.


This year’s Plansoen Scholars are the following five Lake Forest College Students:


Jamari Tansmore

Jamari is a Junior at Lake Forest College majoring in Economics and Data Science.  He’s from Chandler, Arizona and is the youngest of 3 boys.  His father is currently a minister, having had pastoral experience – as he once shepherded a church in Mesa, Arizona.  Jamari’s first loves are music and sports.  He was recruited from Chandler High School to play football at LFC and is currently Captain of the Lake Forest Football Team.

His mother is originally from Indianapolis and his father from Gary and they met while they were students at Purdue University.  Jamari loves gospel music and grew up playing the piano at his father’s church.

In his essay he wrote that he grew up being taught that love is the answer.  “We know that God’s love for us is insurmountable and unconditional.”  He believes that we are called to respond to God’s unconditional love for us by serving others.  

Jamari sees the Plansoen Scholarship as providing for him the opportunity to serve the wider community by participating in the life and mission of First Presbyterian Church, which appeals to his “ministerial roots.”   


We look forward to getting to know Jarmari and we welcome his presence among us in this coming 2020 – 2021 class of Plansoen Family Scholars.  Welcome Jarmari to FPC!




Angela Addante

Angela is a Junior at Lake Forest College with a major in Education and History.  She grew up in Addison, Il and graduated from Addison Trails High School where she was active in most everything.  

At LFC she is a member and officer of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, a Student Ambassador (Tour Guide), Golden Apple Mentor and Tutor, and a member of the Student Programming Board, a 2020-2021 Student Academic Advisory Council Representative, and a member and officer of the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity.

Growing up she was very active in her Catholic Parish. She was a Eucharistic Minister, Youth Bible Camp Leader, Saturday School Assistant and as she says, “everything in-between.”  

Currently she wants to explore other Christian and faith communities to give back to something larger than herself, to create relationships with those around her and connect with her spiritual roots.  As a Phansoen Scholar she looks forward to getting involved in our congregation in order  to nourish her deep love of serving others.  She states, “it will be an honor and privilege to serve and grow alongside the members of FPC.”


We look forward to getting to know Angela and we welcome her presence among us in this coming 2020 – 2021 class of Plansoen Family Scholars.  Welcome Angela to FPC!



Chantel Smith

Chantel is a Senior at Lake Forest College with a major in Psychology.  She lives in North Chicago.  In order to attend college Chantel has had to work 30 to 40 hours a week.  She has worked all of her college years, the last year and a half at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.  In addition she found time to volunteer at the North Chicago VA Hospital.  Additionally she serves as a mentor at her old high school inspiring and assisting students by encouraging them to seek additional education and other learning experiences in spite of their personal, environmental, and financial adversities.  

Chantel is the first generation college student in her family.  She began that journey by completing a two year degree at the College of Lake County. 

She says:  “Along the way, I felt discouraged and defeated, but I didn’t give up.  I kept the faith, I worked hard,  My diligence paid off, I received two scholarships which covered most of my expenses at community college.  Also along with the scholarships, I received two awards for academic excellence.  The two scholarships gave me the opportunity to volunteer by working with disadvantages preschoolers.” 

Chantel says that beyond getting her Bachelor’s Degree, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in social work so that she can continue to support and serve under privileged communities like her own.  She wants others to believe that they too can overcome adversity and achieve their goals as long as you have faith.  

We look forward to getting to know Chantel and we welcome her presence among us in this coming 2020 – 2021 class of Plansoen Family Scholars.  Welcome Chantel to FPC!



Tebatso Duba

Tebatso is a Junior Psychology and Philosophy major at LFC.  She’s is from South Africa. She is a resident assistant, a 2020 Richter Scholar, the # 2 Women’s Tennis player, who is largely drawn to law, civil justice, and legal studies along with a passion for gender and cognitive research. She writes:

“I am in awe of the collaborative nature of the journey that led me to this point.  In my culture we celebrate “Ubuntu,” which means, I am because you are.  Note that “Ubuntu” is not just a phrase, it is a philosophy and a way of life.  So, learning from my own experiences and the communal values instilled by “Ubuntu,” I recognize the importance of community and I am committed to public service, leadership and advocacy.  Consequently, my overarching goal for my Lake Forest career is to create a better path and experience for the students coming after me.”   

“I believe the FPC program will be a wholesome and invaluable experience to enrich my skills and ability to navigate through communal initiatives.”

We look forward to getting to know Tebatso and we welcome her presence among us as part this year’s 2020 – 2021 class of Plansoen Family Scholars.  Welcome Tebatso to FPC!



Carlson Ayanlaja

Carlson Ayanlaja was born in Munster, IN on February 3rd, 2000. From a young age, Carlson grew up with loving parents and developed a well-rounded perspective in the process. At an early age, Carlson moved to Chicago, IL, where he lived until the fourth grade. Due to his mother’s work as an educator, Carlson moved to Sioux City, IA, where he lived for two years, then Hartford, CT. Ultimately, Chicago called Carlson and his family back home, where he attended and graduated from De La Salle Institute. 

As a student at Lake Forest College, Carlson is a rising junior and has been involved in a variety of activities. He has served as a Student Ambassador in the LFC Office of Admissions and he leads families and prospective students on campus tours. In addition, Carlson is a Gummere Fellow in the Office of Admissions and he supports student recruitment efforts through meeting with potential students and engaging with alumni at events. Carlson also plays the trumpet as a member of the LFC Concert Band. 

Carlson is the product of a bi-cultural marriage with an African-American mother and a Nigerian father. He participates in UMOJA, which focuses on promoting awareness and the cultural perspective of the African continent.

Carlson stated in his application: “The most important component of God’s people is community. As an inclusive group we must acknowledge and respect everyone’s diverse background.  We are all bound by a divine creator.” 

We look forward to getting to know Carlson and we welcome his presence among us in this coming 2020 – 2021 class of Plansoen Family Scholars. Welcome Carlson to FPC!



FPC Plansoen Scholarship Director, Don Dempsey

Dr. Don Dempsey and his wife Meg are known to us here at FPC.  In November of 2002, Don came to FPC as an Interim Associate Pastor.  He was on the staff as an Interim for five and a half years.  He wore many hats during those years and helped to keep the church together and moving forward.  He began serving under Head of Staff, the Rev. Art Webster and worked alongside the Rev. Gordon Butcher and the Rev. Kent Kinney.  After Rev. Webster left, he then worked with the new Interim Head of Staff, the Rev. Jim Brasel.  He stayed and worked under the leadership of the new Head of Staff, the Rev Christine Chakoian until the Spring of 2008.  From that point on and for the next eight years he served as an Interim Head of Staff at six churches, including, Winnetka Presbyterian Church, Kenilworth Union Church and Wilmette Presbyterian Church.  Don’s been an honorably retired minister of Chicago Presbytery since January of 2017.

Don states: “Volunteering to be the Director of the Plansoen Scholarship Program is perfect.  I am retired and I’ve been looking for something meaningful to do and now I’ve found it!”

After graduating from seminary, Don served in three different settings as a small town pastor for ten years in Southern Indiana.  He then changed careers ending up working in the corporate banking world in Chicago at Continental Illinois National Bank for five years.  Two years after being appointed a Personnel Banking Officer, he was “downsized” along with many others at the bank,  He then transitioned to the field of Outplacement as a Career Counselor.  

Prior to arriving at FPC in 2002, he had worked in the field of Corporate Outplacement for over thirteen years leading workshops all over the country, and coaching job seekers, helping them transition to new career opportunities.   Don is very excited to have the opportunity to direct this year’s Plansoen Family Scholarship Program.  

This year’s Plansoen Scholars will be introduced on Sunday, September 13th at morning worship.  Please welcome them, one and all, to our community of faith here at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.