Lessie began her association with Southwestern as an academy senior. The school at Jefferson, Texas, where her parents had located, did not offer the twelfth grade. So, in order to earn tuition to finish academy, she, with her cousin Jimmie, spent the summer going from door-to-door selling "Our Day in the Light of Prophecy." To earn board and lodging when she got to Southwestern, she lived with a village family and cared for their five children. After graduating from Southwestern Junior College, Lessie earned her bachelor's degree from Union College, her master's degree from the University of Nebraska, and her doctorate from the University of Denver. Her teaching career took her to Maplewood Academy, Broadview Academy, Union College, Atlantic Union College, and to the University of Denver for 26 years, where she retired as associate professor emeritus.
An author and editor, Dr. Hagen has been honored for her contribution to education and society. She was listed in "Who's Who of American Women," "Who's Who in the West," and the "Dictionary of International Biography." She received from Jefferson Academy the Distinguished Alumna Award, from Union College the Distinguished Achievement Award, from the U.S. Army a Citation for Teaching Excellence, and from Southwestern Adventist University membership in the Alumni Hall of Fame.
A plaque hanging in a lecture room in the Mabee Center is a memorial to her husband, Russell, who died in 1989. Also, Hagen Hall has been named in her honor.
An alumna of Southwestern Adventist University, Dr. Lessie Culpepper Hagen established a named scholarship for women in 1988. She says a scholarship is one way to help a student in financial need and support the University, whose dedicated teachers made an indelible mark on her mind and heart.
Scholarship award requirements
This scholarship is awarded to female students pursuing English or business degrees.