College of Arts and Sciences graduate profile: Early visits to campus influenced honor student
Baldwin City, Kan. — Annual trips to Baker University from his hometown of Osawatomie for high school honor band performances made an impression on Jesse Kern.
“I was able to see the campus and be exposed to the music department,” Kern said. “I liked the size of the campus and the people I met at Baker while I was in high school.”
Kern enjoyed the experience so much that he enrolled at Baker. Four years later after his last honor band performance, Kern, the first in his family to attend college, will receive a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in chemistry and mathematics, during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 23, at the Collins Center on the Baldwin City campus.
“My last two years at Baker seemed to go by quickly,” Kern said. “I was taking classes that required a lot of time and I hit the books. I didn’t let extracurricular activities and the social life get in the way of scholastics. I would get my schoolwork done no matter what.”
Kern’s classmates noticed his efforts in the classroom. At the annual Undergraduate Research, Performance and Honors Symposium earlier this month, Kern was named the Student Senate Outstanding Male Scholar.
“I was surprised and excited that I was recognized by my peers,” said Kern, who has a 3.93 grade-point average and is active member of Zeta Chi fraternity.
Admittedly an introvert in high school, Kern embraced the opportunities to meet his college classmates and become involved in organizations.
“Getting to know your classmates started on the first or second day of orientation and continued in the First Year Experience program,” Kern said. “Everyone wanted to make friends with each other.”
Kern made lifelong friends in the music department, where he played the tuba and later the trumpet in Baker’s jazz band. Serving three years as a peer tutor, he also enjoyed interacting with students sharing an interest in his majors: chemistry and mathematics.
“I always enjoyed the one-on-one communication with other students,” Kern said. “As a tutor, I was able to work with a diverse group of students who had different backgrounds.”
After receiving his degree from Baker, Kern plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Kansas and work on various research projects for private companies.
Kern thanked his parents and teachers for developing his interests in science and math.
“When I was young, my dad would buy me the chemistry set for Christmases and my birthdays,” he said. “I always understood math and was quick to learn it. I have to give credit to my teachers who challenged me to do more in the classroom.”
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