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Aug. 30, 2012
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Biology major becomes first Baker student accepted into Scholars in Rural Health program

Baldwin City, Kan. — Growing up in Wamego and attending classes on Baker University’s Baldwin City campus, junior Sean Webb appreciates the sense of community between patients and their doctor in small Kansas towns.

So when Webb became the first Baker student to be accepted into the Scholars in Rural Health Program, the biology major was honored to begin his path to practicing medicine in small communities. He will discover the rewards and challenges of rural practice as he prepares for entry into medical school.Sean-Webb2

“I had wanted to be a part of the program since my sophomore year in high school,” said Webb, originally from Wamego, a town of 4,300 residents. “This program means a lot to me and will help me in my goal of being a doctor. For the vast majority of my life, I have wanted to work in a small town like Wamego or Baldwin City.”

The Scholars in Rural Health program is structured to identify and encourage undergraduate students from rural Kansas who are interested in building successful careers as physicians in rural areas. The shortage of primary care physicians in most of Kansas’ 105 counties, combined with the recognition that most of the state’s rural counties are medically underserved, led to the development of the program. Students apply in the second semester of their sophomore year in college. By being one of 15 students accepted statewide, Webb is assured admission to the University of Kansas School of Medicine upon successful completion of program requirements and graduation from Baker.

“He is a very deserving student,” said Darcy Russell, professor of biology at Baker University. “I think he will thrive in the program because of his passion for science and a passion for people. He is very intelligent and his work ethic is incomparable.

"He loves learning, is not satisfied until he really understands the material and is self-motivated. Sean holds himself to a very high academic threshold.”

With a mother and grandmother working as nurses, Webb was naturally attracted to a career in medicine. Since completing a report on leukemia in middle school, he has always gravitated to learning more about the human body, math and science.

“I enjoy seeing the relationship between patients and a doctor, especially when you really get to know the families,” said Webb, interested in general family medicine and pediatrics. “That relationship extends outside of the doctor’s office, and I love that. I want to be an influence in the lives of families outside of the office.”

Throughout the Scholars in Rural Health program, Webb will be required to “shadow” a local physician in his hometown, complete case reports each semester and write a manuscript on a health-related topic before taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

The Baldwin City campus has been a good match for Webb. He has excelled as an honors student, recognized by the National Society of College Scholars and by the Phi Eta Sigma honor society for freshmen. A year ago, he was honored as the sophomore biology student of the year. Webb is a lab assistant and will serve as a tutor this semester.

“I chose Baker because Baldwin City was comparable in size to Wamego, and I enjoy the feel of a small community,” Webb said. “The university’s academic prowess, availability of professors and small student-to-faculty ratio also appealed to me. I am learning how to manage my time and set my priorities in order.”

Webb is enjoying studying the sciences even more with the completion of the Ivan L. Boyd Center for Collaborative Science Education in time for the start of his junior year.

“The renovated Mulvane Hall and addition of Hartley Hall will be great for the future of Baker,” Webb said. “There is so much more room for lab and research, where students can spread out for such courses as ecology and molecular cell biology.”

And maybe inspire the next students interested in serving their rural communities.


Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.