Laconya Clemons is a dreamer.

20 years ago, she started pursuing a career in acting — a career that took her from her small hometown in North Carolina to Los Angeles, the City of Dreams. While in LA, she spent time working with children through performance and performing arts, where she found her real passion, one that would take her on her next adventure.

“My heart and soul is just in helping abused kids find a safe haven,” Clemons said.

Clemons dreams of opening a residential treatment center for abused and neglected children with the goal to provide them not only a safe, loving space, but also provide therapy and an education.

But when she left North Carolina, Clemons also left her undergraduate program. As fate would have it 20-some years later, she heard about Baker University School of Professional Studies undergraduate programs, and knew it could help her achieve her dreams. Only a few days later, she packed up her car and headed out — all the way to Kansas City.

“I saw what Baker represented and what it offered: community, growth and a cohort along the way to help you,” Clemons said.

Clemons enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration degree, where she would learn all the basics required to achieve her dreams. In her words, deciding to relocate almost 1900 miles away was “the best decision (she’s) ever made.”

“I mean, really,” Clemons said. “When I started, I wasn’t sure what I was stepping into and I was scared. But my first teacher saw my potential and told me to trust myself and keep walking the path. Once I started, I realized I wasn’t alone in the process; I had people that really believed in me, not through their words, but also through their actions.”

During her time at Baker, Clemons joined Sigma Beta Delta, an invitation-only international honor society for business, management, and administration. The chapter is for baccalaureate students and graduate students who rank in the top 20 percent of their class. She then applied for a scholarship through the society, and, to her surprise, was one of about 20 recipients to receive the award.

“I didn’t really believe it at first,” Clemons said. “When I found out, I was in tears I was so grateful, I’m still grateful right now. Being able to be recognized for something that I feel like I worked for, I’m still in disbelief.”

All 275 chapters were allowed to nominate just one student for the fellowship. Jamie Fields, Clemons’ first professor and advisor, said Baker nominated Clemons because of her success in the BBA program and her ambitions post-graduation.

“Laconya embodies the characteristics of Sigma Beta Delta—wisdom, honor, and aspirations—and has showcased that during her time here at Baker,” Fields said. “She has achieved success by overcoming challenges through perseverance, growth, and a positive outlook while continuing to focus on her goal of serving humankind—another essential part of the Sigma Beta Delta foundation.”

For Clemons, this award was the perfect end to a successful endeavor. She hopes that her achievements can help inspire not only the children she wishes to help, but anyone who, like her, took the long and hard path to education.

“I have a heart to help and I want to make a difference,” Clemons said. “We’re here to help others, that’s what this life is about, and I just feel like so many people at Baker have helped me, and I want to be in a position where I, too, can help others and plant a seed of hope for them. If I can do that for one child, or one adult, I have accomplished everything.”