Five graduates were named Outstanding Seniors at the May 22 Commencement ceremony at Liston Stadium. Victoria Aceves-Power, Melissa, Texas; Jesse Gardner, Moran, Kansas; Dylan Kort, Dallas, Texas; Cheleia Marshall, Olathe, Kansas; and Jasmine White, Garnett, Kansas.
“The Outstanding Senior award recognizes those graduates who exhibit superior achievement. We had a wide field from which to choose,” said Dr. Cassy Bailey, dean of students. “Nominations are reviewed and decided on by faculty, staff, coaches, and students. These five students exhibited excellence in academics, demonstrated leadership, and authentically displayed Baker’s mission and values.”
“The members of the psychology department have watched her grow in confidence in her talents as a scholar during the past year, moving from being a student of psychology to a psychologist. She is exactly the kind of scholar we want entering students to grow into,” said a nominator about Aceves-Power, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in psychology. She was an active member and leader in Zeta Tau Alpha and the Panhellenic Council and served as a University Admissions Assistant and captain for the women’s soccer team.
“Baker has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I hope that my legacy at Baker is that all individuals should have an open mind to the experiences that Baker offers you,” Aceves-Power said.
“Anything Jesse sets her mind to she will complete and not only complete but do a beautiful job. She is kind, thoughtful and gives her all to every event. Jesse has a strong voice when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” said a nominator for Gardner, who graduated with an interdisciplinary studies major in music and sociology. Among the many activities she was involved in are leadership roles in Symphonic Band, Total Equality Alliance, BRAVE, and Student Activities Council.
“I know that years from now, I will still be connected to my professors, and I love that thought. The support I have felt at Baker is life changing, and it did change my life for the better,” Gardner said.
“Dylan is the embodiment of what it means to bleed Orange and Blue through his dedication to student organizations and his commitment to other students’ experiences. Dylan is a selfless leader who sacrifices time, energy, and sleep on a regular basis to provide for others,” a nominator said about Kort, who majored in communication studies. He served as president of Zeta Chi, the senior class, and Student Activities Council and was a University Admissions Assistant.
“I would like to claim that the legacy, the significant improvement I leave behind which is identifiable, is found in all the people who I had the pleasure of working with or for during my four short years,” Kort said.
“I have gotten to know Cheleia very well, and I can confidently say that she exhibits every desirable leadership quality. Cheleia represents the many activities she is involved in at Baker in an extremely positive manner and personifies what it means to be an active student at Baker University,” said one of Marshall’s nominators. Marshall majored in public health and was active in Mungano, Kauffman Scholars, Baker Serves, and Public Health Student Association and served as a University Admissions Assistant. She was also captain of the dance team for two years.
“I truly believe that if I had attended a different university, I would not be the phenomenal woman I am today. Not only did Baker University mold me into a person who can think critically, communicate effectively, act ethically, serve generously, and live fully, Baker taught me to be unapologetically authentic,” Marshall said.
“Jasmine is not only the student body president, but she is constantly trying to make sure the student body’s concerns are voiced to the people that matter. Jasmine constantly swims upstream to fight for what the Baker students want, and that’s not a job everyone could do,” said a nominator for White, who majored in biochemistry and graduated Cum laude. She was active in a variety of campus organizations, including Mungano and Student Senate, where she held various leadership positions, including executive president for two years. She also served as a Baker Experience peer mentor.
“No matter how much I’ve changed Baker, Baker has changed me such much more. This environment facilitated the growth of myself as a leader, a friend, and a listening ear,” White said.
Starting next year, the Outstanding Seniors will receive a cash award. This is made possible through a gift from the Class of 2021. The class raised money to establish the Outstanding Senior Endowed Fund. Each year at commencement, the Class of 2021 will be recognized for their generosity.
Congratulations to these outstanding seniors and all of our 2021 graduates.