Michelle Henry, Louisburg, Kansas, and Conner Petty, Lenexa, Kansas, are the 2019 recipients of the Fran Jabara Leadership Award, presented during the May 19 Commencement ceremony. The award is named for renowned Wichita educator and entrepreneur F.D. (Fran) Jabara, a lifelong proponent of recognizing and promoting excellence in leadership. It recognizes a male and female graduating senior from each participating private university in Kansas and includes a $1,000 award.

“On behalf of the selection committee, I am happy to congratulate Michelle and Conner,” said Dr. Judy Smrha, chair of the Department of Business and Economics. “Their academic excellence, engagement with student organizations, and career potential distinguished them for this award.”


Henry, who majored in business and graduated summa cum laude, served as an NAIA student ambassador for the American Red Cross. She also served as vice president of recruitment for the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and the Panhellenic Council.

“Baker has blessed me with knowledge that I’m sure I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else,” Henry said. “It has challenged and improved upon my understanding of the business world. I have gained confidence through presenting my opinions and leading a team.”


Petty, who majored in business and graduated magna cum laude, participated in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the Interfraternity Council, serving both as president. He also spent a year as executive vice president of the Student Senate.

“I came to Baker as a shy, timid individual. I am leaving with a confidence that was instilled through strong communication and the belief that I can accomplish anything on a personal and professional level in a global city,” said Petty, who has accepted a job in New York City.

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