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Archive for Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Graduating senior Justin Morello credits Baker University’s ‘small-school atmosphere’ for helping him succeed

Having spent his childhood in large cities and schools, Justin Morello opted four years ago to enroll at Baker University because of the small-school, small-town atmosphere the campus offered. He now credits that atmosphere for a successful undergraduate career, which included an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Having spent his childhood in large cities and schools, Justin Morello opted four years ago to enroll at Baker University because of the small-school, small-town atmosphere the campus offered. He now credits that atmosphere for a successful undergraduate career, which included an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

May 18, 2011

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2011 Baker graduates

A complete list of 2011 Baker graduates. Filter the list alphabetically from A to Z by name and degree.

  • Baker University is honoring more than 700 graduates this spring.
  • The traditional baccalaureate service will be at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Baldwin City.
  • At 1 p.m. Sunday the ceremony will be held for 174 undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing and School of Education. Hoot Gibson, chairman of Baker’s Board of Trustees, is the keynote speaker for the undergraduate ceremony on May 22. Gibson, a 1973 Baker graduate, spent his entire professional career in the insurance industry, serving 25 years as president of Midwest Builders’ Casualty, one of the region’s largest providers of worker’s compensation coverage to the commercial construction industry in the region. His daughter, Emily, is a member of the Class of 2011.
  • The School of Education will honor 188 graduate students at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Tom VanSickle, who has a had a career in politics, law, real estate development and property management, will address School of Education graduate students on May 22. He served on the Baker Board of Trustees Last Saturday, the School of Professional and Graduate Studies recognized 183 undergraduates and 196 graduate students.

— Baker University senior Justin Morello was not used to a small-school or small-town atmosphere.

Morello spent nine years in Cologne, Germany, which is home to nearly 1 million people, and graduated from Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park. While also considering attending the University of Florida, which would seem to fit the large-school trend, Morello chose Baker. He was the only one from his high school to do so. This week as he awaits graduation from the small, private Methodist school, Morello credits Baker with opening up doors that might have stayed closed had he gone to a bigger school.

“I wanted to be more in the small-school atmosphere,” Morello said. “I think that really, really, helped me out, and I don't think I would be as successful if I chose to go to a university where you're one of the numbers.”

Along with majoring in chemistry, Morello was a tutor, member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, where he was the vice president and grand master of ceremonies, and was involved with the ParMentors organization.

“I knew that was part of being in a small school, you had the opportunity to kind of get your feet wet in a number of different things, but I really didn't know to the extent,” Morello said.

Morello had a connection to Baker before stepping on campus. Terri Blake, Baker's senior associate director of admissions, is Morello's stepmother. Blake said she was thrilled to hear Morello was going to become a Wildcat.

“His dad and I are really proud of him because he was able to have a lot on his plate and still be extremely successful in the classroom,” Blake said.

But it was another Baker connection that last summer landed Morello in New Mexico. One of Morello's professors had a connection to Los Alamos National Laboratories, and Morello was able to secure an internship there. Los Alamos is well-known for being the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Morello also worked in the same building that housed former President Ronald Reagan's Star Wars project. To protect the work going on in the buildings, security is at a high, including the laboratories' own special forces units patrolling the outside of the base.

“It's an incredible place and a lot of ground-breaking research is done at this institution,” Morello said.

The scientist Morello worked for even offered him a full-time job doing research for her for a year. Morello credits Baker for giving him that opportunity.

“I would not have been able to do that, I couldn't even have dreamed of being able to go out there and having the opportunity to do that, but Baker allowed me to do it,” Morello said.

Still somewhat undecided on his future, Morello turned down the job and instead is setting his sights on medical school. He plans to take the MCAT this summer and enter medical school in the fall.

“He's a hard worker. He's very dedicated,” Blake said. “He'll be successful no matter what he does.”

As Morello prepares for graduation Sunday in Collins Center — and then the next step in his life — he does not regret his decision to attend Baker and would choose to be a Wildcat all over again.

“I think I've made some great choices and I've made some mistakes, but I think everyone's done that and it's all part of the experience,” Morello said. “I think that's the best way to put it. You take the ups with the downs and you just run with it.”

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