On Feb. 1, 1991, Krisha Baker earned a Garden City Community College scholarship the day she was born. This fall, as GCCC celebrates 90 years of service to the community, she'll be putting that award to use.
The incoming student, who hopes to become a music teacher, received her $100 allocation when GCCC celebrated National Community College Month by providing the scholarship to the first child born at St. Catherine Hospital in February.
Lots of changes have occurred since then, for GCCC and for the young winner's family, but the incoming freshman has kept her sights set on higher education since first learning about her unique honor at the age of 12.
Today, for instance, Community College Month takes place in April rather than February, and GCCC has grown and adapted with new programs and facilities to meet a variety of evolving needs in the 21st Century.
In fact, the college is planning a community celebration, starting at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13, to mark its 90th anniversary.
The Baker family has grown and adapted, too. The student's father and mother are Brad and Shelia Baker, and in addition to their daughter, they're also now the parents of a pair of sons, Neal, 14, and Andrew, 9. Originally from Scott City, they were married in 1986 and had no idea that when their first child was born five years later, she would come home from the hospital with a scholarship to start her higher education.
"I always assumed I would go to college," the student said in a recent visit to the campus, after pre-enrolling for the 2009 fall semester. "Mom and Dad have always drilled that into me — to be successful, you need to go to college."
She always has planned to start her postsecondary learning in Garden City, and has since settled on Emporia State University as the place to complete her bachelor's degree after graduation from GCCC in 2011.
The incoming student is already an accomplished musician who plays the flute, and can handle a wide range of other woodwind and brass instruments, including trumpet, trombone and saxophone. She even tried out a tuba once, and thinks all of her experiences should help her share a love of music with others.
The rest of the Baker family is musical, too, with both parents among the ranks of GCCC alumni, and the eldest daughter plays in the Garden City Municipal Band.
She graduated in May from Garden City High School, where she served on the staff of the student newspaper, in addition to participating in band and choir, and succeeding since her middle school years in district and state level music competition. She belonged to the history club in high school, too, and an interest in acting led her to take the role of an evil stepsister last winter in the GCCC children's theater production, Cinderella Confidential.
Focus on the future
She'll be entering GCCC fall classes Aug. 19 with all of the following:
Her $100 award, which was created in hopes that the winner would be starting classes during the college's 90th anniversary year.
A Dean's Scholarship, which provides $700 per year, in recognition for being in the top 25 percent of her high school graduating class.
A band scholarship, covering her tuition.
A drama scholarship, which provides her textbooks.
She'll also be entering a college that has a history of helping southwest Kansans — every year since 1919 — as they become positive contributors to society and the economy through essential skills, academic advancement, work preparedness, personal enrichment and workforce development.
At home, she still has a copy of a letter issued by the college 18 years ago, certifying her selection. It reads, in part, as follows:
"Congratulations on earning this special honor.
"GCCC is recognized for strong academic and technical education today in 1991, and expects to be providing valuable learning experiences throughout the 21st Century."
Now, as teacher in the field of music, Krisha Baker will be doing that, too.
Director of Information Services and Publications Steve Quakenbush may be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.