Christine Baker describes being SU’s top grad as “surreal”
Every year a student with the highest grade point average leads the pool of graduates into the F.G. Clark Activity Center for Southern University's graduation ceremony.
On Friday, May 9, 22-year-old Christine Baker led 589 Southern students into the Mini Dome for the 2014 Centennial Spring Commencement Ceremony. She graduated with a 3.85 GPA.
The DeQuincy, La. native said she was stunned to be named the top grad. "I was surprised. Even though I know that throughout my college career I've tried my best to maintain my grades and do all I can, I didn't realize that I would become the top grad. So it is really amazing," said Baker.
It is amazing as well, she said, because this is something of a gift for her late father. Two years ago, Baker's father lost his battle with prostate cancer. "He wanted me to continue to do my best, so it is a really good feeling to do this for him," said Baker.
"I recently found out that when my dad was younger, he wanted to attend Southern but ended up going a different route," said Baker, making her degree from Southern even more special.
Before arriving at Southern, Baker had never heard of the university. Not until a church member and SU Board of Supervisors member Ann A. Smith introduced Southern to her.
After Baker had been at Southeastern Louisiana University for a summer, she took a visit to "The Bluff" and the rest is history.
"I enjoy the atmosphere, the teachers and the one-on-one interaction you get and the help," said Baker. "It felt like a family here."
The Political Science major said her teachers were a big support during the tough time after her father's passing. She said she was able to jump back into school and maintain her straight A's. She attributes that to the support of her Southern family.
Her motivators through her college career have been her advisors from the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College: Della Perkins, Eric Pugh and Deadra Mackey. She also says her Chair and Professor in the College of Political Science and Criminal Justice Dr. Albert Samuels and the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dr. William Arp.
"God," said Baker, has been the biggest reason she has made it.
Baker's other supporter through her time at Southern and life has been her twin sister, Cathy. They are the youngest of seven and the first in their family to graduate from Southern. She has a brother that graduated from Grambling State University and a sister that started at Northwestern State University, transferred to another university and completed medical school in Texas.
Baker's sister, Cathy, is attending Southern now and majoring in mathematics with a minor in education. She is set to graduate in December of 2014.
As for Baker, she plans to attend Southern's Law Center to get her Juris Doctorate and practice family and criminal law. She is still awaiting word on her application at the Law Center.
Baker knew she wanted to be a lawyer as early as 11 years old. Between her mother watching different court TV shows and seeing the bad representation her eldest brother received when he was in minor trouble as a youth, she realized she wanted to provide the best representation for the young people in her community.
Baker said her family is very proud of her success. "My mom is proud of me and knew I could do it and said that I deserve it," said Baker.
She is going to miss the staff and students most at Southern, said Baker. Still officially the President of the Honor Society for Political Science, Baker plans to continue working with Dr. Arp to make sure the organization continues to operate smoothly.