How global experiences impacted his career path
After graduation, Rich Baker ’14 heads to Fiji with the Peace Corps.
This wasn’t his plan when he started as a political science major. He had intended to become a lawyer, but after studying abroad in South Africa and finding a vastly different world there, he re-examined what he wanted out of his career.
“Actually speaking to people on the ground showed me that there was more to life than just the 9 to 5 job and getting a paycheck,” Rich said.
The intersection of cultures and the dynamism of Cape Town drew Rich to study abroad in South Africa. Studying at one of the top 200 universities in the world was also a perk. In fact, one of Rich’s professors, who was part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was helping to write the South African Constitution while she was teaching.
But while the cultural environment and academics were stimulating, it was the experience of working with children in the poorer townships that had the greatest impact: “South Africa made me realize that money was not really what I am looking for in life. I am looking for that feeling that I had there, where I am doing something useful.”
Having previously concentrated on a pre-law trajectory, even taking an internship with Judge Christopher Cerski in his sophomore year, Rich’s volunteer work introduced him to a whole new field of interest in development. With the help of professors such as Dr. Amy Widestrom, with whom he works as a research assistant, Rich designed an academic plan within his political science major, shifting from a law-oriented focus to taking more classes in economics and development. In addition to serving as president and vice-president for Sigma Iota Rho International Studies Honors Society and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society, respectively, Rich is filling his senior year with a thesis exploring microfinance in development before he embarks for a two-year stint in Africa shortly after graduation.
Historical & Political Studies
Easton Hall, Room 231
Dr. Peter Siskind, Dept. Chair