Several honored for academic achievement during MC's April 12 ceremony

April 17, 2003

Amanda K. Baker, a senior art major from Clinton, Tenn., was named the 2003 Outstanding Senior at Maryville College during the Academic Awards Ceremony held on campus April 12.

Established by the Maryville College Alumni Association in 1974 and first presented in 1975, the Outstanding Senior award recognizes those students whose overall record of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities stand out as most exemplary.

According to Helen Bruner, director of alumni and parent relations at the College, the purpose of the award is to recognize a senior “who has been active in a broad range of activities in college, who exemplifies an ‘ideal’ Maryville College graduate and who has the potential to be an outstanding alumnus/alumna – both as a representative of the College and in his or her service to the institution.”

Baker, the daughter of Debbie Baker of Clinton and Allen Baker of Knoxville, enrolled at Maryville College in 1999, following graduation from Clinton High School.

In presenting his advisee at the April 12 ceremony, Dr. Carl Gombert, associate professor of art, described Baker as an exemplary student, a talented artist and performer and a visible member of the community.

“ Last year, I had the honor of standing here and presenting Amanda Baker as the first-ever recipient of the Ryan Newhouse Award for her contributions in the arts and in business,” Gombert said. “Tonight I have the greater privilege of again standing before you and extolling the virtues of Amanda Baker, a nominee for the Outstanding Senior Award. Whether or not she is named THE Outstanding Senior, she is truly an outstanding person.”

Baker’s list of college activities includes the Academic Integrity Board, the Academic Life Council, the President’s Roundtable, the College’s Non-Profit Leadership Development Program, the Community Choir and Voices of Praise, the MC Dance Team, the Student Programming Board, WZUP radio station and Omicron Delta Kappa. She worked as a conference assistant during the summer of 2001, taught art during a January-Term Kid’s College and assisted new students through the Peer Mentor Program.

Off-campus, Baker interned with the prestigious Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., and the 2002 Foothills Fall Festival in Maryville. During her college career, she also has volunteered with YOKE Youth Ministries and served on Calvary Chapel’s worship team in Knoxville.

Only those seniors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 are considered for nomination for the Outstanding Senior Award. A committee that includes student, faculty and staff representation is given the responsibility of choosing five finalists. Those finalists are invited to respond in writing to questions about their view of their future role as alumni of Maryville College, their goals for the future and their understanding of how the College has influenced them and helped shape those goals.

In her essay, Baker wrote that the College has been “everything that [she has] been about in the past four years.”

“ Maryville has given me my friendships, my knowledge, my experiences and my challenges,” she wrote. “ … I feel that just taking the classes I have taken has given me a wider perspective of the world and the cultures, opinions and conflicts that fill it.

“… My curriculum here has included everything from painting to economics to sculpture to accounting. Throw in world religions and environmental toxicology and my fascination for the world is only just beginning!” she added in the essay. “Maryville College has given me a curiosity to know and the courage to ask.”

Finalists for the Outstanding Senior award included Preston Fields of Knoxville, Tenn.; Rachael Garza of Springfield, Va.; Lois Gray of Shelbyville, Tenn.; and Ben Wicker of Knoxville. For more information on each finalist, read their stories.

As finalists, Fields, Garza, Gray and Wicker were all presented a framed award. Baker was presented a framed award, as well, plus a cash award of $500. Her name will be added to the Outstanding Senior plaque displayed on campus.