It is not uncommon for graduation to be not only a time of celebration, but also of reflection, where students remember more than just the books read and the papers written. A diploma awarded serves as a symbol of all the challenges overcome.
For Bumpass resident Amber Baker, a member of Louisa’s graduating class of 2013, there was a lot to remember as she walked across the stage during commencement on Friday, May 24.
She remembers how she felt as a homeless four-year-old girl, wandering the streets of Richmond with her parents while they asked strangers for change. During that time of her life, Baker and her family spent their time bouncing from hotel room to hotel room, and occasionally, from dumpster to dumpster.
Baker also remembers how she felt on the day during her first grade year when she found out that her father had been murdered. Those emotions she endured following his death returned just one month later when her mother was also murdered.
And now, as she departs Louisa as one of the most decorated graduates of the school’s class, Baker not only remembers, but also recognizes, that those hardships are part of what made her the person she is today.
“Once you go through stuff like that, even at a young age, you begin to value people so much,” Baker said. “You value their company, their gifts, and the love and support they can give you. I’ve learned to always look for the beauty in people.”
Lessons like that are what Baker said helped her along the way as she graduated with a 3.96 grade point average and was awarded a $41,000 annual scholarship by New York University. Baker plans to major in education, which is yet another part of her life that was affected by the trials of her past.
Baker described her childhood experience with school – and even the teachers themselves – as less than satisfactory. Due to her unkempt appearance, she said she became an easy target for the condescending remarks of classmates and teachers.
To read the entire story, see the May 30 edition of The Central Virginian.