Baker graduate perseveres through difficult times
Adam Barry remembers it as a time when his priorities became crystal clear.
A free safety on Baker University’s football team and an active member of Mungano, Baker’s diversity organization, he was right in the middle of the football season, in mid-October 2008, when he got the call.
His mother, Janice Smith, a single parent who had raised him and his two brothers, was dead at age 50.
“How do we deal with it,” Barry recalled thinking. “How do we, I guess, try to survive through it.”
He returned to San Diego, and took off the spring 2009 semester to take care of his two brothers, Justin, 20, and Keeynan, 17.
He never knew his father — “I never worried about that,” he says, simply, before moving along to another topic. The closest other relatives to the family lived in Chicago.
So it fell to Barry to run the house, pay the bills, cook meals and make sure his two brothers’ clutter didn’t overrun the house.
“They needed me as much as I needed them in the situation,” he said. “We pretty much needed each other to fight through it.”
But this semester he returned to complete the final semester for his bachelor’s degree in business management, after keeping in contact with Baker officials even from home, he said, to ensure he was on track to graduate.
He’s been studying hard for his glut of finals — he’s taking 18 credit hours in his final semester.
As for his future plans, he’ll be headed back to San Diego, probably to San Diego State University, to get a master’s of business administration degree.
He’s been getting nervous, because he’s been applying for jobs without any bites so far.
“I really, really want to work in sports,” he said, probably something in the business side.
He doesn’t get too worked up about not finding a job, though. After all, he’s been through worse.
“Persevere,” he said, when asked if he had any advice for others facing difficult times. “Times are tough now, but they’ll get better.”
Ron Holden, Baker’s director of multicultural affairs, said he sees nothing but success in Barry’s future. The two shared a love of football — Holden is a former Baker player — and frequently talked through Barry’s involvement in the diversity organization.
“Unselfish,” Holden said, searching for just the right way to describe Barry. “That’s the word.”
Holden said Barry’s mother was a source of strength — she would have wanted him to graduate, he said.
“He’s a testament to his mother,” Holden said. “She raised him to be a man and to be able to overcome obstacles.”
When Barry receives his degree on Sunday, he’ll be the first in his family to do so. His brothers will be in attendance, among other friends and family.
Then, it’s back to San Diego for all of them to see Keeynan graduate from high school in June.
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