Baker Edition: Baker graduates first Kauffman Foundation Scholar
Baker University celebrated a milestone during May commencement as Kaleb Berry became the first Kauffman Foundation Scholar to graduate from Baker. The Kansas City, Kan., native earned a Bachelor of Science degree while majoring in computer science.
The scholarship program provides opportunities to low-income students in the public or charter schools in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., to complete a college education. Berry, a 2011 graduate of Schlagle High School, had participated in the program since middle school. He was mentored through high school to prepare for college and participated in Baker’s five-week Summer Bridge program in the summer of 2011 to help transition into university life.
“I liked the small environment of the Baldwin City campus,” Berry said. “I liked the smaller classes, and that the community and professors get to know you. The bridge program let me know that to expect in college.”
Berry earned six credit hours in the bridge program. He also learned to enhance his communication and time management skills.
“The Kauffman program looks out for the students’ best interests,” he said. “You have to stay on track and follow the guidelines they establish. The Baker faculty, staff and students provided me the resources I needed to succeed.”
Carrie Coward Bucher, Quest program chair and director of honors program, directs the bridge program. She immediately was struck four years ago by Berry’s high intellectual ability and genuine, kind spirit.
“He was one of those students who made a strong first impression on adults,” she said. “He took himself and his future seriously, worked very hard to be successful. We knew he was going to make a great contribution to Baker. One thing that really impressed me about Kaleb is how hard he worked. He is very determined, tough kid and it was really fun to watch him flourish on campus, joining a fraternity, and finding success in his studies.”
Berry embraced everything Baker had to offer inside and outside the classroom. He was a member of Zeta Chi fraternity, Baker SERVES and various bands. He also served as vice president of Active Minds.
The graduate also benefitted form excellent IT and sales internship opportunities with Cerner, Youth Friends, Ralph Lauren and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“Those were very important in my pursuit of securing an IT job in the Kansas City area,” Berry said. “I feel my niche is community software. I want to work on creating a foundation of community-based software where people collaborate.”
Berry served as a role model for the 10 freshmen Kauffman Scholars enrolled at Baker in 2014-2015.
“We are pleased with the legacy that Kaleb is leaving,” Coward Bucher said. “We have a strong partnership with Kauffman. He will serve as an example of collegiate success for others coming through the amazing program and is evidence of what we can achieve when we work together.”