Elk River, Minnesota
What advice would you give new students?
Describe life at Drury.
What are some of your favorite places in Springfield?
Making Friends. Being A Leader. Helping Others.
This is what junior Dwight Baker has learned to do in his three years at Drury. As a student-athlete, Dwight splits his time between learning complicated physics formulas and making a splash as a member of Drury's national champion swimming and diving team.
Winning In the Pool and In the Classroom
While winning is great - and trust us, winning is something our national champion swimming & diving teams know a lot about - Dwight says the real reward for his efforts in the pool come from the support of his teammates and the Drury community.
"My fondest Drury memory would be hoisting up the trophies for [swimming and diving] national championships," he says. "That's the best feeling I've had. I had scholarship offers to D-I schools. I came here because on my recruiting trip I saw the teamwork and the chemistry between everybody on the team. You've got to go where your heart is. The numbers D-I and D-II don't really matter. You've got to go with what feels right."
And while being a student athlete is a big time commitment, Dwight's teammates are always there to help. In fact, he spends time with many of them outside the pool in campus organizations like Society for Physics Students and Habitat for Humanity. And beyond his teammates, Dwight looks to his favorite professor, Dr. Brant Hinrichs, for the tools to solve challenging physics equations in the classroom. "If you ask him a question he'll never answer you directly. He'll make you figure it out on your own, but he'll guide you and so you always figure it out."
Discovering Opportunities for Leadership
Dwight is a busy guy, but in his time away from the pool and classroom, he serves as a resident assistant and leader for freshmen and sophomores. "They come to me with their issues and problems and they look up to me," he says. "I'm always there to help and that's a very gratifying feeling. At Drury we don't just do our homework, everything is done in groups. You get to know a lot of people and you make a ton of friends. I'm getting on a personal level with a lot of people and learning how to relate."
So as an athlete, a scholar and a campus leader, what advice does this Minnesota native give to new students? Dwight tells his new freshmen residents to get involved on campus as early as possible. "They'll hear it a million times to get involved, but it's the best advice. It makes you the most friends, it gets you things to put on your resume, and it provides opportunities that you wouldn't have without it.
Dwight is a member of Drury's Habitat for Humanity group which builds houses for people in need. In 2010, Missouri State University and Drury's Habitat for Humanity groups came together to remodel the inside of a house, hosting fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money for the house. "When we opened the house they were so happy. There were tears everywhere. They were so thankful to have a house that was provided for them because they were really in need and now they have a place to live."
And while leaving home to come to college can be difficult, Dwight says the experience has been very rewarding.
"Don't be afraid to get away from home," he says. "I'm 650 miles away from my house. There's Skype, telephones, airplanes, cars - and you can always get home if you need to. So don't be afraid to branch out."