Gabriel Baker ’20

Gabriel Baker

Late into the collegiate football recruiting season for the class of 2020, Mark Speckman gave me a call to see if I would give him and Lawrence University a chance after he took over the football program in 2015. Coach Speckman was a personal inspiration since starting high school through his ability to “Figure It Out” and persevere through any adversity regardless of situation or circumstance. After visiting Wisconsin for the first time in my life and meeting my future mentor, Jackson Straughan, and the track and field head coach, Jason Fast, I knew Lawrence was where I belonged. While my mother was horrified to send her only son to a university in the heart of, at the time, “The #1 Drunken City in the Nation”, my adventure began by being welcomed into the 123rd football team in Lawrence University history. Although the team at many times was one play away from changing history for Lawrence football, my purpose at Lawrence went far beyond the football field as one called to lead regardless of circumstance and uphold my commitments beyond expectations. The call to leadership, amplified by my mentors and coaches, fostered a passion of extreme ownership as I would join and steward multiple steward organizations each year at Lawrence.

During my time at Lawrence, my most cherished memories were setting the Lawrence University Indoor Track and Field Weight Throw record in honor of God and my mentor, earning 2nd Team All-Conference honors in football alongside All-Academic Honors in both football and track, all while establishing CORE, Champions of Change, and the Lawrence Christian Fellowship as key development opportunities to transition Lawrentians to their highest potential. These achievements captured everything I held dearly, most stand to this day, which serve as a legacy of selfless ambition to serve others in faithful obedience and stewardship. Beyond the titles and accolades, Lawrence was also where I was the most challenged and went through the greatest hardships. From heartbreak, career-ending injury, and tempting distractions, Lawrence never failed to house immaculate counsel across multiple areas of campus. Wherever I fell short, grace was nearby as compassionate peers, professors, and staff who went above and beyond without hesitation to empower me in my personal development.

Today, I am asked whether Lawrence University made me who I am today, or if I would have found success regardless of where I attended, but the product of the two is self-evident. From the vast exposure to leadership opportunities, brilliant peers, and cherished moments waiting around every corner, I was able to accelerate my personal growth from the well-earned wins and lessons learned. Simply attending Lawrence University will not guarantee one’s vocational or personal success, but those who are willing to bear risk, relentlessly pursue what they love, and take complete ownership over their development will find spending their undergraduate career at Lawrence to be a fruitful endeavor. Lawrence has equipped me with the skills, perspectives, and confidence required to make an impact through the service of those around me. I am confident in our ability as the LUAA to uphold and innovate upon the foundational truths the university was established upon and produce future Lawrencians who are known for their impact and selfless servitude.