Stone Harbor’s Tracy Baker, 42, has seen the worst that people are capable of, and humanity’s best, in a career that has spanned continents and ranged from human services to hard science.
Working with survivors of violent crime in San Diego, she saw the worst. “I couldn’t stay in the job and maintain my sanity,” she said. She changed careers, earning her doctorate in rangeland ecology and watershed management in 2008. Baker has been an assistant professor of environmental sciences at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey since September.
As a single mother in her 30s, Baker did graduate work, mostly in the African countries of Kenya and Ghana, where she studied the impact of human development on water resources. She returns regularly to the continent as a research scientist with the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.
She saw the best of humanity in a place most people would be afraid to visit: the world’s newest country of South Sudan, where she taught and studied for 10 days last December. The size of Texas, the country has fewer than 100 miles of paved roads, most of which are heavily mined because of ongoing wars, she said.
Yet students risked their lives to get an education, she said. They slept in tents near a river where malaria was rampant for the chance to study. They collected items to donate to families in a village where a massacre had taken place.
For most of her time in Africa, her son Colin, now 15, lived with her. She met her husband, Patrick, a biologist who also teaches at Stockton and works at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, while in graduate school, and they worked together in Ghana. The two had son, Shea, 2, soon after returning from Ghana in 2010. Click on this story at www.pressofatlanticcity.com for more on Baker’s work .
The Atlantic City Rotary Club has awarded $10,000 in scholarships to seven students, chosen from applicants from Atlantic City High School, ACHS East and Holy Spirit High School. ACHS students receiving $2,000 each are: Mellisa P. Do, going to Stanford University, Calif., studying biology; Maria Islan, American University in Washington, D.C., international studies; and An V. Le, Rutgers University, environmental and animal science.
Two Holy Spirit students get $1,000 each. They are: Erin Russo, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla., physical therapy; and Amber Worton, Loyola University, Baltimore, Md., marketing/business. ACHS East students Quashawn L. Dorn, undecided; and Angela B. Tucker, Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., communications, will receive $1,000 each.
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