Baker Proud Summer 2018 - 18


BAKER PROUD | Summer 2018

The Baker-Oxford connection


McCollum, '18,
headed home for
Baker's winter
break during her senior
year expecting to spend
it the way she always
had: milking cows on her
family's dairy farm and
celebrating her birthday
and Christmas. This time,
though, she was also
waiting for news from the
University of Oxford
Brenda McCollum
in England.
"They emailed me the Wednesday before Christmas,"
McCollum said. "I woke up to the email around 7 a.m.
and saw it was from the University of Oxford's admissions
department. I was crying because I didn't want to open it,
but then I did and I was screaming because it was so cool!"
McCollum has been accepted into the African studies
graduate program at Oxford, one of the most selective
universities in the world.
How does someone from Fall River, Kansas-a town
whose population peaked at 460 in the late 1800s and has
dwindled to nearly double digits at times since-find herself preparing to move to England and study at one of the
world's preeminent educational institutions?
It starts with McCollum's decision to attend Baker
McCollum chose Baker so she could continue her
racewalking career in college. At the junior level, she represented the United States three times at the IAAF World
Race Walking Cup. In the United States, only schools in
the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics offer
competition in racewalking. She signed a letter of intent to
become a Baker Wildcat in October of her senior year in
high school. Four months later, she was named one of two
Harter Scholars, Baker's most prestigious academic award,
and received four years of full tuition.
McCollum started her freshman year as a biology
major, intending to become a veterinarian, but during her
first semester, she realized a biology major wasn't for her.
However, she thoroughly enjoyed her history class taught
by John Richards and changed her major.
After officially becoming a history major, McCollum's
college life gained steam. She took more history classes
and developed a passion for African history. She added a
second major in international studies as well as minors
in political science, religion, and German. She joined the

History Club, Cardinal Key Honor Society, and Baker's
parMentor program; became a member of Delta Delta
Delta sorority; and made her mark on the Wildcat cross
country and track and field teams. McCollum has qualified
for both indoor and outdoor NAIA nationals all four years,
earning All-America honors six times. She placed third at
nationals in May. She is an eight-time Heart of America
Athletic Conference champion and a three-time NAIA

"My professors got me ready academically
because they always pushed me harder
than I wanted to be pushed, but it was
good for me, obviously."
-Brenda McCollum
"The community here gets you ready [for life after
Baker] because it gets you so involved on campus in a lot
of different ways. It really helps you explore who you are
as a person," McCollum said. "My professors got me ready
academically because they always pushed me harder than
I wanted to be pushed, but it was good for me, obviously."
Will Duncan, '12, also feels that his Baker education played a large role in his acceptance to Oxford and
prepared him well to maximize his experience. A math,
music, and international studies major, Duncan earned a
Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy
from Oxford in 2013. He is now working toward a PhD in
economics at the University of Kansas.
"It was clear that Baker had prepared me to live a
mission-driven life, and arriving in Oxford, I had so many
ways in which to fulfill that," Duncan said. "This manifested itself in how I interacted with the other students in my
program, my work with the Oxford Hub-a social enterprise devoted to innovation in the community-and my
support of visiting American undergraduates who were
only going to be in Oxford for a brief period."
Duncan recognizes that while admission to Oxford is a
tremendous honor and a wonderful gift, its impact is measured by how the student contributes and grows because
of the experience.
"So often, when a student receives admission to something prestigious, there is a sense of relief and arrival. To
my way of thinking, this is really not the approach that
will get you the most out of the experience," he said. "So,
I would say, be ready to be challenged, be ready to feel
under prepared, and be ready to work as hard as you have
ever worked in your life."


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baker Proud Summer 2018

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