Emily Baker is armed with a voracious appetite for reading and the encouragement of her parents to not only look over words on the pages but also to digest and understand them.

With that kind of background, learning isn’t so much a chore as it is a passion.

“My parents always pushed me to learn more, and I’ve always been very interested just in learning,” the Big Spring High School senior said. “I really enjoyed doing labs and figuring out stuff by myself, and taking theoretical things and putting them into real life.

“The only place I see I can satisfy that, I think, is doing research,” she added.

That’s why Baker is applying to study biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Drexel University, Widener University and Johns Hopkins University.

She’s taking her studies so seriously this year that she decided not to play for the softball travel team she’s been a part of for the last few years. However, she is still playing for the school, where she’s been on the varsity team for all four years of high school.

“I wanted to make school a priority, but I’m still playing for the school,” she said. “I’ve played softball since second grade, so it’s just always been a part of my life. I like the team, being part of a team. It’s like a little family.”

At this time, Baker doesn’t see herself playing softball in college. She’s just focusing on her schoolwork. It’s a heavy load taking four AP classes and one honors class, but she said, while difficult, it can be done.

“I really enjoy it,” Baker said. “As much work as it is, I really enjoy the content, and I like the classes. It’s really interesting, which helps me do all the homework. It can be a lot of outside work, some classes require more than others, but it’s definitely manageable in my opinion.”

Managing may be putting it lightly.

Baker currently has 4.33 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. That number ranks her second in her class of 219 other students.

Baker’s guidance counselor, Jocelyn Kraus, said that during her time with the student, she’s come to know her as “powerfully gifted, deeply humble and incredibly mature.”

When not in school or on the diamond, or at work — Baker is a caterer at Dickinson College — she reads, and she reads a lot, both in fiction and non-fiction. Her parents, she said, “enforced issues of respecting and learning and told me I can do what I want to do.”

Because of that, Baker said she’s constantly asking questions, helping others and trying to “understand things, not just memorize them.”

Most importantly, Baker said she knows where she’s going and believes, at this time, she knows how to navigate the road to get there.

“I’m proud of where I am.”

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