Jennifer Baron Leads By Example On Campus and Off
Wilkes University senior Jennifer Baron leads by example both in the classroom teaching middle school students and greeting hundreds of first-year students on campus as orientation coordinator.
Baron aimed to create the same positive experience for the Class of 2021 at orientation that she has received at Wilkes. It’s the experience that has helped bring her out of her shell and shape her future.
“Freshman year I didn’t talk. If you told me freshman year that I would be in front of the entire freshman class giving a speech at orientation—that wouldn’t have been the case,” she says.
The English and secondary education dual-major now leads across campus as the orientation coordinator, a resident assistant, the secretary of Kappa Delta Pi the education honor society, the senior class Student Government representative and the Student Development intern. Baron says it took encouragement to forge her path.
“It took a lot of people going out of their way to approach me about opportunities,” Baron says. “I definitely, when I came here, was not the person to seek out opportunities at all. Freshman year, Val Woods ’17 was my RA and she was the one who said I would be good at these things-- being a mentor, being an RA-- and she pushed me to apply to be that.” Baron added that the final encouragement came from her professors and peers in the education department to expand her circle and show off all she could do.
The connection Baron made with her peers and the faculty and staff at Wilkes has been important to her success, starting before she even had her acceptance letter admitting her to Wilkes.
“I only came to one open house here and never even did a campus tour. I met Dr. (Thomas) Hamill (associate professor of English) and Dr. (Lawrence) Kuhar (associate professor of English) and I was in a presentation with the education department and fell in love with it right there.”
Though Baron never anticipated she would find her home at Wilkes prior to that open house, she was familiar with the school. She participated in Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science in high school, where she received a scholarship to Wilkes after winning first place at the regional competition her senior year.
Once on campus, Baron quickly realized that caring and mentorship was going to be a large part of her experience at Wilkes and a philosophy she could take with her into the classroom.
While studying to be an English teacher, Baron also takes her teaching experience into the world of higher education where she has been able to put her skills to use serving as an e-mentor to first-year students which led to her internship with Student Development. That internship gave her the opportunity to work as the orientation residence coordinator in the summer of 2016 and in summer 2017, the overall orientation coordinator.
“When it came time to apply (for orientation coordinator), I realized Student Development gave me the skill set I need through my internship to wrangle all these freshman and get them to listen and plan these activities for them so that they could start their experience here on the right foot,” Baron said.