The Importance In Finding Support of Communities Like…Selma

In order to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of The Clarion, we will be bringing you the voices of alumni who have written for the school newspaper, reflecting on their experience in Clarion and life beyond high school.


Lisa Baker, Class of ’99

Lisa Baker

Wow, 24 years since I left SHS! I can’t believe it. I think back on SHS and my days at the Clarion fondly. I always have since the day I left high school back in 1999. I have lived most of my post-SHS life in New York City, a very different environment, though I recently moved to a more rural area an hour north of the city and am happy to be in a small town setting once again (my current town is much smaller than Selma, with less than 12,000 residents). What I remember and cherish most about working at the Clarion, and about SHS in general, was the degree of support and good will in the community. SHS was full of friendly faces, full of committed staff that cared about us and delighted in helping us succeed, and my classmates were incredibly accepting and supportive of one another. This is the best environment for learning, growing, and living! I hope that many SHS students today also feel this way.
Since high school, I uprooted myself multiple times and lived and worked in different types of communities. I studied religion at a liberal arts college for several years in Minnesota before coming to New York City to do a dance program, and I explored several different career paths in my twenties before finally deciding to go to graduate school to get my doctoral degree in biomedical research in my thirties. I’ve lived in at least 12 different apartments or houses since leaving high school. With all the moving around and changing course, perhaps it’s not surprising that when I look back on my days in Selma, the feeling of being rooted in a supportive community is what I think about first. That was a gift, and nowadays, I look for ways to pay it forward. I think about how I can better cultivate and nurture the various communities I belong to now: how can I care for those around me and bring the supportiveness and kind-heartedness I found in Selma into these communities? Sometimes it’s an easy, almost effortless task. Other times it’s felt more challenging, requiring conscious effort and shifting around my routine and priorities a bit.
Technological advancements, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have made this feel like even more of an imperative. I used to be physically near my work colleagues five days a week, and since the pandemic hit, I interact with them primarily through virtual meetings and text messages, while spending most of my working hours alone. Twenty years ago, the primary way relationships were cultivated was face-to-face, and now much of this is done electronically, via email and social media. The ways we connect and build community have shifted rapidly, which makes me wonder how different things might be for you current SHS students when you reach my age. As you move forward from high school and contend with whatever changes and challenges arise, my wish for you is that you always find ways to keep yourself grounded in communities that are nurturing, which help you to grow and be happy and through which you can help others to grow and be happy. It’s a simple wish, but such communities may not always be so easy to find and maintain, and they are key to living life well!

Lisa Baker graduated from Selma High School in 1999, and attended college first at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where she majored in Religion, before withdrawing to attend a professional dance program at The Ailey School in New York. She later transferred to Hunter College (New York, NY) to get her BA in Biology and Religion, and then received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She now works as a scientist at a biotech company called MicroCures, which develops therapeutics to accelerate wound healing after injury.