For her Co-op, she is a Quality Engineer at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, a medical device company. Baker works with suppliers and customers to ensure the quality of the products.
“I love everything about my Co-op. I get to problem-solve and meet new people every day,” she said. “I am able to learn and grow within my position, and my team is extremely welcoming and encouraging.”
This year, she’ll also wrap up her responsibilities as America’s Teen Sweetheart with photo shoots for sponsors Swim by KC and STS Nation and volunteering with various organizations, including Charity: Water, which provides clean water to people around the world, and Angel Tree and Prison Fellowship, which works the children and families of prisoners to help meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. She’ll also continue spreading her message of positive living—living for yourself and not society, family or friends.
“As long as it’s positive and it’s going to uplift you, go for it,” Baker said. “You can reach those crazy dreams—even though no one thinks you can— if you put the work behind it. So being that role model for younger girls, for other teens, to show them that they can achieve their dreams, that they can do it, that is one of the best feelings. I’ve already had a few people come up and say they’re going to compete in pageants because they saw me do it and I looked like them, and they never saw someone like them on TV. So knowing that I’m making that change and helping people realize their dreams and go for it is one of the most rewarding feelings.”
Baker is the second America’s Teen Sweetheart, a contest that focuses on body positivity, charity, service and leadership.
“It’s very much about the whole girl. When you say pageantry, you think beauty pageants, and it’s very looks-based, and that whole stigma is shifting,” Baker said. “You can have brains and beauty and do pageantry.”
She said winning was exciting and scary because it’s such a large platform.
“It’s a wonderful organization. Just the feeling of knowing I was able to win this pageant being a bigger girl and being a girl in STEM, those are things you don’t think mix. People are always asking, ‘Why are you in pageants if you’re an engineering student?’ and things to that extent,” Baker said.
For her future in pageantry, she’s unsure if she’ll move on to America’s Miss Sweetheart pageant. She has some time to decide, though, because she won’t be eligible to compete in that pageant until 2024.
For her engineering future, Baker hopes to add a business major and start a company that designs, develops and manufactures toys, tools and technologies for people with special needs with a focus on classroom development.
“I believe people with disabilities have these beautiful minds and wonderful ideas, but we’re not really giving them the opportunity to showcase it,” she said.
Baker is proud of her achievements and excited for her future. She hopes her story inspires others too.
“I love proving people wrong,” she said, “because it shows other people that they’re also able to achieve their dreams no matter what anyone says.”