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Meet Cherryl Baker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cherryl Baker. 

Hi Cherryl, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?

I am the youngest of three girls. My parents are immigrants from the Philippines. My dad joined the U.S. Navy and then, years later, my mom was able to join him in the United States with my two older sisters. I was born in California and moved every three years growing up. I lived in places such as San Jose, San Diego, Hawaii, Spain, and Japan. Moving around and meeting new people and saying goodbye to people was normal for me growing up and for so many military families. School was consistent for me. I knew that wherever I moved to, I’d be in school and that’s where I could meet people, get involved in the things I enjoy, such as sports and student government, and it was going to be ok. School was my safe place.

After graduating from high school in Japan, I moved to San Diego. I hadn’t lived in the United States for many years. Also, my consistent next step was gone. I was done with school now I had to find my next step. Fortunately, I had some family friends who were the same age as me and they were going to community college, so I went with them. I discovered Miramar College in San Diego and I knew I was going to be ok again. I got involved and met with a counselor there. The counselor I met with had a new counselor shadowing her. The new counselor shadowing her was Filipina. It was the first time I saw someone who looked like me working in a school. I was so excited. I met with her and made a plan to transfer. I wasn’t quite sure what to major in but I knew I liked the Psychology classes I was taking. I transferred to UCLA and majored in Psychology with a Specialization in Education. While at UCLA, I had a major but didn’t know what to do with it. I again turned to a counselor and met with him a couple of times to learn more about myself and potential careers I would like. I discovered school counseling and the Community Based Block (CBB) and School Counseling program at San Diego State University (SDSU) and ultimately earned my master’s degree in School Counseling from SDSU.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I have been fortunate in many ways growing up. I had parents who valued education and good friends growing up who also valued education. I was able to seek out and find key people along the way who supported me. Even though I only met with those counselors at Miramar College and UCLA a few times, they were extremely helpful. Some of the struggles along the way were financial insecurity and doubts. I went to school full time and worked many jobs as student. I benefited from grants, scholarships, and loans. I learned to lean into my discomfort and get to know my voice, despite the unknown and any worries I had.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a school counselor. I have been a public high school counselor for over 20 years.

I did not apply to any colleges when I was in high school. I did not know anything about searching for college or careers or financial aid. I did not know what I was supposed to be doing, and, at the time, I didn’t know that I didn’t know.  I was just going about my day to day life. One of the main reasons I became a school counselor was to demystify the college search process, application process, and the financial aid process.  Another reason I became a school counselor is to provide equity and access to information and resources, whether it be for academics, college, career, or personal/emotional resources.

School counselors support the diverse and holistic needs of all students by being proactive, social justice leaders in their school communities.
School counselors support all students in three areas of development: Academic, College and Career, and Social-Emotional

School counselors collaborate with families, teachers, administrators, nurses, learning specialists, community organizations, and mental health providers. School Counselors are certified/licensed educators who improve student success for ALL students by implementing a comprehensive school counseling program.

I am most proud of all the students the families and fellow educators I have been able to connect with over the years. Watching students grow and learn and being there for them unconditionally is such an honor. When I work with a student and they feel safe, seen, and understood, it is the most rewarding thing in the world. I am proud to be part of a team of hard working and genuinely caring educators. I collaborate and consult with them daily and we are a family who wants the best for all our kids.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memories were whenever my dad would come home from being out to sea or stationed somewhere for several months at time. It was so emotional on those days. I remember seeing my dad walk off the ship and he was alive and healthy, Seeing my mom and sisters so happy, too. I remember seeing the strangers around me, young and old reunite. To this day, if you want to see me cry, show me one of those military reunion videos! Those get me every single time! I also have special memories of when it was just my mom and me. She would take me shopping and she always had cards in her nightstand to write my dad with. I remember writing to him and putting sticks of gum in my letters to him. My parents came to this country with nothing and I can only imagine what they endured in order for my sisters and I to have the education and opportunities this country has. I will always remember and be grateful to my parents for everything.

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