Student Profile: Chelsea Baker '15

Dec 27, 2023
Chelsea Baker, class of 2015, leans against a white doorway. She is wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt and glasses. She's smiling directly at the camera while an out-of-focus hallway is in the background.

Chelsea Baker '15

After realizing she always wanted to be a teacher, Chelsea Baker ‘15 graduated from Westfield State with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She also earned her teaching certificate for math in grades 5-8 and has continued to teach while studying for her master’s of education. When initially exploring colleges, Baker recalled spending “countless hours” at her kitchen table, sifting through various programs and universities with her mother. 

Over time, they both realized that Westfield State was the right choice for Baker, as it had “the best education program” out of those they researched. “You can’t beat the price,” Baker said. Because she lived in Westfield, she commuted to and from school as well, and would alternate spending evenings on campus alongside her friends and then at home.

Currently, Baker works at the Westover Job Corps Center in Chicopee, which she described as “unique”. Although the Center is designed for people ages 16-24, students can attend classes there to learn trades, enhance their reading and math skills, and even earn their high school diplomas.

“It was really cool to come back six or seven years later and see my professors again,” Baker said about returning to Westfield State. “It’s nice because you get to know them, and they can help you.”

She also reflects on how the pandemic affected her return in 2020, stating that most of her classes were online, prompting her to collaborate with her professors on how best to navigate the situation. In addition to having small classes, Baker describes having “a lot of fun” with her classmates due to the ample amount of time collaborating.

The professors she’s had have also helped to enhance her post-undergraduate experiences at Westfield State, with Christine von Renesse as Baker’s advisor. “I’m not the fastest person when it comes to picking up difficult math,” Baker said. “But, she’s always made me feel confident. I always talk about this with my students at school too… just because you don’t get it right away doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It just takes a little more sometimes, and that’s okay. Renesse always made me feel like it was okay to take my time if I wasn’t getting the material right away.”

Because of the demands of her full-time job, Baker takes one class at a time. She’s recently studied the applications of math, which deals with the practicality and utilization of math in real-world scenarios. She also finds the exploration of the various kinds of teaching methods and practices helpful, as it allows her to develop her skillset in the way that’s right for her job. 

Part of that, Baker said, is emulating the professors she admires in her daily life. “You can always learn more about how to be a better teacher from those who are doing it best,” she said. Being able to converse with other teachers who are also in the graduate program… there’s a wealth of information, whether they’re faculty, staff, or a student.”