Maia Baskerville ’17 has been chosen as the student speaker for Wells' 2017 Commencement ceremonies. A Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major from Montgomery, N.Y., Maia is known both for her skilled work in the sciences, participation in exceptional collaborative research experiences, and involvement in many organizations and opportunities across campus. Following her Wells degree, Maia will begin a Ph.D. program in microbiology at Yale School of Medicine.
“My favorite people to question [in the sciences] were always the laboratory technicians,” Maia said, “who were the only people who could explain the biochemical processes underlying the various diseases they were testing for. After seeing the rainbow of bacteria and fungi that grew on my agar plate after a random sampling of nearby classroom surfaces, my path into the field of microbiology research was clear.”
As an undergrad, Maia has demonstrated the ability and dedication to thrive in a research environment. She was an undergraduate research fellow at SUNY Upstate Medical University; completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) with Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science; and has participated in the Rural Health Immersion Program at River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. She’s also mentored her fellow students as a teaching assistant for chemistry and microbiology courses and as a chemistry peer tutor.
“My cultural vantage point as a first-generation college student as a black woman has shifted dramatically,” Maia said, “as I have attended talks in science and all disciplines hosted overwhelmingly by women and people of color. I have discovered that in the realm of scientific research, individuals that look like me aren’t necessarily as rare of an occurrence as I once feared.”
Maia’s also pursued an impressively varied student experience outside of the laboratory. She has represented her class on Wells’ Community Court and contributed to Wells’ Book Worms, Red Cross, and baking clubs, the Campus Greens environmental group, and Henry’s VIIIs a capella music group. In 2016, she was invited to present her research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. In recognition of her academic achievement, Maia was named to the Dean’s List every semester of her undergraduate career and was recently chosen for induction into the Wells chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
“Now that I am in some of my last days at my beloved Wells…I want to show my professors how they’ve shaped my growth, my parents how their words of encouragement have led me here, my peers how far we’ve come, and young black girls how far they can go,” Maia shared.
Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, on the lawn and steps of Macmillan Hall in Aurora, N.Y. In the event of inclement weather, proceedings will be held in the newly-renovated Frances Tarlton Farenthold Wing of the Schwartz Athletic Center. Additional information, a schedule, and more can be found at wells.edu/about/commencement.