Bruce Baker may have graduated in 2018, but his time in Olivet is not over. Today, you can find Bruce running around town—literally—with the Olivet High School cross country and track and field teams that he helps coach. Bruce is also the youth pastor of a local church, and there he lives out his primary mission of mentoring and leading kids.
When Bruce found his way to Olivet College, he had not necessarily intended to make a career of working with youth. Bruce initially chose Olivet College to further his running career. He felt he hadn’t reached his potential in high school, so he was eager to prove himself as an athlete in college. “I felt like that experience was really formative for me,” said Bruce. “It gave me a much stronger appreciation for discipline and consistency.” His hard work paid off, and in his senior year, Bruce was the 10k Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference champ in the outdoor track season. He holds the OC 10k record to this day.
As a business student, Bruce expected to enter marketing after earning his undergraduate degree. One thing Bruce decided before graduation was that wherever his career took him, he wanted to work for a company that did good in the world. He learned about social enterprises and how the mission of these businesses would go beyond just making a profit. Bruce said, “I wanted more than a paycheck. I wanted to make a difference in the world, so I didn’t want to work for some company that just slaps social benefit on afterward.”
Rather than go into the corporate world, though, Bruce stayed with the college and worked as a coach and recruiter for the cross country and track and field teams after he graduated. He appreciated his time as an Olivet employee, but full-time collegiate coaching wasn’t his long-term goal. When his local church looked to hire a youth pastor, Bruce eagerly accepted the job. It may not have been a social enterprise, but as Bruce said, “The mission of the church is inherently spiritual and social.”
From a young age, Bruce has enjoyed working with kids. He recalled working in his church nursery when he was 10 years old. He also spent several summers in high school and college working with youth at a summer camp. As a kid, he was involved in soccer, 4-H, and Boy Scouts, all of which seek to shape youth into people of character.
Bruce has thrived in his role at the church. His time as a student and employee of Olivet College helped prepare him in many ways for his career. Most notably, Bruce had many leadership opportunities at the College. In addition to being a captain of the cross country and track and field teams, Bruce was the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as the vice president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. These leadership roles gave him the confidence and experience that propelled him to his current position.
Bruce is currently working on his Master of Divinity degree, which he described as “your standard degree if you want to be a pastor someday.” When he is not coaching or hanging out with the youth group, Bruce spends much of his time “either reading, writing or running.” Once he finishes school, he hopes to start a church in an urban area. For now, Bruce is pouring into the next generation of Olivet youth.
Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or email@example.com.
This feature was written by Savannah Baker, a senior studying English and business. The former editor of Olivet’s literary journal, Garfield Lake Review, Savannah now pursues her interest in writing and editing as a marketing intern with Olivet College.