Thornton Academy Postscripts Alumni Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 8

STORY BY KRISSY MAILMAN | PHOTOS COURTESY OF DAVID BAKER From the military to mountain climbing, David Baker ’76 thrives on a challenge David Baker ’76 not only excels when pushing himself to the max, but seeks out the opportunities to do so. Whether he is scaling the highest mountain on two different continents, traveling to Antarctica for a mammal and whale expedition, or keeping our troops safe, David thrives when testing his physical and mental limits. Having spent 24 years in the United States Air Force, David learned early in his career how to problem solve, overcome challenges, and push himself beyond his comfort zone. It was in the military where David acquired leadership skills, which would later play a crucial role in delivering intelligence that protected our troops at war. “As I moved up through the military ranks, I gained not only more technical experience, but also experience in leading people and managing resources. The military was a good teacher and I was lucky enough to have great supervisors, role models, and mentors.” When David left the military, he went into Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) for General Dynamics and was a lead engineer. The purpose of ISR is to aid in the support of rapid and sound decision-making. 8 From exploring the Arctic to hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro (see p. 9) to photographing Mt. Kosciusko in New South Wales, Australia (above), David Baker understands the value of hard work and testing personal limits to lead a fulfilling life. While in this role, David helped redesign a network used to distribute intelligence to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “My role there was to develop new technologies to support the Wing’s global mission.” The Wing is the Air Force leader in globally networked ISR operations. David said his biggest achievement was keeping troops safe. “My work in developing new systems made the delivery of intelligence to ground units in Afghanistan and Iraq faster and more efficient.” After 14 years working in ISR, David is now the Guardian IT Operations Manager. He leads a team of administrators that operates and maintains the system infrastructure that hosts some of a government client’s mission applications. Even though David’s military days are behind him, he hasn’t slowed down. “I always want to test my physical and mental limits with wanting to do the best job I can in a challenging environment. The more strenuous and challenging, the more alive I feel. Reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (highest peak in Africa) in the spring of 2015 was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever accomplished.” That fall, he also went on to hike the highest peak in Australia, Mt. Kosciuszko. David said his drive and ambition stems from his curiosity of always wanting to explore new places and things. His advice to students is to explore the world around them, challenge themselves in the classroom, and apply it to how they can make a difference in the world. “In order to succeed today, students need practical problem-solving skills, the ability to write and communicate effectively, and critical thinking skills. Teachers need to develop practical applications so students see the value and tangible results that have meaning and effect on the world.” David is pleased by all the academic offerings that TA has, especially the wide selection of Advanced Placement courses. It’s David’s hope that students find a guidance counselor or mentor that will help them grow, stretch, and push them beyond their personal limits. “Currently, I’m training to cycle for a 100-miler. I may not reach that goal, but sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination, that is the most fun and rewarding. If you do a challenge and don’t succeed, but you tried, then that in itself is a success.” 9