Sobek wins Milan-Harris award

Story by Nathalia Barr, Managing Editor

On a campus of roughly 900 students, diversity can seem hard to find. Senior Ben Sobek stands out among the crowd – and he now has the award to prove it. Sobek was chosen to receive the 2015 Milan-Harris Award for Promoting Diversity. Sobek is an openly gay man who embraces diversity.

“I think a white male winning a diversity award is an interesting occurrence,” Sobek said. “However, even though I’m gay, I have it easier than most people do, and diversity can mean so many things.”

While writing his essay for the award, Sobek reflected on his personal journey at Baker. Over the past four years, he has become comfortable talking about his sexuality. As a Spanish/French major, and German minor, Sobek’s studying other cultures added to his love and respect for diversity. This year Sobek and sophomore Brittney Harmon co-founded the Total Equality Alliance, an organization that helps teach students about LGBT equality and diversity.

“I want Baker to be a place where people can come to terms with their sexuality and be comfortable with themselves,” Sobek said. “Learning to love yourself and not spending energy hiding who you are is one of the most powerful things.”

The Milan-Harris Award is named after Jesse Milan, a former professor at Baker, and Manny Harris, an assistant professor of Spanish, both of whom founded Mungano, Baker’s student-run diversity organization.

Professor of Biology Darcy Russell knew Milan very well, and she thinks that the Milan-Harris Award is one of the most special awards given to Baker students.

“The whole ethos of Jesse Milan was to encourage people to appreciate the uniqueness of everyone else,” Russell said. “And (Sobek) is the perfect candidate for this award.”

Sobek is a “true scholar and role model,” Russell said. She thinks that Milan created Mungano to show a larger, inclusive sense of diversity, rather than a narrow black-and-white portrayal. Russell believes that, because of all his work and experiences at Baker, Sobek deserves to be praised and this award is perfect for him.

Freshman Taylor Swartzendruber said she looks up to Sobek as a leader and believes him to be deserving of this award.

“He is always willing to get to know someone and make them feel included, and he is a great representation of our school.” Swartzendruber said.

After receiving the award, Sobek said he was excited and grateful. He believes that he has evolved as a person, and believes that it is because of his experiences at Baker.