"I was first introduced to the Baker family in my sixth-grade band class, when I met Dr. Baker’s daughter, Maddie. We sat across from each other in the woodwind section and instantly became great friends. We remained close friends throughout middle and high school and eventually became the co-captains of our high school band together. Maddie always talked highly of her father, particularly about his job as a neurologist. She would always tell stories about the life-changing impact he was making on his patients and their families. These stories were corroborated by Dr. Baker’s reputation in Naples as one of the most knowledgeable and caring physicians in the area. Maddie and I both dreamed of careers in medicine and have always motivated each other in this pursuit. Dr. Baker was a terrific resource for us with our many questions about medicine and was an excellent role model as to how we would one day like to practice. Moreover, Dr. Baker has long been a tremendous supporter of my goal to attend medical school and has never stopped believing in me. In 2017, when I lost my father to a difficult battle with lung cancer, the Bakers were the first to check in on my family and offer support in any way that they could. This simple act meant the world to my family and truly spoke to Dr. Baker’s sense of compassion.
When it came time for me to apply to medical schools, the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine was at the top of my list. In addition to the phenomenal faculty, curriculum, and affiliate hospitals, I was drawn to it because I knew Dr. Baker was an alumnus, and I wanted to receive the same caliber of medical education that such an extraordinary physician had received. Simply put, the day I received my acceptance call was one of the best days of my life. As soon as Dr. Baker heard of the news, he immediately reached out to share in my excitement and provide me with advice to ease my transition to Tampa. I feel absolutely privileged to be a student here and grateful to have the continued mentorship of Dr. Baker.
The White Coat Ceremony is a day that I have looked forward to for years, as it signifies my official induction into the profession of healing. When I saw Dr. Baker’s name on my white coat sponsorship card, I was both surprised and elated. Although my father will not be there for this momentous day in my medical journey, it means the world to know I have the support of Dr. Baker and his family. I am honored to be a part of the Morsani College of Medicine family and hope to be able to pay forward this generosity to the next generation of medical students someday."
Story by Omar Bishr MS1, Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. Matthew J. Baker is an alumnus in the class of 1997 and completed his training at USF in Internal Medicine ’98 and Neurology ’01.