At Rice, Gabe Baker ‘14 majored in civil and environmental engineering
, played in a record-breaking 56 football games and occasionally found time to keep up his cello skills. With the goal of learning more about civil engineering careers, he interned with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett’s ’71 office.
After college, he worked as a roadway engineer for HNTB Corporation, an engineering and construction management firm in Houston. So, when Emmett’s office called last spring, asking if he’d be interested in becoming a flood control policy adviser, it seemed like a job tailor-made for Baker.
“It’s purposeful work,” said Baker about his new position. It’s not just that he sees a duty to his community to serve, but that he sees doing so as an extension of his deep Christian faith. Baker recently completed his Master of Theological Studies at the Houston Graduate School of Theology (HGST), something he long felt called to do.
“My foundation was a spiritual Christian household,” said Baker, whose mother teaches at HGST. “And my studies gave me an incredible understanding of where people are coming from, philosophically and spiritually.”
Baker’s faith drives him to create community, something he thinks his position helps him to do.
“There’s a deeper motivation for me in my career than just advancing to another job,” Baker said.
Shortly after he was hired by Emmett, he spent time traveling around Houston, talking about the bond measure that would raise $2.5 billion for flood control efforts. His Rice studies allowed him to understand the scope of the projects involved — everything from property buybacks to shoring up reservoirs — but it was his seminary training, he said, that helped him connect with the people whose lives were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“For those who lost their homes, flood control isn’t theoretical,” he said. “This is a real issue in their real lives. Something needs to be done in our region. Being able to speak to people and tune in to their needs is useful.” — H.B.