News from Ohio State University

Ohio State nursing graduate follows calling to care for new mothers

For Chiara Baker, her commitment to nursing with a focus on babies and new mothers comes, partly, from a relationship with two siblings she never knew.

“I say, ‘I’m an only child.’ But that’s actually because I have two other siblings who passed on and I believe they’re in heaven. My twin was a miscarriage and then my older sister, Amanda Mia, was born prematurely and lived for 7 1/2 months before she passed in the [hospital],” she said.

Chiara Baker (center) celebrates graduation with her parents Jeff and Margi Baker“My mom was very vocal with me growing up, talking about my siblings, specifically my older sister Amanda. She would tell me, ‘You have two other siblings, and we hold them in our hearts. And I received great care, and your sister received great care,’” Baker said. “And that was very pivotal for me in my childhood.”

Last week, Baker celebrated commencement at The Ohio State University with more than 12,500 undergraduates and more than 600 peers from the College of Nursing. It was the culmination of a college career that began at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many, it was a daunting time to be a college student, especially for students thinking of a health care career. A devout Catholic, Baker said her faith was instrumental in her decision-making.

“I had already made the decision that I wanted nursing. So I was like, ‘If I get accepted during COVID, then that is absolutely God providing for me,’” she said. “And in some sense, [COVID] has made me realize that I’m truly dedicated to this profession, and it has allowed me to recognize the beauty of love and sacrifice and that they cannot be separated.”

Baker’s nursing education and clinical experience helped her focus on postpartum patient care, as well as labor and delivery.

Annetta Sipes, clinical assistant professor of practice in the College of Nursing, served as a mentor for Baker. She believes helping babies and new mothers was what Baker was called to do.

“Nursing is a call. It is from your heart to others. This is Chiara’s strength and it is what keeps her going through adversity,” Sipes said. “The call is love and compassion. She is able to touch those she cares for with pure hands and intentions.”

Baker worked part-time as a postpartum patient care associate/student nurse associate at the Wexner Medical Center. Following graduation, she is now a full-time nurse at the medical center.

Baker knows she is stepping into a profession facing an immense demand for talent. She said she is embracing the challenge.

“I have felt tremendously encouraged and uplifted,” she said. “Obviously, there are a lot of challenges with nursing right now: there are staffing issues, and the patient population is shifting. People are sicker.”

As she starts her professional career, Baker is continuing her education at Ohio State, pursuing a master’s degree and specializing in nurse-midwifery. She hopes to work as a certified nurse midwife with the medical center’s labor and delivery unit.

She also hopes to continue medical missionary work. As a student, Baker was part of a service trip to the Dominican Republic, providing clean water filtration systems for a small rural village.

Baker’s parents watched her graduation at Ohio Stadium this weekend and are proud of the profession she is joining.

“They tell me all the time that they couldn’t think of a better profession for me. … They know how much I love babies, the moms and the baby population,” she said. “They know I’m doing what I’m doing because of my older sister, and they could not be more grateful and humbled by my recognition of how beautiful life is, and my wanting to be part of that in such an intimate way.”