Born in Chicago, Shaquita Baker moved to Urbana with her mother, brother and twin sister when she was just 3 years old. After graduating from Urbana High School, Shaquita worked as a CNA and at Home Depot, while earning her Associates Degree from Parkland College. Currently employed by University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Shaquita hopes to start taking classes there in Sociology. In her free time, Shaquita loves spending time with her 4 year-old son, playing cards with her family, and watching horror movies.
For most of her adult life Shaquita has moved from place to place, due in part to disruptive neighbors but also because Shaquita never felt like she could make a place really feel like home. After having her son, whom Shaquita describes as an “intelligent, smart-mouthed little man who wants to do everything on his own,” she started thinking more and more about finding a better place to live that both she and her son could call home. While working at the Home Depot, Shaquita talked with Gary, the Construction Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Champaign, who told her about the Habitat program and encouraged her to apply. Shaquita submitted an interest form and worked on establishing her credit, to increase her chances of being approved as a Habitat partner family. Soon after, she was accepted into the Habitat program, which initially surprised Shaquita as being only 26 she had never expected to be a homeowner at such a young age.
Shaquita is optimistic that being a Habitat homeowner will bring about positive changes to her and her son’s lives. She has really enjoyed her experiences volunteering with Habitat and plans to continue volunteering in the community after her house is built. Gift-wrapping, in particular, has been one of her favorite experiences with Habitat, mainly because it has allowed Shaquita to meet other homeowners in the program. “It is just nice going through this experience with other people, having the same excitement and thinking about the same things.”
“This program is a blessing. I didn’t think that I would become a homeowner any time soon as it is hard….the benefits that Habitat offers are great, like the no-interest mortgage. For the people out there like me, who are trying to get on a good path, this program is really helpful in getting you started and helping you work towards your goals. I think that owning a home will make it easier for me to go back to school, as I will have less things to worry about and I can focus on school. It is going to be so lovely.”