Andrea PeñaNov. 24, 2008
As a Baylor student who grew up in Waco, sophomore Andrea Peña is part of two families: her natural one, and the Baylor family. They just happen to overlap.
"My grandpa did his undergrad here and became a doctor. And my dad, and his brothers and sisters came here, and some more of his extended family," she laughs. "My grandparents, they got all the granddaughters the little cheerleading outfits, so I have one for every age probably; every time I would grow out of one, my grandma would get me another one."
When it came time to choose a college, Peña considered leaving Waco, looking at schools in Dallas, Houston and Lubbock. In the end, however, she picked Baylor--a choice she is very happy she made.
"I'm glad I stayed; I really felt like this is where I needed to be," she says. "I've just done so much ministry, and that's my passion, to be able to impact others through any way I possibly can... I found what I want here at Baylor."
Staying in Waco has allowed Peña to spend more time with her younger siblings and continue her involvement at Christ the King Baptist Church, where her father, Ramiro Peña, BA '88, is pastor.
"I go to the same church, not just because my Dad's the pastor, but because I actually like where I'm at. And I see [my family] every Sunday; I have lunch with them. My brother and sister are still in high school, so I go to their events. My sister was on the homecoming court last week, so I went to their games."
But she says she's been able to maintain a balance between keeping up with her family while establishing a new, more independent life as a young adult. Part of that has come through living on campus her first two years at Baylor.
"Even though I was still in town, I wanted to be able to get the full college experience of being away from the family," she explains. "I'm a very independent person, and so I love being able to spread my wings away from the parents. ... I think they've kind of understood, 'She is growing up, we're gonna have to let her go a little more than we want to,' but it's been a change. I think it's gonna be a change regardless of whether you're at home or not."
An education major, Peña spent the summer teaching potential Baylor students about what it means to join the Baylor family.
"I was a Baylor Bound leader this summer, and I had a lot of fun working with orientation and Line Camp. That was an amazing experience. I absolutely loved it, working with the students and just seeing the different personalities," she says. "I've been told I'm a very maternal person, and I have this motherly vibe, I guess. ... I was dubbed the mother of the Baylor Bound group this summer. I think that definitely is a factor in the things I've enjoyed here at Baylor, helping others, especially the freshmen."
Peña tells the story of one student she was able to help out.
"There is this one girl that is actually an international student; she's from Columbia. At first she was really nervous and she came here thinking she would be okay, that she knew some people, but as soon as school started things changed, and it really just threw her off. I had made that connection with her during orientation, so she felt free to just give me a call. And she's doing so much better; she has a great GPA, and I'm so proud of her. She's like my little sister now."
Yet another Bear knit into the Baylor family.