Baylor's commitment to community service permeates a host of academic disciplines. By providing practical education and services for free or at a reduced cost, the university shares its breadth of expertise and resources to those who may not otherwise be able to access them. Baylor students acquire a unique professional edge, gaining valuable experience practicing their craft under the supervision of trained and licensed Baylor staff, all while earning their degrees and a unique launching pad into the workforce.
Baylor's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders conducts a number of community clinics designed to serve those with speech, hearing and other communication challenges. Helping children and adults alike, clinicians treat all stages of conditions ranging from preschool speech deficiencies to symptoms of advanced Parkinson's disease.
The Baylor Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic offers evaluation and treatment to individuals challenged by communication processes, swallowing disorders and hearing rehabilitation. State-licensed Baylor faculty members certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association direct the clinic, serve as consultants and oversee the Baylor students who provide therapeutic services.
For children with language, reading and other academic delays, Baylor's Language and Articulation Preschool Class makes learning less intimidating and more fun. Children ages 2 ½ through 5 years old who successfully complete a formal assessment are eligible to enroll in the small-group setting, where students engage in productive learning through articulation stimulation, immersive auditory exercises and professional language treatment in a fun classroom setting where daily routines are the norm. For older children, a partnership with the Waco Scottish Rite brings to Baylor each summer "Camp Success," a day program dedicated to youth with speech, dyslexia and language-based reading impairments. The camp's goal is to help avert students from the negative outcomes associated with poor academic performance due to reading disabilities.
People with hearing loss -- from severe to mild -- can experience significant social isolation and even depression. For these individuals, the Baylor University Audiology Clinic offers state-of-the-art audiological testing and advanced hearing aid technology to diagnose and treat common hearing disorders. Baylor graduate students, with help from licensed audiologists, fit patients with specialized products from custom musicians' and swimming earplugs to a full range of hearing aid styles featuring the latest technology. The audiology clinic serves autonomous patients, along with those referred by physicians, school districts and community organizations serving children, the elderly and Waco's underprivileged population.
The Neurorehabilitation Clinic at Baylor University specializes in adult, brain-related communication issues. It works to enhance the quality of life of those recovering from stroke and traumatic brain injury or suffering from neurological conditions including Parkinson's disease and brain tumors. Equipped to address a wide range of physical and cognitive symptoms, clinical staff and graduate student apprentices use customized group and individual treatment strategies developed specifically for patients' varying degrees of impairment.
Doctoral candidates in Baylor's clinical psychology program, along with licensed psychologists from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, provide comprehensive counseling for struggling individuals, couples and families at the Baylor Psychology Clinic. People experiencing depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, failure to cope and other mental/emotional health issues can meet with clinicians without the added burden of financial stress, since the clinic operates on a sliding scale based on family income.
Baylor's Department of Health and Human Performance (HHPR), through the university's Center for Healthy Living (CHF) and in partnership with local physicians at the Family Medical Clinic in Waco, introduced in the fall a four-day Health and Fitness Assessment program for residents of McLennan County and the surrounding areas. At the clinic, HHPR students conducted physical screenings along with complete blood work-ups and a battery of movement and flexibility tests, all then reviewed under a physician's supervision. Participants were given customized, confidential reports detailing their evaluations and received from Baylor students individualized fitness and exercise recommendations to promote a healthy lifestyle. CHF plans to continue offering the low-cost clinic year-round with as many as 8-10 sessions per semester.
In another unique community partnership, HHPR students have collaborated with Mission Waco and Church Under the Bridge for years to meet the needs of underserved Wacoans, many of whom gather each week to worship beneath I-35 near campus. With donations from across campus that include an array of health and hygiene items (from reading glasses and shoes to toothpaste and dental floss), HHPR students coordinate health fairs to perform basic screenings and help participants identify risk factors for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Following in step with the ultimate Servant -- Jesus himself -- students even wash their clients' feet.
Each year the Baylor School of Law hosts the People's Law School, a free, half-day workshop open to the public. Registrants can choose three courses from an exhaustive list of nearly 20, all of which are taught by volunteer attorneys and legal experts. Course content ranges from debt collection and landlord/tenant rights to elder and veteran law, social security law, and many other topics relevant to homeowners, small business owners, prospective law school students and more.
Recently, Baylor Law received new funding from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to begin a monthly clinic assisting Texas veterans in navigating basic civil legal issues such as disability benefits and family law matters. Begun last fall, each session of the Baylor Law School Veterans' Clinic opens with a 30-minute presentation followed by an open discussion time when veterans can meet with Baylor Law students, each partnered with a local volunteer attorney, to ask questions about their specific situations. Veterans receive valuable one-on-one legal advice while students practice client relationship management and learn the value of public service.
Also debuting this fall was the Baylor Law School DACA Immigration Clinic, which focuses on assisting young immigrants -- ages 15 to 30 -- in completing eligibility paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under President Barack Obama, the program was developed to allow immigrants who entered the U.S. as children to remain and work here for a period of two years without the fear of deportation. Second- and third-year law students guided clients through the somewhat complicated process aimed at incenting young immigrants to become lawful, tax-paying U.S. residents.
Baylor's Hankamer School of Business participates each year in the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free service offering tax preparation to low-income families across the U.S. Since 2008, Baylor Department of Accounting faculty members, along with Baylor students who undergo certification to become quality reviewers, have teamed with a group of student volunteers from Waco's A.J. Moore Academy to put on the clinic. In 2011 the partnership resulted in VITA's No. 1 top-performing student-operated VITA site in America, having prepared more than 1,600 returns resulting in $3.1 million in tax refunds to customers.