The Outstanding Advocate Award is given annually to a current Baylor student, to provide special recognition for his or her individual contribution of time, effort, and passion towards raising awareness and mobilizing the Waco and Baylor community.
The Outstanding Advocate Award was initiated in 2013. The late Rev. Robert Lewis Gilbert was the first African-American graduate of Baylor, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967. He then went on to attend the Baylor Graduate School of Religion from 1970 to 1971. Gilbert was often referred to as "Little Giant" by family members due to his small stature yet enormous heart and passion. He taught in Waco as the first black teacher assigned to a formerly all-white school in Waco Independent School District. He also served the Waco community as a pastor at Carver Baptist Church from 1978-1989. Gilbert is a well-known civil rights leader in Central Texas, always striving for success and advocating for just change. In 1980, he was named Citizen of Texas and in 1992, Gilbert received the Outstanding Humanitarian Award. Rev. Robert Lewis Gilbert wrote two books. No Excuses Accepted highlighted his childhood and how individuals can succeed despite handicaps. When Your Days are Numbered aims to teach people how to die with dignity. Having struggled with rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 14, Gilbert was known as a fighter. As he states in No Excuses Accepted, "God says, You can! God says you can do anything. There is nothing on this earth strong enough to hold you back from what you can do for him. My life has tested the limits of God's strength and power. Whatever he puts in your heart to do-you can do it!" The Robert Gilbert award is given in memory and in celebration of Rev. Gilbert's heart, strength, and passion. This award is given annually to a student who has exhibited inspiring passion for a social justice issue and has demonstrated his or her dedication by embarking on campaigns, organizing events, or using other means to educate and raise awareness of social justice issues, empowering others to make a difference.
Marie Smith (2014-2015)