Baylor > Graduate School > Current Students > Grad Tracks > Conyers Scholars

Conyers Scholars

Jared Brandt is a second year Ph. D. student in Philosophy. Before coming to Baylor, he earned undergraduate degrees in Religion & Philosophy and Chemistry from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO. Jared’s academic interests include Ancient Philosophy, Kierkegaard, and Ethics. He and his wife, Courtney, have been married for two years and are both from Kansas City, MO. Courtney works as a nurse in the Pediatric ICU at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple. In his free time, Jared enjoys rock climbing and playing sports

Matthew Breuninger is in his 4th year of doctoral studies in the psychology and neuroscience department at Baylor. He received his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Scranton (home of The Office) and an M.A. in theology from Ave Maria University. While at Baylor he is currently focusing on clinical psychology in particular. For a year between his B.A. and M.A. Matt worked as treatment court liaison for a judge in Lackawanna County before deciding that he wanted to pursue graduate work in theology. Matt’s interest in psychology emerged as he studied the theology of Augustine and Aquinas and their concern with the intellect, will, and passions. Since coming to Baylor, Matt’s primary research interest has focused on issues of God Image, religious coping, and self-efficacy. Matt currently lives and works part-time as a farmer at the World Hunger Relief Farm. He enjoys milking goats, planting green beans and harvesting delicious tomatoes.

Brandon Dahm grew up in Pella, IA and received his BA in philosophy from Iowa State University where he met his wife Andrea. He then pursued a MA in philosophy at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Taking a year off from SES, he was a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Cambridge University, where he studied Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiae. He is now pursuing a PhD at Baylor University in philosophy. His research is primarily on Thomas Aquinas, but he also works on John Duns Scotus, Soren Kierkegaard and John Henry Newman on topics including metaphysics, moral philosophy and philosophy of religion.

Elizabeth Fredericks is from Southern California, and earned her BA from Hope College in Holland, MI. She moved to Canada to study theology and the arts at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and then completed her MA in English at Durham University in England. As a fourth-year PhD student, Elizabeth is writing her dissertation on community, ritual and memory in several twentieth-century regional British writers. Outside of studying, she enjoys music, coffee, and puttering about in the kitchen.

Yvette Garcia is from San Antonio, Texas. She has earned a Bachelor of Science from Texas Christian University in Radio/Television/Film, a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University, and a Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Yvette has served in ministry roles in youth ministry, media ministry, and Christian education. She is in her second year in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Religion and is studying Church History. Her research interest is in the history of Pentecostalism. Yvette is the proud mother of Pascal (tabby cat), Xena (Lab mix), and Carter (Chow mix).

Blake Victor Kent is a native of Bellingham, Washington. He attended Wheaton College where he graduated with a BA in sociology (summa cum laude, Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society) in 2002. After serving in several non-profit and educational settings in the US and China he attended Regent College in Vancouver, BC where he earned an MA in theological studies (2010). He is now in his second year of Baylor's PhD program in sociology, with current papers exploring morality and religious attachment theory. An avid photographer and studio owner, he has presented on ethnic minorities in China using visual methodologies at the Southwest Social Science Association. He has also reviewed one book for Review of Religious Research. Blake is a certified scuba dive master, and is currently seeking out the best places to go underwater in Texas.

Sungshil Kim is originally from the beautiful island of Jeju, South Korea but spent most of her childhood in the Philippines as a missionary kid. She earned her BS with honors from The Master’s College in California majoring in Biological Studies with a minor in Bible. She also served as an International Coordinator (RA) at the college for three years and as youth leader at the local church for four years. She is currently in the third year of the PhD program at Baylor continuing her studies in Biology. Focusing mainly in vector biology, Sungshil is researching the genetic and molecular components of mosquitoes that serve as vectors for disease transmission to the human population. She has presented at several notable vector biology conferences as well as at the annual Tropical Medicine meeting. She loves to play any sport that involves a ball, trying out different cuisines, meeting new people, and serving as a youth leader at the Korean United Methodist Church. Sungshil hopes to go back to Asia and teach/research in areas that are in particular need of tropical disease control.

Adam Marshall is from Canton, OH. He earned his B.A. in English Language & Literature from Canton’s Malone University, where he was named the 2010 Outstanding Graduate in English. He began his graduate studies at Baylor in the Fall of 2010, writing a thesis on John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and earning his M.A. in English in 2012. In the same year, he married his wife Brittany, and she came to join him in Waco, where she works as an occupational therapist. Since 2012, Adam has been pursuing a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis on Medieval Literature. He is also currently entering his fourth year as a Teacher of Record for Baylor’s Freshman Composition program. His research has focused largely on issues of style and religion in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, which will be the focus of his dissertation. He has presented his research at several regional meetings of the Conference on Christianity and Literature and the International Congress on Medieval Studies and has published in The Explicator. When he’s not reading, writing, or teaching, Adam enjoys cooking dinner for his wife, playing with his cats Aelfred and Guinevere, attending Waco’s Calvary Baptist Church, and repeatedly saving the world from imminent destruction in numerous video games. In the future, he hopes to teach composition and literature at a Christian liberal arts college, ideally in the Midwest.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Paul McClure earned a B.A. with Honors in Philosophy at Washington & Lee University (Lexington, VA). After six years of teaching courses in World Religions and Ethics at Episcopal High School (Houston, TX), Paul packed his station wagon and traveled north, where he completed an M.A. in Theological Studies and worked as a teaching assistant at Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia). Now back in Texas as a second year PhD student in sociology of religion, Paul’s research interests include the growing percentage of Americans who have no religious affiliation and the effects of technology on communal and religious formation. Besides school, Paul enjoys playing tennis, telling stories, and rooting on the Memphis Grizzlies.

Deborah O’Malley is from Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated with honors from Ashland University, where she majored in Philosophy and Political Science and participated in the Ashbrook Scholars Program. After college, her interest in public affairs took her to Washington, D.C. At various D.C. nonprofits, she spent several years researching and writing on constitutional law and religious liberty. In 2011, Debbie joined Baylor’s political science program, where she studies political philosophy, American constitutionalism, and politics and literature, focusing her research on the freedom of religious expression in the public sphere. She has participated in academic fellowships at the Claremont Institute and the John Jay Institute, as well as the Tertio Millennio Seminar in Krakow, Poland. Debbie enjoys getting lost in classic literature, exploring historical sites, learning French, and tasting new flavors of Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

B. J. Parker is a second year PhD student in the Religion Department at Baylor University. Before beginning his PhD, he completed an MA in Religion at Baylor, his MDiv at the McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University, and his BA in Biblical Studies with minors in Christian Education and Biblical Languages at Atlanta Christian College. After graduating from Atlanta Christian College he worked in campus ministry in Bangkok, Thailand. B. J. plans to focus on Old Testament studies during his PhD at Baylor and anticipates graduating in 2017.

Caleb Robbins is from Dixon, Illinois. In 2012, he earned a BS from Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas), majoring in Biology with a focus on ecology. Caleb is now in his third year of the PhD program in Biology, broadly centering his research around the effects of nutrient subsidies on stream ecosystem processes. Under his advisor, Dr. Ryan King, Caleb spent Summer 2013 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, researching salmonid-rearing headwater streams and is now involved in determining numerical water quality criteria for watersheds in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Caleb has a deep interest in the intersection of science and religion, particularly evolution and Christianity, and hopes to expand his understanding of the relationship between his vocational choice and his faith.

Rachel Scalzo is from snowy Syracuse, New York. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Siena College and her Master’s in Social Work from Stony Brook University. As a social worker, Rachel supported individuals and families impacted by developmental disabilities both nationally and internationally. Currently, she is in her third year of the PhD program in Educational Psychology at Baylor. Rachel is specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis and researching the use of motivating operations in teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has presented at numerous conferences across the country and published her work. Rachel plans to pursue a career in academia and maintain a faith-based private practice. She loves to be outside in the Texas sun walking her dog, volunteering with the kids at the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities, and pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Hunter Taylor is from White Oak, TX. He earned a BBA in Marketing at the University of Texas in 2005; and earned a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Ole Miss in 2008, while also participating in the Mississippi Teacher Corps (MTC). MTC placed Hunter at an inner-city school in Jackson for two years; and it was there that he fell in love with coaching. After coaching the school’s basketball team to the City Championship in 2008, Hunter left to join Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s staff in Washington, DC for two years. In his second year, he re-entered coaching as a part-time assistant at O’Connell High School (HS) and was part of a team that captured the Virginia state championship. He then moved back to Texas to coach basketball full-time and spent one year as an assistant at Trinity University before taking the head coaching position at Spring Hill HS in 2010. At Spring Hill, the team captured the District and Area championships and set the school record for most wins in a season (26). In the summer of 2013, Hunter and his beautiful wife, Brittany, moved to Waco, so he could be a Graduate Assistant under Coach Scott Drew and work on his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction.

Nicholas R. Werse is a native of sunny South Florida. He attended Palm Beach Atlantic University where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies in 2008 while working for Children’s Impact Network in both their Lake Worth office and at the Bolivia Life Center orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Nicholas and his wife Jennifer moved to Texas where he completed his M-Div at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University in 2012. Nicholas is currently an Old Testament PhD student at Baylor University’s Department of Religion, preparing to write a dissertation on the Minor Prophets. His previous publications focus upon the Hebrew prophetic literature, biblical methodologies, and church history in publishing venues such as Journal for the Study of the Old Testament and Practical Theology. When not occupied by the demands of graduate work, Nicholas enjoys long road trips with his wife Jennifer, reading, writing, and learning to play music.