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Conyers Scholars

Olivia Carroll earned her BA from Lee University in 2012, double majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies with a minor in Religion. She also served as a Resident Assistant (RA) and Administrative Assistant with the Residential Life and Housing Office for three years. She is currently in the fourth year of the Political Science PhD program at Baylor. Her interests include literature and the intersect of theory and international relations. She has also embraced the administrative side of university life, engaging in a variety of committees and organizations with her department and Baylor as a whole. She enjoys skipping when no one is looking, playing indoor soccer, doodling constantly (it helps her think), and revealing the wonder in the ordinary.

Sarah Clark grew up in East Tennessee. Since then she has lived in Chicago, Minnesota, Georgia, and Texas. She earned a BA in English from Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia, in 2009. She earned her MA in English from Baylor in 2012. She enjoyed the program so much she decided to pursue a PhD from Baylor as well. Now in her sixth year, Sarah is taking preliminary exams and beginning her dissertation. She mainly studies modern British writers and is particularly interested in theological aesthetics. She has presented papers at five academic conferences and currently serves as English Graduate Student Association Orientation Co-Chair. When not thinking about theological aesthetics, Sarah enjoys hiking in Cameron Park, listening to podcasts, and talking about TV shows with her friends. After earning the PhD, she hopes to teach at a Christian liberal arts school.

Sara Dye has lived in and loved many places but has come to consider Waco home. She earned a BA from the University of Mobile (Mobile, Alabama) in 2013, majoring in English and Humanities with minors in Psychology and Philosophy. Sara graduated from UM with honors and was the recipient of the Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award, which is the highest recognition possible for a female senior. Currently in her third year of the PhD program in English at Baylor, Sara’s research interests are primarily in Rhetoric and Composition, particularly religious rhetoric, community-based writing, and first-year writing pedagogy. The work she is most excited about explores the relationships between students’ and institutions’ rhetoric, faith commitments, and community service and engagement. Sara enjoys being active and outdoors in a variety of forms: playing volleyball, running, gardening, swimming, exploring Cameron Park, etc. She also enjoys theatre, beaches, coffee, and Sergio’s breakfast burritos.

Wesley Garey is from Decatur, GA. He earned his BA in 2013 from Covenant College, where he majored in English and Philosophy. Now in his third year as a PhD student in Baylor’s English Department, Wesley has developed a wide variety of literary interests, but plans to focus his studies on English literature of the Early Modern era. He is particularly interested in the connections between theology, hermeneutics, and literature, and has presented papers at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Southeastern Medieval Association, and the Southeast Conference on Christianity and Literature. He also enjoys watching good films, spending time with friends (especially over coffee), and exploring Cameron Park.

Nathan Hays is a second year Old Testament PhD student from Fort Worth, Texas. His interest is in Second Temple Judaism, and he hopes to teach in a college or university after graduation. He studied at Baylor University as an undergraduate and Duke Divinity School for his Master of Divinity. Nathan enjoys reading and the outdoors.

Rebecca Poe Hays has roots in Louisville, Kentucky and west Tennessee. After receiving a BA in English and Biblical Languages from Union University, Rebecca and her husband Joshua earned MDiv degrees from Samford University. Now in the third year of a PhD in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Rebecca’s research interests center around the use of parable in the Old Testament and the power of story to communicate theological and ethical concepts. Rebecca is the co-editor of C. S. Lewis Remembered (Zondervan, 2006), The Good, the True, and the Beautiful (Chalice, 2007), and the annual Proceedings of the Christianity in the Academy Conference. Her other publications include both scholarly and popular pieces that deal with issues of hermeneutics, metaphor theory, and the Christian life. Church ministry has been an important part of Rebecca’s life and work, and she hopes that her academic contributions will ultimately serve the church.

Matt Henderson is a fourth year graduate student working his PhD in Sociology. He has two Master’s degrees, also in sociology, one from Baylor and the other from the University of Houston where he also earned a Bachelor’s degree. Before attending graduate school, Matt spent six years working part time for a Houston based international non-profit providing services to Central Asia, while also teaching writing at Houston Community College. At Baylor, Matt has developed research looking at the ways religious beliefs impact individual and social outcomes, paying particular interest in health and in racial attitudes. He is on target to begin his dissertation on potential health benefits of religion for different racial groups in the US. Matt and his wife of ten years met while students at the University of Houston. She is an engineer and supervisor working here in Waco for Caterpillar. They have two children, a girl and a boy, and are expecting a third in June. He is a proud native of Houston and an avid sports fan.

Melissa Ishio is originally from Waco, Texas. She earned a BSW from Baylor in 1986, an MPPA in 1991, an MSW in 2008 and a Certificate of Asian Studies from Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan in 1985. While in Japan, Melissa met her husband Yoshito who is a Professor of Sociology at International Christian University in Tokyo. The Ishios moved back to Waco in August of 2014 for Yoshi’s sabbatical. They have two boys Yoshiya Joshua (14) and Yoshio Justice (11) who changed from Japanese to English language school with this move. Melissa works as a Case Manager for the Family Abuse Center in Waco and is working on supervision hours so she can get her clinical social worker license. Melissa is in the first cohort of a new PhD program in the School of Social Work. Her dissertation focuses on how social workers experience dual relationships. She will return to Japan with her family in May 2017.

Lois Johnson is a fourth-year graduate student in the Religion and Literature Ph.D. program with interests in Trinitarian doctrine, theological anthropology, and Modern and Post-Modern American Literature, including Latin American Magical Realism. Prior to enrolling in the Religion and Literature program, Lois - a native Texan - completed an undergraduate degree in Communication and Rhetoric, also at Baylor, and a Masters in Education at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While an undergraduate, Lois was employed by Mission Waco, and from that experience, went on to work for over a decade in inner-city ministry, expanding that in later years to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refuges/United Nations Refugee Agency and the World Council of Churches to resettle refugees in the Grand Rapids area. At the same time, Lois, who always had in mind a Ph.D. program, used her Masters degree to teach part-time at Davenport University, building a lived-experience of academics informed by the powerful lives of the hungry, thirsty, foreign, naked, sick, and imprisoned. To these and to the One who is always with them, Lois is gratefully indebted. Kyrie Eleison.

Joseph Leman is from Eureka, IL. He earned a BS ('05) and MS ('08) in biology from Illinois State. He then spent two years as a pre-medical advisor and instructor for Augustana College. Feeling unfinished with learning, Joseph next earned an MS ('12) in experimental psychology from Villanova University. In his second year of the PhD program in Psychology and Neuroscience, Joseph is researching the psychology of religion and personality. Two ongoing projects involve developing a scale to measure Intellectual Humility and determining the relationship between attachment to God and mental health. He will be married in June 2015 to Lilly Ettinger, a Truett Seminary student and pastor of a West, TX church. Joseph enjoys rock climbing; cooking; snowboarding; board games; and his cats. He hopes to teach interdisciplinary courses in a small liberal arts college one day, and help design a curricular program for integrating faith and critical thinking.

Michael Milburn is a Ph.D. candidate in English in his seventh year at Baylor University. He graduated summa cum laude from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2006 with a B.A. in English and received the Presidential Scholarship upon entering Baylor. His research interests include nineteenth-century British literature, mythopoeia, and literary criticism and theory. His dissertation seeks to reconstruct Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s theory of fantastic narrative. His scholarship has been published in Mythlore, Tolkien Studies and Explorations in Renaissance Culture, and in 2010, the Mythopoeic Society honored him with the Alexei Kondratiev Award for best student paper at the organization’s annual conference. In addition to teaching composition and literature, he has tutored in the writing center and served as a research assistant in the Armstrong Browning Library, working with manuscripts and rare books from Baylor’s extensive nineteenth-century collection. He has led the English Graduate Student Association as president and received the Outstanding Graduate Student award from the English department. Among his other involvements have been the graduate fellows program at the Honors Residential College and the libraries’ student advisory group on information technology services. He hopes to teach at a small Christian liberal arts college.

A native Virginian, Adam Myers studied philosophy at Liberty University (Va.), history at Wheaton College (Ill.), and philosophy of religion at Yale Divinity School (Conn.). His research focuses on the rise of historical consciousness in the nineteenth century and its complex relation to moral philosophy and culture in that century and ours. He is now in his second year of doctoral work in philosophy at Baylor University (Tex.). He enjoys sacred choral music and German and Italian opera and prefers New Haven pizza to that of New York or Chicago.

Jessica Robinson is from Boulder, Colorado, and earned her BA from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, where she majored in Theology, with an emphasis in Vocational Ministry and Biblical Languages. She and her husband, Stefan, moved to Pasadena, California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary where she received her Masters of Divinity. The couple then moved to Texas in the Fall of 2012 for Jessica to begin her graduate work in higher education administration, which culminated in the writing of a thesis studying on the effects of mentorship relationships on college students' purpose development. As a second year PhD student in Higher Education Leadership, Jessica's emerging research interests include: college student identity development, virtue education, and the historical development and current function of the community college. She has presented two papers at the American Educational Research Association, and is currently working with McLennan Community College to build a Career Services Program. Outside of studying, Jessica enjoys coffee, acoustic music, and cooking Italian food.

Sarah Rude is a fifth year student in the English PhD program. She is originally from Granite Falls, Minnesota. She majored in English, Spanish, and Business during her undergraduate studies at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and she wrote her thesis on Shakespeare's Macbeth while at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. Her dissertation will examine the ways that medieval theories of optics and vision influenced literary authors like Chaucer and Malory. When she is not researching or writing, she enjoys running, baking, and travelling to the beach at Port Aransas with her husband, Niles Haich, and her dog, Feste Waffles. Eventually, she hopes to return to the Midwest and teach medieval literature at a liberal arts college.

Nathan Warf is from Dickson, Tennessee. He earned a B.S. from Freed-Hardeman University in 2008, majoring in Bible and minoring in history and sociology. He and his wife, Loren, then moved to Southern California, where Nathan earned a J.D. and M.P.P. at Pepperdine University (2012). Nathan is now in his fourth year of Baylor's PhD program in Political Science. He is writing a dissertation connecting English pluralism to the common law tradition. Nathan and Loren, who is completing a PhD in English at Baylor, will return to teach at their alma mater upon completion of their degrees.

Ryan Womack earned his B.A. at Oklahoma Baptist University and is currently a Ph.D. student studying religion and literature at Baylor University in Waco, TX. Ryan teaches freshman writing courses at Baylor and his research interests are honing in on religion, ethics, and technology in recent American literature. These studies are part of Ryan’s dissertation project which hopes to illuminate how the writing of recent Catholic American writers Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, and Cormac McCarthy envision the human person in their various narrative dilemmas.