Students decide to earn graduate degrees at Baylor for many reasons. For some, Baylor is a top program in their field of study. For many, Baylor's intimate size or the opportunity to study in an atmosphere that supports Christian values is attractive. For others, the outstanding financial packages offered by the university separate Baylor from the its peers. For Olivia Carroll, the decision was personal.
Carroll was a sophomore at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, where she was a Communication Studies major. She registered for a course called 'Ancient and Medieval Political Philosophy' with Tom Pope, a recent graduate of Baylor's Political Science doctoral program.
And, that is when everything started to change.
"In Tom's course, I had one of those 'a-ha' moments, where you know that this is what you want to study," says Carroll.
"It was so exciting," she says. "We were reading these texts and pulling these ideas out of them. It was not like reading a textbook. We were engaging directly with primary sources, and it felt like my brain came on."
Pope took the position at Lee while he awaited the defense of his dissertation at Baylor.
"He was a great professor," Carroll says. "He really came in and took the university by storm. When a young professor comes in and clearly loves what he is teaching, it is really infectious."
"He does a good job at making you care, no matter what field you are coming from."
Carroll ended up double majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies, and as she approached graduation the idea of graduate school began to emerge.
"Tom was really encouraging," Carroll says. "He knew I could be successful in grad school, and he helped me find potential schools that matched my interests."
Carroll looked at Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and Vanderbilt. Then, Pope added his advice.
"I really think Baylor will be a good fit for you," Pope told her.
"It is only because of him that Baylor was on my list," Carroll says. "I discovered that the program is strong, the professors are acclaimed, and I knew from Tom that Baylor would be a sound academic place to study."
And he was right.
"I really love this program," Carroll says. "This program understands the incorporation of the theoretical and the practical, and Baylor provides a supportive Christian environment without sacrificing academic rigor. I couldn't be happier."