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Catching Up with a Crane: An Interview with Amy Robertson

Sept. 25, 2009

Why did you choose to attend Baylor as an undergraduate?

I grew up in Boerne, Texas, just outside of San Antonio, and came to Baylor to study Physics in 2002, graduating in 2006. As an aspiring college student, it didn't even cross my mind to apply to schools outside of Texas, and, when I visited Baylor for the first time, I was impressed by the warmth and the congeniality of the faculty there. I wasn't, at first, sure whether I wanted to pursue a degree in Physics or Religion, and Baylor would allow me to pursue either.

What are you doing now, and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington in Seattle, working on my degree in Physics with a research emphasis on Physics Education. My favorite part of my 'research job' is working with in-service K-12 teachers in professional development courses. I'd like to continue my work with teachers, as well as my research and work in curriculum development projects, hopefully at a small research university (like Baylor!).

How did you first hear about Crane Scholars?

I heard about the Crane Scholars program via a letter in the mail during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at Baylor. My (now) husband and I both went to the informational session, and I was excited and intrigued by the opportunity to fellowship with other students who were deep-thinking, "serious-about-their-studies" kind of people.

What did your time in Crane Scholars teach you, and how has it influenced you since graduating?

Through the Crane Scholars program, I met the wonderful Kearney family (our hosts for the sophomore and senior years of Crane Scholars), who became our mentors (Dr. Kearney mentored my husband, and Mrs. Kearney mentored me). Because of the amazing gifts that the Kearneys gave us, I've been encouraged to intentionally seek out mentoring relationships - both as a mentee and a mentor - and to spearhead a mentoring program between faculty and students in the Physics Department at UW.

The friendships and the fellowship that were developed around dinner tables and book-discussion-circles are some of my favorite memories of the Crane Scholars Program. In a very safe place, I learned to own my thoughts and feelings about matters-of-the-mind-and-heart. Because of the diversity of the group, I found friendship in unexpected places, an experience that opened my eyes to the richness of listening and loving people that, on the surface, look and sound very different from me.

When I left Baylor for graduate school, I saw my time at UW as a means to an end: I imagined my graduate education to be the key to my future as a hopeful academic. Over the last three years, a number of circumstances have, on a regular basis, brought me face-to-face with my own mortality and have more deeply instilled in me a desire to live intentionally. As a result of these experiences, coupled with the encouragement of the Crane Scholars Program to reflect on calling and purpose, my perspective has dramatically changed. Rather than seeing this time as a ticket to my "academic calling," I have focused on living out this "calling" now: I endeavor to be a beacon of grace and love to my colleagues and academic superiors; I have instigated programs and organizations that will make my workplace a place where students and faculty can engage in their work-lives as valued, encouraged, loved persons; and I have thought carefully about the unique gifts that I bring to my department and my research discipline and striven to discern and pursue opportunities that will build on those strengths. Long story short: rather than seeing calling as a vision of the future, it has become a dynamic, living thing that engages me in the moment.