Core Convictions, Major Players
Students on our campus have experienced wild success in identifying the place where their talents and passion intersect with great need. In that juncture, our undergraduates have created, organized, revitalized, expanded, and served in efforts such as Campus Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, World Hunger Farm, Waco Community Training Center, Mission Waco, Texas Hunger Intiative, LEAF (Learning English Among Friends), and BIPI (Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative).
The narratives of student leadership at Baylor--variegated and layered--nontheless tend to pivot upon core truths:
Jolene Damoiseaux earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology in May 2014. She completed pre-medical preparation as well as a minor in medical humanities. She graduated summa cum laude, was selected to join Phi Beta Kappa, and completed the Honors program with distinction. Please read her address to the Baylor Board of Regents on the eve of her college graduation, in which she describes her Baylor experience and unwittingly reveals that she epitomizes the best of student leadership at Baylor.
Ben Betner graduated magna cum laude in May 2014 and begins law school at the University of Texas-Austin in the fall. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and minored in history. Professors and deans regard him highly for the quality of his work and appreciate his impact on our campus. The origin of this impact began, however, long before Ben moved to Waco, Texas from his native North Carolina. As he finished high school, Ben enlisted in the United States Army and served on active duty for six years, which included deployment to Afghanistan. Please read his essay for the College of Arts & Sciences as he was beginning his senior year at Baylor and reflected on the momentous decision to delay his college education in order to join the military and serve his country.
Two new organizations on our campus, SIGHT (Students Involved in Global Health Together) and BURST (Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science & Technology), exist because of the grassroots efforts of students. Initiated as a forum for pre-medical students who desired to talk about global health issues, SIGHT has been chartered at Baylor and rapidly grown to over 100 active members--many of whom travel to Kenya each summer to serve in the free clinic supported by the non-profit organization led by Dr. Lisa Baker, Straw to Bread. BURST recently published its first edition of Scientia, an undergraduate journal devoted to articles on STEM field research, and works to connect students with excellent research opportunities at the BRIC (the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative) as well as in the College of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering.
Elizabeth Uhlig, a University Scholar and SIGHT officer, travels to western Kenya with Straw to Bread for her third summer this year. During her stay, she will implement further the pictograph (picture-based instructions) she developed for overcoming language and literacy barriers in dispensing medications to patients. A zero-cost but ingenious idea, the pictograph has vastly improved patients' benefitting from their prescriptions because they have a tool for understanding the correct dosage and schedule for taking their medications. Elizabeth has already trained members of the clinic with whom she works, and this summer she will train staff at a nearby permanent clinic in using the pictograph, extending its reach beyond that of Straw to Bread's temporary, summer clinic.
Jay Fields is a rising junior and a University Scholar with concentrations in philosophy, political science, and finance. He has actively sought leadership roles throughout his first two years at Baylor and has been elected class president in both his first and sophomore years. Jay has held two congressional internships--one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. This summer Jay is serving as a White House intern. Consistently, he has aggressively sought out the most challenging courses he possibly can take and has already had taken one graduate course in philosophy. He has also sought out many Baylor alumni in positions of leadership in academics or government, asking them for advice on how to proceed to maximize his education and leadership experiences. His commitments to excellence and leadership at the university helped earned him selection to the Baylor Board of Regents as the Student Representative for 2014–2015.
Megan Hermann completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish in December 2013. She defended her Honors thesis in her junior year and had an article accepted to a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Biochemistry and Physiology, prior to graduation.
Beyond her scholar-scientist accomplishments, Megan is a citizen and community volunteer of the highest order. Megan completed the Community Health Leadership Program at Baylor and is hugely involved in the Waco community. Along with giving her services to and crunching data for the Waco Family Health Center, she completed a three-year commitment to Waco’s community of underserved mothers and infants. Working closely with WIC (a federally funded program to undergird health education programs for Women, Infants, and Children), many physicians, and Waco agencies, Megan implemented many services for women, including a two-day retreat that offered a wide range of low-cost social services, such as presentations on career options, buying low-cost professional clothes, and applying for free infant car-seats.
Megan also played a key role in community service through the American Medical Student Association, tutored Baylor students in many fields of study as well as many public school children through her commitment to helping junior high school students develop critical thinking skills. On campus, Megan was a founder of the honors Chemical Society and took the lead in affiliating this chapter with the National Honorary Society for Chemistry, Phi Lambda Upsilon. These initiatives, as well as her commitment to creating the first Undergraduate Research Symposium at Baylor last spring, speak additionally of her engagement beyond the classroom and of her effecting significant change in the campus culture.
Hannah Adams, a University Scholar, serves as the Campus Coordinator for the national non-profit Teach For America (TFA). Hannah recruits Baylor students to commit to teaching for two years in underserved rural and inner-city communities. She makes presentations, which she crafts, throughout the school year, meeting with students in and outside of the classroom weekly. She mentors her peers through each step of the application process--and they have fared remarkably well. Hannah is articulate, incisive, and winsome, but she would credit her resolve to reduce educational inequities with her success. This year she will oversee The Pulse, the undergraduate research journal of the Honors College, as she serves on the University committee to search for Baylor's new Provost.