By Vicki Marsh Kabat
As a young girl living in a chaotic home with parents who struggled with addictions, Brooke Rasco, BSW (August) 2009, always knew in her heart that she wanted to be a part of something bigger she just didn't know how to get there.
"I have always felt that God was preparing me for something, so maybe that's why I have the gift of resiliency," she says. "First, I just had to survive."
Brooke cites Rick Rusaw, a guest speaker at a Baylor conference she attended, who said, "You're saved from something for something."
"When he said that it just clicked in my head. Exactly! That's my journey."
"We are a part of people in the mess. We're the ones in the room with them, and we don't leave"
Brooke left her hometown of Houston to attend the University of Texas-Arlington, but her funding fell through. She followed her childhood friend to Waco, taking classes at McLennan Community College where an Intro to Social Work class suddenly put her future into focus.
"I fell in love with social work in that class."
Then she began to dream about attending Baylor but secretly. "I applied but I didn't tell anyone. I'm out here alone, paying my own way, they take the best of the best. Anybody would have told me No way!'"
But there was a way. Brooke is the first recipient of the Caitlin Elizabeth Creed Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named for a pre-social work undergraduate student tragically killed in an automobile accident in 2007 in her freshman year.
"My heart pours out for the reason why the money is available, but I am also very grateful because I feel like I'll be a very good steward of this gift. Part of me feels like I'm going to be able to continue Caitlin's legacy through the people I'll impact," she says.
Brooke emphasizes that if it were not for people like Brad and Kathy Creed, Caitlin's parents, and even those who give $5 to Baylor, she wouldn't be here. "A lot of people are here at Baylor because of those who give abundantly out of their hearts and invest so much into the world," she says.
This spring, Brooke is taking 17 hours, completing 16 hours a week in her internship with the City of Waco's Housing and Community Development, and working two part-time jobs. Weeks before the end of the semester, she was offered a 20-hour a week job in the School working with the director of the Texas Hunger Initiative an opportunity that will not only give her additional community development experience but that also will simplify her life and consolidate work time. "I'm not negating the fact that I'm working hard, but it is really cool to see the ways doors have opened. God has been an awesome provider throughout!"
At her internship at Housing and Community Development, Brooke has been evaluating Waco's current emergency evacuation plan, specifically for the homeless. She discovered that even the bigger cities in Texas did not have a plan and that, in essence, there is no model; they are now asking for her model.
Her other internship project has been to research a community voicemail system for lower-income and the homeless so that anyone can call a toll-free number from any phone to obtain call-backs pertaining to employment, impending dangerous weather, or messages from case managers or family members.
"I have realized that there is a bigger purpose in all of this and that I'm just a mere part of that picture. For me, because of my faith, it is God's bigger picture. I almost feel like it's my duty to fulfill some of that purpose."
Brooke understands personally that it is a courageous act to share your life and your story with someone, and as a future social worker she is determined not "to take that lightly.
"We are a part of people in the mess. We're the ones in the room with them, and we don't leave. To be able to have that honor! There is something so raw and pure in that."