Baylor Black Alumni Network Gala Honors

On Nov. 17, the Baylor Black Alumni Network’s Gala Scholarship Dinner celebrated the 50th anniversary of the June 1967 graduation of Rev. Robert Gilbert (deceased) and Barbara Ann Walker, who received the University’s 2017 Medal of Service for Contributions to the Professions: Christian Ministry. 

“It was an honor for us join with the University to recognize the first black graduates and other firsts at Baylor University,” Baylor Black Alumni Network President Marie Brown, BA ’92, said. “We stand on the shoulders of those who have paved the way before us, and we want to leave a record honoring trailblazers for students that will follow us for years to come.”

With nearly 250 people in attendance, other first achievers or achievements honored at the on-campus event included:

  • Law School graduate, Michael Heiskell, BA ’72, JD ’74
  • Truett Seminary graduate, Joseph Parker, MDiv ’97
  • Southwest Conference athlete (football), John Westbrook, BA ’69
  • Athlete (baseball), Choice Richardson, BBA ’74, JD ’74
  • Scholarship athlete (basketball), Tommy Bowman, BBA ’71 (also a former Regent)
  • Cheerleader, Dr. Gayle Heiskell, BS ’74
  • Professor, Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes
  • Male professor, Willie Lunsford
  • Male Regent, Rev. Louie B. George Sr.
  • Female Regent, Dr. Alicia Monroe
  • Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta
  • Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha

“This 50-year commemoration is truly a momentous occasion for the Baylor Family, as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Baylor’s black alumni, who transcended barriers and excelled in their respective scholastic and professional endeavors,” University President Linda A. Livingstone, PhD, said. “We are a better and enriched institution for having been graced by Rev. Gilbert, Ms. Walker and Dr. Malone-Mayes and all of the Baylor Black alumni who have followed in their distinguished footsteps.”

The 2017 Rev. Robert Gilbert Distinguished Black Alumni Award was given to Nekpen Osuan, BA ’08, and Dr. Bettina Drake, BS ’01. Osuan is co-founder of WomenWerk, a nonprofit that empowers women and girls in the New York area. Drake is an associate professor at Washington University School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis.

Recipients of the Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes Scholarship were Georgia Young, BSEd ’17, for 2016, and Mikayla Smith for 2017. The Baylor Black Alumni Network has presented more than $40,000 in scholarships since the fund was established in 2000.

The group’s mission is to aid and support the University in its endeavors to improve and promote the matriculation of African-American scholars, and to encourage the active participation of its African-American alumni. The Baylor Black Alumni Network, chartered in 1985 and previously called the Baylor Black Alumni Association, intends to increase student awareness and engage a greater number of young alumni. To learn more, see pictures from the event, or to become involved, visit