News Briefs

2019 National Student Teacher Honor

Lauren Hornbeak, BSEd ’19, was named the 2019 National Student Teacher of the Year by Kappa Delta Pi (KDPi), the international honor society in education, and the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).

Only one national honoree is chosen per year, and Hornbeak is the first honoree from Baylor.

She also was recognized as the Clinical Teacher of the Year for the State of Texas by the Texas Directors of Field Experience (TDFE), the organization of faculty members within university teacher-education programs who supervise field experiences of students. TDFE chose three student teachers as awardees for 2019, and each honoree receives a scholarship. For the state award, Hornbeak is the third Baylor honoree in the last four years.

She began her professional teaching career this fall at Cypress Creek (Texas) High School in Cypress Fairbanks ISD, as a biology teacher.

Hornbeak is a sixth-generation Baylor Bear with an ancestor who graduated in 1873 at Independence. Both her parents are Baylor graduates, and her grandfather, Billy Jack Hollis, ’60, is in the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame.

“I knew Baylor would push me to grow spiritually, academically and socially, but more than anything it would be a bond to share with my family for the rest of my life,” she said. “To be able to walk the same steps and hear the same bells as family members before me is something I would never trade.”

2019 SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship

Jingyi Yang, MA ’17 and doctoral candidate in the physics department, was awarded the 2019 Laser Technology, Engineering and Applications Scholarship by SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, for her potential contributions to the optics and photonics field.

Yang said the scholarship is for her work on developing nanometer-size lenses with other members of her research group. The group is able to put extremely thin lenses on the face of an optical fiber and demonstrate its focusing abilities, which can be applied in laser surgery, medical imaging and optical communication.

Individually, Yang is working on a project related to zero-index photonics, which is a study of what happens when a light’s wavelength is stretched infinitely in a medium.

“It’s a big encouragement for me to stay on the career path of a research scientist. I did not expect to win one of these scholarships from SPIE because they are very competitive,” Yang said.

Online Offerings Expanded

New online options are available for graduate degrees in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and Hankamer School of Business.

Digital education leader 2U Inc. and Baylor have partnered to launch a new online master of science (MS) in communication sciences and disorders through the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in Robbins College.

Speech@Baylor is designed for aspiring speech-language pathologists to assist children and adults with communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders. 2U also partners with Baylor to provide Education@Baylor, MPH@Baylor and MSW@Baylor. For more information, visit

Baylor’s nationally recognized Online MBA program in the Hankamer School of Business introduced three new concentrations in marketing, cyber security and executive communication that began this fall.

The Online MBA with a Concentration in Marketing is designed to give students a deeper understanding of advertising, branding, communications and consumer behavior. The Concentration in Cyber Security addresses the growing concern in every industry that relies on information technology. The Concentration in Executive Communication allows students to build expertise in verbal and non-verbal forms of communication and prepare to communicate effectively to groups inside and outside of businesses and organizations.

To learn more about Baylor’s Online MBA programs, visit For a complete list of Baylor’s online graduate professional offerings, visit

The ‘Heaven 11’

Baylor journalism professor Robert F. Darden, BSEd ’76, presented his “Heaven 11” — a list of the 11 most influential black gospel songs, from Freedom Songs to hit singles to the great old spirituals — during the summer.

Darden, founder and director of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), leads a national movement to preserve the fast-disappearing legacy of African American sacred music on vinyl. 

“There is no way to quantify the ‘greatest’ gospel song of all time, but certain songs have been more influential than others through the years,” he said. 

Darden selected songs from the 1940s through the 1980s, with one special caveat:

  1. “I Will Move on Up A Little Higher” 
  2. “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” 
  3. “Oh Happy Day” 
  4. “The Reason Why We Sing” 
  5. “People Get Ready” 
  6. “We Shall Overcome” 
  7. “Peace Be Still” 
  8. “Through It All” 
  9. “Touch the Hem of His Garment” 
  10. “Mary, Don’t You Weep” 
  11. The next great gospel song

As for that last selection, Darden said, “We haven’t heard it yet. Few people still alive even know of its existence. But it could be in the next batch of long-lost gospel classics by a hitherto unknown gospel artist donated to the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.” 

(Listen to the “Heaven 11” on this Spotify playlist, created by Baylor Proud.)

Darden founded BGMRP more than a decade ago in a search-and-rescue effort to identify, acquire, preserve, digitize and catalog recordings from the black gospel music tradition. This music, from the Golden Age of Gospel from 1945 to 1975, was quickly vanishing as albums made the transition to CDs.

“Thousands of at-risk songs have been saved for future generations,” Darden said. “These recordings are priceless, irreplaceable and historic in a way that scholars are only now realizing.” 

Through the work of the Baylor Libraries’ Digital Projects Group, recordings from the BGMRP are available online in the Baylor Libraries Digital Collection, and in some cases resources include other materials, such as taped interviews, photographs, press packets, tour books and programs, newspaper and magazine clippings and sheet music. 

Darden hosts Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments, a weekly radio feature produced by Waco’s KWBU-FM and airing on several NPR stations throughout the country. He tells stories and plays recordings from the BGMRP, exploring the distinct music genre and revealing the depth of a people, their community and the influence they have had on the rest of American music. 

Music from the BGMRP also is included in a permanent exhibit featuring African American musical history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016 in Washington, D.C.

AAFCS Honors Nutrition Sciences Professor

The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) presented a 2019 Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Janelle Walter, professor of nutrition sciences in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and director of the didactic program in dietetics.

“This award is special to me because it is the highest recognition given by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, a professional organization I have been affiliated with for 40 years,” Walter said. “It is special because three of my peers at Baylor nominated me for this award and because it brings recognition to Baylor’s department of family and consumer sciences.”

Walter has served as president, counselor, treasurer and vice president of membership for the AAFCS Texas Affiliate. Walter’s service has been recognized previously when she received the AAFCS National Leader Award and the Kappa Omicron Nu Advisor Award of Excellence, and more recently when she was named Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the 2017 Texas Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Professional of the Year.

Walter’s interest in childhood obesity and working with professionals in the area of child development and family studies recently led to research about forces within and outside the family unit that influence decisions about food intake for families.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes superior achievements in family and consumer sciences, outstanding contributions to the family and consumer sciences profession, and sustained association leadership at state and national levels.