Celebrating a Caring Community

Celebrating a Caring Community

During a year that has presented a host of challenges and redefined what we think of as normal, this past February presented Baylor and the Texas region with yet another unexpected predicament. This one came sweeping in as a winter storm of snow, ice and frigid temperatures and then lingered for a week of power outages, food shortages and bursting pipes that left many without water.

At Baylor, we were confronted with the same difficulties others faced across our state. However, in those literally dark days, Baylor people did what they do best — they cared for one another. When we were forced to suspend instruction for several days, we saw the amazing spirit of the Baylor Family rise up to meet the immediate needs of our students.

Members of the Baylor staff served more than 2,500 students at emergency warming stations on campus at the Bill Daniel Student Center and the McLane Student Life Center. The facilities were open specifically for students who had lost power, heat or water in their apartments or homes.

Students living on campus in our residence halls received the dedicated assistance of our Baylor Dining and Facilities teams, many of whom went above and beyond their normal duties to stay overnight on campus through the week to ensure students would be fed and to respond to leaks and other facilities concerns. At the end of that long week, I joined the Baylor Board of Regents in passing a resolution recognizing the generous contributions of these essential workers.

 We also were assisted by alumni, faculty and staff who opened their doors to students who had lost power or water and colleagues who welcomed one another into their homes to weather the storm together.

The caring community that was on full display during the once-in-a-generation winter storm can also be seen in how our faculty and staff strive to help our remarkable students find their calling and dream big dreams.

This dedication to academic and personal excellence finds a particular focus regarding students who, with the guidance of Baylor’s Engaged Learning team, apply for a range of national and international fellowships and scholarships. This year, Baylor had 23 students selected as semi-finalist candidates for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program — the most ever in University history. Several of those students have now qualified as finalists.

I would like to share some of these students’ remarkable stories as these men and women serve as outstanding ambassadors for Baylor by embodying our mission of leadership and service.

Juan Castellanos is a finalist for a Fulbright Study-Research award to Australia, where he has proposed to study public health at the University of Adelaide. Juan is a first-generation college student who had never left the state of Texas until a Baylor-funded internship with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty took him to West Virginia following his sophomore year. He plans to attend medical school upon returning to America.

Candy Okwena is a finalist for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award to Rwanda. Born in Kenya, Candy came to America as a fourth-grader and hopes to draw from her experience learning English while serving as an ETA in Rwanda. She plans to pursue an M.D. after her return to the United States.

Andrew Muñoz is a finalist for a Fulbright Study/Research Award to the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Also a winner of the Goldwater Scholarship, Andrew has proposed to pursue an M.Sc. in immunology and immunotherapy, which will equip him for the M.D./Ph.D. program he plans to pursue post-Fulbright. 

Finally, I would like to introduce you to Emily Schultz. A finalist for a Fulbright, she withdrew from that competition after winning the Churchill Scholarship, which provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study at the University of Cambridge, based at Churchill College. Receiving this prestigious scholarship placed Emily among an elite group of 16 Americans chosen to study in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering at Cambridge.

As a Christian research university, Baylor is dedicated to fostering such high levels of excellence among our undergraduate and graduate students. The bonds of mentorship between students and faculty members — and the bonds of community among our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — are among the things we all love best about the Baylor Family. These bonds keep us connected, and they keep us strong. When we are tested, we join together to overcome difficulties. When we are presented with opportunities for growth and development, we eagerly work together to achieve new heights.

Thank you for your support of Baylor University as we pursue our Christian mission to provide a transformational education and serve as a beacon of hope to our surrounding world.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President, Baylor University