Leading the Way
Clearing a path, paving the way, being the first to come through — it all takes grit, heart and a sense of purpose. And that’s exactly what the Baylor staff members supporting the University’s Trailblazer Scholars Program were looking for when they selected the inaugural group of 25 scholars for the 2021-22 academic year.
The scholarship program is designed to recognize the importance of fostering diversity and mutual respect at Baylor. Trailblazer Scholars take part in leadership and service opportunities through the Multicultural Affairs Department and through other groups and programs on campus.
Hailing from eight different states and with 20 different majors, the diverse inaugural group of Trailblazers was composed of an almost even split of upper- and underclassmen. But what each of the chosen scholars had in common was a commitment to personal excellence and to fostering diversity, unity and mutual respect within their own spheres of influence as well as the wider Baylor community.
Sophomore, Professional Writing and Rhetoric, Kansas City
Morghan Golloher described joining the Trailblazer cohort as gaining family members away from home.
“Coming into Baylor and not knowing anyone, the Trailblazers were there with open arms,” said Golloher. “We were able to discuss hard-hitting topics together, but we were also just able to get to know each other better. With this program, you’re being equipped with a cohort of people who are striving to create more equity and diversity on campus, but you’re also being equipped with a family.”
Golloher already had an appreciation for the impact clear and thoughtful communication can make, but her first year with the Trailblazers — learning from her fellow scholars and guest speakers at both program and campus events — empowered and inspired Golloher to share her own story and life experiences with others more freely.
Junior, Biology, Corpus Christi, Texas
“Coming from my community to Baylor was a culture shock for me in more ways than one,” said Jaramillo. “I immediately felt alienated from an ethnic standpoint, and then just in general, it was hard to find friends. Everyone already had their own cliques.”
“From the first Trailblazer reception, I saw other students from different races who were underrepresented on campus and were in the same boat as me and feeling some of the same things that I was,” Jaramillo said. “We not only started attending Trailblazer events together, but we would text in between, too. We have become amazing friends. If I’m struggling with something, they’re always there to help me.”
Senior, Biology and French, Atlanta
Young, who was already involved in several campus organizations, was surprised by the level of enrichment she found in participating in events recommended or required by the Trailblazer program.
“We had so many phenomenal speakers come and talk to us, plus amazing experiences and service opportunities together, that most of us Trailblazers ended up exceeding the program requirements without even realizing it,” Young said. “In the future, I hope more Baylor students outside of the program can participate in these opportunities on campus where you’re learning from other cultural perspectives, so that all students — not just students of color — can be more aware of Baylor’s demographics and what we can do to support each other.”
In her 33 years of serving students at Baylor, Director of Multicultural Affairs Pearl Beverly has observed that a real sense of belonging is foundational to students’ success.
“Sometimes, in the business of the day-to-day, it’s easy to forget that we all need love and the kind of attention that communicates ‘you matter.’ We forget how crucial that experience is to our well-being no matter if we’re in a work, school or a community setting,” Beverly said. “But when you go into a space where you’re welcome and wanted enough times, you begin to believe ‘This really is for me.’”
Excerpted from the Fall 2022 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences Magazine. To read the full article visit baylor.edu/artsandsciences/magazine.