Season 5 - Episode 520
Baylor students have set an incredible standard this year in the number of prestigious scholarships and fellowships received—Fulbright, Goldwater, Churchill and more. In this Baylor Connections, Andy Hogue, who serves as Associate Dean of Engaged Learning in the College of Arts & Sciences and directs Baylor’s Office of Engaged Learning, highlights the meaning and impact of these honors and examines the reasons these numbers continue to grow.
Derek Smith:Hello, and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week, we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more discussing important topics in higher education, research, and student life. I'm Derek Smith. And our guest today is Andy Hogue. Andy serves as Associate Dean of Engaged Learning in the College of Arts and Sciences and directs Baylor's Office of Engaged Learning. The Office of Engaged Learning facilitates for students and faculty programs in undergraduate research, civic engagement, global involvement, internships, and major fellowships and awards. And speaking of that, this year, Baylor celebrated record numbers of key scholarships and fellowships for students, including 14 Fulbright recipients, the first Truman scholarships since 2007 and much, much more. A lot to celebrate a lot of great students here at Baylor are doing some great things and excited to talk about that and more with you today. Andy, thanks so much for joining us on the program.
Andy Hogue:Thank you, Derek. It's a pleasure to be here.
Derek Smith:Well, I know that we've been seen in Baylor media relations, press releases, scholarships coming out, Fulbright and more. It's almost like award season, if you will it seems like. How exciting is award season for you and your colleagues, certainly not to mention the students who received them?
Andy Hogue:And this is, I always say May on a college campus is a really bittersweet time because we're saying goodbye to so many wonderful students. But what makes it especially sweet, especially for some of these wonderful students who've won these major awards is we really feel like we are launching them. They are headed to incredible things. And that's really exciting for us, of course, but my goodness for those students who have the golden ticket to some wonderful places by way of these fellowships and awards, it's really, really an exciting time.
Derek Smith:Well, I know you and I will talk about resources and ways your office helps students in their pursuit of these, but this has been a special year, hasn't it? In a lot of ways.
Andy Hogue:It absolutely has. It absolutely has. We've been through a challenging two years with the pandemic and a number of different programs that we help students bid for have been canceled or have faced various hurdles. And so to see, so many of our students get the chances to go do these incredible things, whether it's through Fulbright or through critical language, scholarships and so forth, we're really seeing the opportunities for them to get to spread their wings, and go all over the world and really make an impact
Derek Smith:Visiting with Andy Hogue. And Andy, I think everyone knows that this good. You hear that people are getting these scholarships, students are getting these scholarships, and that's a good thing. But how can those of us or people outside of higher education or your world think about conceptualize what that means exactly? To what would you compare these record numbers of prestigious scholarships and how can we envision what they mean to the university?
Andy Hogue:Absolutely. Well, these are nationally and sometimes internationally competitive awards pulling the best students from the best universities to bid for opportunities to go do a wide array of things. I often tell students that there are people out there whether it's foundations or government entities, there are people out there and institutions out there that have resources that they have decided to invest in future leaders. And as you might imagine, that attracts really bright, really ambitious, really enterprising students from Harvard and Brown and Yale and all the rest, and our students are right there with them competing for these opportunities. And what's really been just gratifying is many of us who work with students believe and we've seen that these students are as bright and capable as students anywhere. And what these different awards do is in some ways, validate that. Validate the fact that our best students are really incredible human beings who have big ambitions who have desire to lead and serve. And that Baylor in fact, is helping students achieve the mission of Baylor University. We're really preparing them for worldwide leadership and service. And so it's been really exciting that these external evaluators are judging that to be the case.
Derek Smith:Yeah, it's the best of the best for sure, as we visit with Andy Hogue. And Andy, Baylor has focused resources to help students in this. Now that's only a part of what your office does, but could you take us inside the office of Engaged Learning a little bit further? What it is, what it's designed to do, and then also how it helps students pursue these?
Andy Hogue:Absolutely. Well, the office itself has only existed since 2019, but the initiatives that the office houses and supports have of course been with us much longer. So the Office of Engaged Learning works really in five key areas. So we work with students to help them engage their community through civic engagement of various sorts. We help our students attain opportunities for undergraduate research, which happens in disciplines all over the university. We help students find ways to connect globally, whether that's through study abroad programs or programs like Fulbright, that we've just mentioned that are sending them all over the world, as well as through a variety of types of internship programs and then major fellowships and awards. And so what the Office of Engaged Learning does is pull each of these five somewhat distinct strands, pulls them together into what I like to think of as one ecosystem where each of these activities is really feeding off the others, is interacting with the others to create what I think is a healthier, more vibrant hole that serves students from across the university. We work with students in every academic unit to the way we like to phrase it, the summary phrase for it is, we like to help them maximize their undergraduate education through learning beyond the classroom. Where we know classroom learning is essential to a successful education, as well as learning that happens outside the classroom. And so that's really what we're here to do is to work with students and work with faculty to provide those pathways beyond the classroom so that they can maximize their opportunities.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Andy Hogue. And Andy, what about working with students in pursuing these scholarships and fellowships? What does that look like as you engage with them on this?
Andy Hogue:Well, we work with students really as early as we can find them. We are continually working with faculty from around the university to identify students that have a particularly large ambition or who have interests that align with certain awards. We often tell faculty if you have a bright and ambitious student, send them our way as soon as you can. And so that's one part of it is finding these really stellar students that we know populate programs all over the university. When we do that, we then begin to try to tailor our service to students around their interests. If a student is interested in a career in foreign service, well, we can provide them with some opportunities and some pathways to pursue that. If they're interested in scientific research, there are a number of programs and opportunities to do that. So part of it is that identification process, figuring out where their interests align with opportunities that we know exist out there in the world. And then, it's a process of discovering when the right time is for them to apply for certain things, making sure they're eligible, and so forth. And then really working with them from start to finish on the application process. Knowing that these are nationally and internationally competitive, we know that our students have to present their very best selves. And so part of our job is to help them sort of uncover that and tell their own story in a way that is going to connect with those who are making decisions about how to invest those resources.
Derek Smith:How arduous of a process is that for the student and particularly for the student, but also for you all working with them?
Andy Hogue:Well, it's hard work, and we make sure they know that from the moment they express interest. That this is not something that you do willy-nilly. This is not something that you do on the fly. That this is going to take a considerable amount of effort from brainstorming what is it I want to tell about myself, how do I connect the things that I have been doing with my life so far to the ambitions that I have post-graduation? How do I connect these things in one coherent sort of narrative? How do I assemble the letters of recommendation that I need from faculty who have taught me and have invested in me, have supervised my research? There are a whole lot of pieces that really have to come together to form a good solid coherent application. So it is really hard work. We tell our students and I think they know this going in, that they're really going to have to put in the hours. They're going to have to put in the drafts. That an excellent essay is par for the course. It's really, we often talk about you can write an excellent essay, but is it a Fulbright, excellent essay? Really tailoring it to the audience and tailoring it to the opportunity is an art. And it's hard. And it takes often months and months of dedicated time to that. So it's a process we, of course, on our end thoroughly enjoy because it is an opportunity to really get in the trenches with the students to really know them well, to know their story, to know their ambition, to know what makes them tick. And it's a real sacred honor to do that with our students. Of course, they're the ones that are really putting in the hardest work of all.
Derek Smith:How many people are involved in that process?
Andy Hogue:That's a great question. It is a wide number of people in a kind of heavily concentrated way. We have a couple of folks in our office who are in on that process. Dr. Daniel Benyousky is our develop our Director of Major Fellowships and Awards. And he has done a masterful job of creating the processes for this so that our students are both educated from the earliest, from the time they begin at Baylor, they know these are opportunities available to them all the way into the nitty gritty of working with individual applicants on their applications. In addition to that, we of course rely very heavily on faculty who have mentored these students throughout their time at Baylor. And so for an individual student, we sort of form a team around a team of support around that student with people from our office, as well as faculty who have been working with them all along the way during their time at Baylor. And that's a wonderful thing for us to get to work with so many talented faculty across the university to see the ways that they have poured heart and soul into mentoring these students. And then of course, when the application ends up being successful, it really feels like a sort of big party because there's so many people who have been invested in the process.
Derek Smith:This is Baylor Connections. We are visiting with Andy Hogue, Associate Dean of Engaged Learning in the College of Arts and Sciences. And he directs Baylor's Office of Engaged Learning. And so what are some of the things that you've learned when the floor is so high in terms of applicants, how do students stand out? What are some things that you and your colleagues have recognized beyond great credentials stands out?
Andy Hogue:Well, we often tell our students that great grades tend to be the lowest bar. That's the minimum for success on these. Beyond that, it really, it is not about writing what they think someone else wants to hear. It actually is about writing authentically from their own experience, talking about the experiences that they've had in their lives, talking about the things that they aspire to do in the world with their lives and trying to sort of create a narrative, draw a line from one to the other that resonates with who they are. So that's really an important part of this. It's also the case that they will be sniffed out quickly if they don't know what they're talking about. And so often when we have students that want to write about their ambitions in human rights or in international affairs or any, you pick the subject. When they're going to write about their ambitions in these spaces, it will appear hollow pretty quickly if they haven't been doing the work to understand those issues, to really begin grappling with those issues, to be able to draw the path from here to there. And so that's a lot of what it is. And frankly, from our side of things, it's really gratifying because we get to learn a lot from our students who are becoming experts in so many different fields. So for us to get to work with them and work with their faculty mentors on speaking well about these issues is really a lot of fun for us because we learn things that we didn't know we needed to learn.
Derek Smith:That's great. Well, speaking of learn, I was thinking, I knew we'd get talk to you, a lot of these scholarships people have heard of. We've talked about whether it's the Fulbright or Churchill Goldwater. These are titles, names that people have heard in passing, but maybe we don't know what... I don't know what all they are specifically for. So I was wondering if you could give us a little bit of a 101 on some of these major scholarships and fellowships, what they're intended to do, who applies for them and whatnot. So let's just dive into some of these. Let's start with the Fulbright.
Andy Hogue:Yeah. The Fulbright is funded by the US Department of State. It is a program for cultural ambassadorship. So the idea is there are multiple parts of the Fulbright. There's actually a Fulbright scholar program for university faculty to go live in another country for a year, or to have faculty from other countries come to the US for a period of time. The Fulbright US student program has two kind of components to it, all of it designed to send bright young people abroad to do the work of cultural ambassadorship in a country, to represent the United States in that country, to educate people about customs and traditions and what it's like to be an American. The two forms that takes, one is what's called the English teaching assistantship. So Fulbright ETA's as those are called, go to countries all over the world and work in classrooms, various age ranges to help teach English to students. The other is what's called the Fulbright study research award, which sends students to go do advanced study or research in another country. And while they're there through their work as a student or a researcher, they're there as an ambassador of the United States. So it's a pretty high honor. If you think about it, you're being commissioned by the United States government to go represent the US government on the world stage.
Derek Smith:And as of this moment, we have 14. I have that correct, 14?
Andy Hogue:14. We waiting on one more hoping it'll be 15, but either way, it's a high water mark for us.
Derek Smith:High water mark, for sure. What about the Goldwater?
Andy Hogue:The Goldwater is a preeminent stem award. So those who are interested in science and engineering and mathematics. And it is also a US government funded program that's looking to identify the next generation of research leaders in those fields. And so what the US government does with these funds is invest them in students that they believe are on a trajectory to be research leaders, to make those breakthrough discoveries in science and technology and engineering. And that's a program Goldwater funds current Baylor students. This is something sophomores and juniors can apply for, and those funds will go to fund a significant portion of their Baylor education. We've had tremendous success on Goldwater because we have so many of our science faculty who have invested so deeply in providing students with opportunities to get early experience in research.
Derek Smith:So we talk about Fulbright and Goldwater. What about the Truman?
Andy Hogue:Truman is the preeminent public service focused award named after Harry Truman. It is an award that current juniors apply for and juniors who have demonstrated significant leadership and public service commitments and who have been what Truman likes to call change agents. So this is an investment in future change agents who are headed into a variety of different fields, but that have a sort of public orientation to the work that they're doing. They're aspiring to benefit the public good, highly, highly competitive award. Typically, one student from each state wins that award. So to have had our first Truman in a few years, this year was really gratifying to see.
Derek Smith:That's great. What about the Churchill?
Andy Hogue:Churchill is an award that we're actually new to here at Baylor. So the Churchill is named after Sir Winston Churchill, who near the end of his life, having successfully fought alongside the United States in World War II realized that it was science and technology that had really facilitated the ability for the US and Great Britain to coordinate efforts and defeat the access powers in World War II. And so he said part of my legacy, I wanted to be to kind of secure this ongoing scientific exchange between our countries. And so every year a select number of universities are sort of allowed into the club, if you will, of eligible institutions. And we just gained our eligibility at Baylor two years ago, and won our first Churchill in the first year of eligibility, won our second Churchill in the second year of eligibility, which meant Baylor is the only institution in the country that's batting a thousand of the Churchill. And Churchill scholars are funded by the Winston Churchill Foundation to go to the University of Cambridge to earn a graduate degree, which is a pretty high honor if you're someone who's in the sciences. So 16 of those awarded every year, 15 or 16. So for us to be two for two is a pretty phenomenal achievement for our students.
Derek Smith:That's fantastic. And a couple that are similar, the Boren and the US State Department Critical Language scholarship.
Andy Hogue:We live of course in a globalized world and where the ability to interact diplomatically with different countries is of ultimate importance to US national security. And so both the critical language scholarship and the Boren are focused on studying critical languages, languages that are deemed important for or critical to US national security. So one's funded by the Department of Defense, the other by the Department of State. But the idea here is that they're investing money in undergraduate students, and in the case of Boren also graduate students, to send them places, to immerse themselves in a culture, to learn that language with the idea that in turn, those students will devote their lives, or at least a good portion of their lives to public service, usually through diplomatic channels. So we've also had just really great success with those programs as well.
Derek Smith:Well, as you describe these, you can certainly see why a university whose mission involves worldwide leadership and service, these are good fits for them, certainly. And you touched on this at the beginning, but I want to ask you again specifically, now that we've reviewed what these are all about. Why do you think this year has been so prolific in terms of students being able to receive these and enjoy these experiences?
Andy Hogue:That's a great question. It's one we ask ourselves often. We are continually evaluating and trying to improve our processes so that more students can take hold of these life changing, life shaping kinds of opportunities. I'll say number one, the university has made an investment in this. The university has determined that this is important, that this is the kind of thing that really can put some of our students in a different stratosphere of leadership, of opportunity. And so there's been a commitment from the university, from the top that this matters. And again, that's based on a belief, what I would call sort of empirical evidence, that our best students really can compete with the best students anywhere. So I'd say that's number one, university investment. I would say, in addition to that, we have continued at Baylor to attract really incredible young people. They are smart, and that is a significant part of it, but it's more than that. We've been able to attract to Baylor students who are ambitious, who see these possibilities for the kinds of worldwide leadership and service that we're interested in. They see that as possibility for themselves, and they're willing to catch a vision for that and work hard. And then finally, I would say a hallmark of Baylor that is really hard to find is we are an R one university that cares deeply about the experience of our undergraduates. And what that means is that we have world class faculty working at really high levels who are investing deeply in the experiences of students. That means that our students are getting the kind of mentorship that can launch them into these really successful places. And I think that combination of things is really beginning to pay off for our students.
Derek Smith:Well, that's a great way to close this out today and excited to see that continue to pay off in years ahead, certainly as this work continues to grow. Well, Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us, congrats to you and your students and your staff on a great year.
Andy Hogue:Thanks, Derek.
Derek Smith:Thank you. Andy Hogue, Associate Dean of Engaged Learning in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of Baylor's Office of Engaged Learning, our guest today here on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith, a reminder you can hear this and other programs online at baylor.edu/connections, and you can subscribe to the program on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.