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Past Conyers Scholars, 2016-2017

Daniel Benyousky is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the English department at Baylor, where he has taught freshman composition, British and American literature survey courses, and several Honors College colloquia. Daniel was born in Los Angeles, CA and spent many of his formative years in the Midwest. He earned his B.S. in Psychology from Grace College, his M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College, and his M.A. in English Literature from Durham University in the U.K. He worked as a mental health therapist in the Chicago-area for several years before coming to Baylor. He is writing his dissertation on the stereoscopic poetic witness of W.H. Auden and Derek Walcott, detailing how their poetic visions focus on the displacement and trauma around them, as well as attempting a return to place and expressing a gratitude for the gift of poetry. Daniel has presented at a number of scholarly conferences on various British and Caribbean authors and recently had a paper on Seamus Heaney recommended for publication. He was awarded the H.E.B. Dissertation Fellowship in 2015 and received a dissertation research scholarship from the John K. Kerr Fund in 2016. In addition to teaching this year, Daniel works as a Consultant in the Graduate Writing Center. He enjoys writing poetry, long distance running, watching the Dodgers, and experimenting in the kitchen.

Nicole Bouchard is fifth year doctoral student in English. She grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she learned to love ocean sunsets, growing vegetables, and going camping. She then headed west to Idaho and earned a BS in Mathematics and BA in English from Northwest Nazarene University. Here at Baylor, her research interests center in Victorian literature and questions of gender and malady, with secondary interests in Composition Pedagogy. She teaches courses in composition for the English Department, and she is a member of the fifth cohort of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.

A native Texan, Emily Brower hails from Austin. She earned her BA in University Scholars, with an emphasis in literature, in 2012 from Baylor University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She is now in her fifth year of the PhD program in English. Her research primarily focuses on Modern and Contemporary British and Irish literature, though she’s also interested in American authors influenced by their Irish counterparts. Her dissertation explores storytelling and narrative consolation in the work of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Cormac McCarthy. Emily works as an Associate Editor at Baylor University Press and teaches courses in composition and British literature for the English Department.

James Chang is a PhD candidate in chemistry in his fifth year. A native of South Korea, he earned a BS in 2003 in chemistry from California Institute of Technology and an MS in 2011 in chemistry from University of California San Diego. His research has taken him into exploring the cell wall of Gram positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. He is excited by the possible significance his research could have on clinical treatment of bacterial infections, and he sees his research as a way to serve others. He enjoys experimenting with untested recipes both in and outside the lab, and often refers to his chemical experiments in the lab as "cooking." He has shocked his California friends by purchasing a pair of cowboy boots and wearing them proudly even in sunny San Diego. He hopes to pursue translational medicine research as a postdoc here in Texas after finishing his degree.

James M. Cochran is a doctoral student in the Religion and Literature PhD program in Baylor’s English department. He grew up in Homer, New York and earned a BA in English and religious studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He teaches in the first-year writing program at Baylor, and his research centers broadly on twentieth-century and contemporary American literature, religion, and culture. He has recently published an article in Label Me Latina/o and book reviews for Christianity and Literature and Studies in Popular Culture. When he is not reading or writing, he enjoys cooking and trying new food with his wife Colleen. They both deeply miss New York pizza and wings. James can be found online at

Alicia Constant is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in English from Albuquerque, NM. Her area of study is Victorian literature, with a focus in the poetry of Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. Some topics she has recently written on include apophatic theology in Milton's Sonnet 23, the interactions of sacred and secular time in Hopkins' poems, and the sacramental role of poetry. Her personal hobbies include running and training for half marathons (she plans to do her fourth in November of 2016), cooking, and writing poetry herself.

M. G. Gutierrez was raised in Winfield, Kansas. He earned his BS in biochemistry from Harding University in 2014. He is currently in his third year in the graduate program in chemistry at Baylor University where is pursuing a PhD in physical chemistry. His primary research interests include gas-phase chemical kinetics and dynamics in addition to quantum chemistry and spectroscopy. Following the completion of his scientific studies, he intends to pursue formal training in theology and philosophy. For leisure, he enjoys running, watching movies, cooking, drinking coffee while reading good books, and spending time with his best friend and wife Ally.

Corina Kaul is originally from Portland, Oregon. She earned her B.S. from University of Oregon in 1991 majoring in Psychology, Marketing, and Business Management (Magna Cum Laude). While her husband, Grant, pursued his MDIV, the couple served in youth ministry. Since 1995, she served the role as a pastor’s wife. Following God’s call to Waco in 2000, Grant (Senior Pastor) and Corina have enjoyed serving and growing along with Fellowship Bible Church. Corina earned her M.A. in educational psychology at Baylor in 2014. She has presented at the Southwest Educational Research Association conference, the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, as well as the National Association for Gifted Children. Her research on gifted children has been published in TEMPO, Gifted Child Today, and Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Other educational research includes studies on faculty integration of faith and learning as well as developing student life professionals as scholar-practitioners. She is currently finishing her PhD coursework in educational psychology. She relishes time with her husband and four children.

Rachel Lynn Kilgore studies 19th century novels as a Ph.D. candidate in the English department where she has been for two full years. Her B.A. is in literature from the University of Houston, and her M.A. from the University of Dallas focused on Jane Austen’s ethics of reading. While finishing her Master’s thesis, she began working as an adjunct instructor at several colleges in the Dallas and Houston area including community colleges, the University of Houston Downtown, and Houston Baptist University. After three years, she began her work at Baylor where she hopes to write her dissertation on the interaction between a reader’s world, and the imagined worlds of novels. She has presented at several of the Conferences for Christianity in Literature, the Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame, at the North American Victorian studies Association (in October, 2016), and will happily "present" to anyone else with a moderately interested expression. When not writing or teaching, Rachel enjoys crocheting, listening to audio books, hiking in Cameron park, conversing with friends, and dreaming about the tiny cob houses she hopes to build one day.

Rosemond (Rose) Lorona is from Orange County, California. She went to Pepperdine University for her B.A. in Psychology, where she fell in love with her field of research…and the beach, of course. Rose is in her third year of Baylor’s PhD Program in Social Psychology and researches thoughts and emotions that influence prejudice. She is especially interested in stigma/prejudice toward those with mental illness and those who are homeless and how these stigmas play out in the Church. Rose and her husband, Adam, enjoy traveling and hiking; some of their favorite places are national parks, specifically, Yosemite. In the future, Rose will hopefully teach and research mental health stigma at a faith-centered college.

Nathan Myrick is originally from Warroad, Minnesota, a tiny hamlet on the Canadian border. He and his wife, Lesley, have one child, Ford (2 ½). He completed his BA in Music Ministry at Providence University College in Otterburne, Manitoba, and his MA in Theology and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Myrick has worked as a touring rock and roll guitarist and songwriter, a musical missionary and band leader, a worship leader, journalist, screenwriter, and recording artist. His research at Baylor focuses on the intersection of Music and Theology in the congregational environment using ethnography and critical theory as primary methodologies. His dissertation research focuses on the construction of an asystematic ethics of congregational song. He enjoys coffee, beer, hunting, fishing, soccer, and spending time in the company of good friends.

Gabriel Odom is a statistician and ordained presbyter. He earned a Doctorate of Christian Theology in 2013 and a Master of Divinity degree in 2011 from International Miracle Institute. He holds a Science Bachelor degree in mathematics and an Arts Bachelor degree in economics from the Kugelman Honors Program at the University of West Florida, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Kappa Phi-among other distinctions. Gabriel is passionate about good doctrine and spurring Christians on to good works. He has taught classes on the Seven Sacraments, creeds and history of the Church, finding one’s call, and discipleship. In the sciences, he is active in classification and machine learning research for big data and is writing his doctoral dissertation in statistical science on this topic. He lives in Waco, Texas, with his beautiful wife and muse Tremaine.

Eleni Reid is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate in English from Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated summa cum laude from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2011 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Philosophy. Her dissertation explores the ways in which Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy of the Übermensch and his conception of the artist influenced American Modernist writers. She has published in Plath Profiles and has presented papers for the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, South Central MLA, and Christianity and Literature. Eleni teaches freshman composition and American literature for the English department, and in her spare time she enjoys watching classic movies and British miniseries, painting with acrylics, and spending time with her husband Seth.

Brandon Rickabaugh is from Newport Beach, CA. He earned his BA in philosophy (UC Irvine), and his MA in philosophy of religion and ethics (Biola University). As a second year in the PhD program in philosophy, Brandon’s research focuses on the intersection of epistemology and metaphysics regarding issues in the philosophy of mind (consciousness, intentionality, mind/body problem) and the ontology or human persons, especial the nature of the soul. Brandon also has interests in philosophy of psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of religion (divine hiddenness, sanctification, natural theology), and spiritual formation. Brandon has presented papers at US and UK universities including, Oxford, Yale, Durham, CU Bolder, UC Davis, and UT Austin. His work has been published in Philosophia Christi and the Journal for Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. He also enjoys film, music, robots, and traveling. Brandon’s wife, Laura, teaches 4th grade at Woodway Elementary. They attend Dayspring Baptist. You can learn more about Brandon and his work at

Mackenzie Sarna is a third year doctoral student in the English department. She holds a BA from Biola University and an MA from Trinity Western University. Her research interests focus on the intersection of trauma, imagination, storytelling and forgiveness in orphaned characters in 20th century literature. She has presented papers at several Conferences on Christianity and Literature, and appreciates the integrative Christian focus provided by such organizations. She enjoys long conversations with friends and family, spending time out of doors, baking, playing violin, and reading books. A native of Minnesota, Mackenzie hopes to teach at a Christian liberal arts college somewhere further north than Texas.

Amy Schroeder grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Arvada, Colorado. She double-majored in English Literature and Theology, as well as minored in Philosophy, at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, in 2009. Afterwards, Amy moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a year to work at Payap University, where she developed a deep and lasting love of teaching, especially teaching literature. She earned her MA in English Literature at Baylor University in 2013 and is currently in the fourth year of her PhD. Her dissertation examines the role of daily ritual - actions that are ritualized through their daily repetition - in twentieth century poetry, specifically in the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Louise Gluck, and Donald Hall. This topic has enabled her to think deeply about the form of poetry, as well as the construction of daily life and the intersection between faith and everyday ritual. Amy was also selected as a member of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, and she enjoys writing letters by hand, hiking, and cooking Thai food.

David Smith has lived in Oregon, Missouri, and now Texas. He received a B.A. from Truman State University in 2003, and an M.A. in 2006. He spent time in Kansas City working in the professional world and teaching before coming to Baylor. In his fifth year, he is working on his dissertation involving the English Romantic poet and artist William Blake, exploring various aspects of the multimodal texts Blake produced. David has written chapters on Blake’s engagement with the prophetic apocalyptic and millennial zeitgeist of the 1790s, as well as the use of secular liturgies to incarnate aristic ultimacy, derived from the work of modern day scholar James K. A. Smith. David’s conference presentations involve the American Gothic and Blake’s printmaking theories; further, his article on Charles Brockden Brown’s Gothic novel Wieland was recently accepted for publication. Among his interests David enjoys board games, golf, fantasy fiction and movies. And ladies, he’s single.

Marcell Steuernagel is a Brazilian composer, performer and Church musician. Marcell's journey has always interweaved ministry and the arts. After earning a double major in Conducting and Composition at the Paraná School of Fine Arts, he earned a Master's degree in Composition from Paraná State University. He also worked as Arts Minister at Redeemer Lutheran Church for over a decade. His ministry has also included partnerships with World Vision International, the Lausanne Movement and other Brazilian organizations. Marcell's ministry priorities include teaching at worship conferences and workshops and pastoring artists, as well as in the academic environment. His career as a visiting professor includes lectures in the theology of worship and the arts, as well as in musical composition and Brazilian music studies. His research interests involve the intersection of music, performance studies, composition and practical theology, and are primarily concerned with music making and Christian identity inside and outside of the traditional church setting. He is married to Carol and they have three children. The family currently resides in Waco, TX, where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Church Music at Baylor University.

Cody Strecker, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, is a third year doctoral student of theology within Baylor’s Religion department. After earning a B.A. in Classics and then working as an admissions counselor and research assistant to the president at Hillsdale College, Cody received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke University. His final year in that program was spent in southern Germany at the University of Tübingen and the Reutlingen School of Theology, where he, his wife Mary, and their two sons quickly came to cherish daily life lived on foot. Cody’s research focuses upon the symbolic world vision of the fourth century poet-theologian Ephrem the Syrian. He serves as Family Catechist at Christ Church Waco, is a long-distance runner, and in mid-September welcomed a third son into the family.