What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?
1992, B.S. Biology in the Honors Program.
Tell us about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.
After graduation I attended Medical School from 1992 - 1996 at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, followed by Residency and Board Certification in Family Medicine in Waco (now called Waco Family Medicine Residency; then called McLennan County Medical Education and Research Foundation) from 1996 - 1999. In July 1999, after graduation I moved to Newton, KS to begin private practice at The Wichita Clinic, including a full broad scope of rural primary care: office and hospital care, delivering babies for 9 years, and nursing home and hospice Medical Director. I became Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care. Beginning in the mid-2000's I moved increasingly into leadership positions, and became a Certified Physician Executive in 2013. I completed a Masters in Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. In June 2015, I moved back home to Tulsa, OK, and became Administrative Medical Director for St. John Clinic. Then in January 2020, I took the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at CommunityCare of Oklahoma, a regional provider-owned health plan. Along the way, I enjoyed a 23-year career in the US Army Reserves, with six deployments including to Iraq in 2008. I retired from the Army at the end of December 2020.
How did your participation in the Honors Program influence your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?
Looking back, I believe the Honors Program helped set high standards for intellectual rigor and honesty while encouraging students to be unafraid to pursue difficult questions even at the risk of not mastering everything. Through the Honors Program, we were taught to relish the nuance and beauty that lives between disciplines.
These were vital lessons that helped carry me through medical school and my wife's doctoral program (Dianna Ziegemeier Mills, BA 1991, PsyD 2000)
Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Baylor?
Many, many! I remember, the atmosphere as you walk across campus on a cool morning; the bells from Pat Neff ringing in the distance; the joy of informal get-togethers with those that become life-long friends. And the grackles... and the crickets!
Who was a mentor you had during your Baylor experience? How did their investment impact you?
I had many mentors, but two stick in mind:
1) Bill Hillis, MD who taught medical physiology. He seemed to know everything possible about everything I was interested in and set a high bar demonstrating knowledge, compassion, and connections with others.
2) Dan Wivagg, Ph.D. who taught Freshman Honors Pre-Med Biology, which started out with what seemed like 1/3 the Freshman class enrolled. He gave a patented "say hello to your left, say hello to your right... odds are one or both of them won't be here after the semester!" He remained a trusted advisor and friend throughout my Baylor years, and most of my closest friends at Baylor were in that class.
Do you have any advice for current students in the Honors College?
Drink deeply from the well, because years down the road your experiences in the Honors College and at Baylor will still be influencing you in ways small and great. The Honor College’s emphasis on multidisciplinary courses, team teaching, small group seminars, and rigorous writing are all fantastic preparation for your future. Regardless of your career field and chosen path, your ability to influence those around you and serve your community comes down to the same skills and habits you are learning now. (and don't take freshman Latin 1 as a senior already admitted to Medical School... I strongly recommend against it!)