What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?
I graduated in May 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and in May 2005 with a Master of Social Work.
Tell us about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.
After graduating with my Master of Social Work degree, I went on to obtain my Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and then on to seminary at Brite Divinity on the campus of Texas Christian University. I was licensed as a Master Level Social Worker after graduating with my Ph.D. While in seminary I was a Medical Social Worker, and then after graduation, I worked for a Psychiatric Hospital in their inpatient and outpatient facilities for several years. I have since worked for Addictions & Rehabilitative residential treatment facilities and am currently an Associate Professor in the BSW Program Director in the Department of Social Work at Tarleton State University. I have been at Tarleton going on ten years. I continue to serve in a psychiatric hospital setting as PRN at Mesa Springs Behavioral Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. I am also a licensed and ordained Baptist Minister and serve as an Associate Minister at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas where I work with the Youth Ministry and Wellness Ministry.
How did your participation in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core influence your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?
The Baylor Interdisciplinary Core made a significant impact on my life in different ways. I have always been an introvert, and it was difficult for me to engage with other students who did not look like me or share similar experiences that I have had. My upbringing and exposure was completely different from many in my BIC cohort. I learned so much from different faculty, and I remember our trips to reflect on our faith and reflect on ourselves. I look back on those moments and realize God was always with me even when I did not understand. Those times were worth it even when I did not feel like I understood. Reverend Dr. Lynn Tatum saved my life. He cared about me as a student, and his honesty and transparency helped to keep me grounded. He challenged my mind and nurtured critical thinking skills that have served me for many years. The power of group solidarity found in programs like BIC stays with me, and I have used this important "group" model in my role as BSW Program Director encouraging students to work together and to build together for the greater good.
Do you have any favorite memories from your time at Baylor?
My favorite memories are my times as a part of Heavenly Voices, the gospel choir. We would travel to various church outings within the state and sing gospel songs. It was one of my ways to stay connected with my culture and biblical teachings. I also LOVED Dr. Pepper hour and MLK Day when we would walk and sing "We Shall Overcome" through the campus at night holding candles.
Who was a mentor you had during your Baylor experience? How did their investment impact you?
Dr. Tyler Horner and Professor Ann Ellis were the first professors/teachers in my life who ever saw "me." They called on me and they encouraged me to participate in class. They helped me see that I had a voice and that my voice mattered. I will never forget their impact on my life by just calling on me and asking me what I thought. As I grew more familiar and involved with the social work faculty, my greatest mentor was Dr. Gaynor Yancey---a wise and humble soul. I love her. She taught me the importance of macro practice and caring about communities. She always embraced my words, no matter how immature, and she always knew how to respond. I remember every professional observation she shared with me from awareness of email etiquette to the importance of healthy boundaries. She even served on my doctoral committee and has always been supportive of my goals.
Do you have any advice for current students in the Honors College?
Take advantage of getting to know more about those sitting next to you. The value of friendship and relationships are so valuable. Looking back, I wish I would have spent additional time getting to know more of my colleagues/peers during those moments of insecurity and fear. Stay encouraged and reach out to faculty to help you explore those areas of discomfort. That is how you will grow!
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences. I pray for your security and peace. May God cover and protect you during your years at Baylor and forevermore. Remember to be the change that you ultimately want to see in the world.