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Bears For Life wins Group of the Year at national conference

Jan. 27, 2010

By Katy Mcdowall

Bears for Life, Baylor's student anti-abortion organization, was named "Group of the Year" by the Students for Life of America and awarded $1,000 Saturday at the Students for Life of America National Conference in Washington D.C.

Five members of the group and their faculty sponsors, Dr. Douglas Henry and Dr. John Pisciotta, traveled to D.C. from Thursday until Sunday.

They took part in the annual March for Life and met with legislators, and also attended the conference.

Henry is an associate professor of philosophy and Pisciotta is an associate professor of economics.

"I came to the conference not expecting to win an award or anything like that," Bears for Life President and Houston junior Rachana Chhin said. "I remember applying for it but not expecting to win."

Other schools that attended the conference included Boston College, Tulane and Cornell, many of which have larger and more established pro-life organizations.

"When they announced us, I was so surprised."Chhin said.

Chhin was joined on the trip by Bears for Life secretary and Boerne junior Danielle Washington, Houston sophomore Frances Padilla; Neodesha, Kan., junior Ethan Barrett; and Mesquite junior Phuong Luu.

"I was so surprised," Washington said. "I don't think any of us were expecting it. It was really emotional because I've been with Bears for Life since there were just a handful of members."

Bears for Life was established at Baylor in 1997, but only had two members when Chhin joined in his freshman year.

Since then the organization has grown and become more active with a total of about 20 members, Chhin said.

"What the award recognizes is the day-in and day-out quiet work that the group does here back in Waco," Henry said.

The organization annually holds a Roe v. Wade flag display on Fountain Mall, as well as hosting movie screenings and working with crisis pregnancy centers in the community.

"Sometimes you don't think you're doing much, but in a way you are," Chhin said. "Scripture says none of the work that you do for God is done in vain. Sometimes you may think you're doing little things that aren't making any impact, but really in the grand scheme of things you actually are."

On the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade last Friday the group attended the annual March for Life on the National Mall with hundreds of thousands of other people.

"Even if it's one step at a time, I feel like we're still making a difference," Padilla said. "This year it was bigger than it had been in past years, so I feel even more so like I was being a part of the cause."

The march included speakers from different religious leaders and leaders of the pro-life movement.

"As my first time there, I was really encouraged to see all of the solidarity that I felt being with other pro-lifers, because even though the recent Gallup Polls say we're the majority of Americans, it doesn't always feel like that," Chhin said.

Another advocate present at the march was Baylor alumnus Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.

Prior to the march, the group had a chance to meet Cao.

"He stopped everything he was doing to meet with us," Padilla said.

The meeting with Cao was especially important to Luu, who, like Cao, is a Vietnamese immigrant.

"It showed me that as long as I have a dream, as long as I have a goal, then I will be successful no matter what," Luu said.

Back in Waco, the members say they have not yet decided what to do with their reward.

"We're trying to process where to go from here," Chhin said. "Being recognized as the Group of the Year is something we're really proud about, but we want to honor that and make good use of the award we have gotten."