#BaylorLights Profile: Zach Mills

December 3, 2018
Zach Mills
"A lot of Ph.D. programs think of you as a brain on a stick. They’re about what you produce in the classroom -- your papers, the quality of your scholarship. They wouldn’t say that they don’t care about you, but that’s not their job. Their job is to form you as an academic.

"But it was clear that that wasn’t the case at #Baylor. As I talked to faculty, as I was getting to know the program, they wanted to know about my family, about my job, about my whole self, not just my academic self.

"Specifically, if you want one person who has shown me the light of God, it would be Jeff Strietzel, who is a Ph.D. candidate. ... I met him at a professional conference probably four to five years ago now, before Baylor was really even on my radar, and he wasn’t at Baylor yet, either. We exchanged business cards, didn’t think much of it. ... Through a crazy, God coincidence, I reconnected with him and said, ‘Hey, will you tell me about your experience?’ ... He was just really, really, incredibly gracious, and was telling me how he made it work financially -- because we get a generous stipend, but not nearly how much we were making as full-time staff. ‘Here’s how we’re making it work with family time, because it’s really demanding to be a Ph.D. student. Here’s how we figured out insurance and all of those things.’ He was just really open, more than he needed to be, and it made me feel like ‘Alright, if he can make it work, then I can do that, too.’ So he just was and has been so incredible in just being a peer who is really open and encouraging."

Zach Mills
-- Doctoral candidate in higher education studies & leadership
-- Father of two
-- Baylor History Tour guide
-- One of thousands of #BaylorLights
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