Baylor Senior Bianca Hill Chosen as a National Transfer Student Ambassador
by Jessie Jilovec, student newswriter
WACO, Texas (Nov. 5, 2018) – Baylor University senior anthropology major Bianca Hill is a Baylor Bear through and through and has made it her personal mission to help others feel that way too.
She shares her contact information with every prospective student, picks them up from the airport or bus station when visiting Baylor, gives personal tours of campus when the visitors center is closed and has dinner or coffee with prospective students and their families over campus breaks, all to make transfer students feel welcome and at home at Baylor.
Because of her efforts helping transfer students, Hill was selected as one of four National Transfer Student Ambassadors for 2019 by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students.
"Baylor has changed my life and helped me become a healthier, happier and brighter light, while also giving me places that I would not otherwise have to let that light shine," Hill said. "I want every other student to experience that joy, so any time a door opens up for me to make that happen, I skip, jump and cartwheel through it."
Joe Oliver, director of Baylor's Office of Transfer Student Success, nominated Hill for the ambassadorship. He said Hill is one of the most engaged students he has worked with in his 14 years in higher education.
As a first generation college student, Latina and transfer student, Hill could connect her challenges and experiences to a diverse population of current and future Baylor students, Oliver said.
"Bianca first came to me for guidance and assistance while starting her Baylor journey," Oliver said. "It soon became apparent that Bianca would offer far more to me and Baylor transfer students than I could offer her."
Janet Marling, Ph.D., executive director for National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, said Hill was chosen as an ambassador because she stood out from other applicants due to her evident devotion to the well-being of transfer students.
"Although all four winners demonstrated excellence in leadership, public speaking and their potential for sharing meaningful information with higher education transfer professionals, it was Bianca's passion and exceptional storytelling skills that separated her application from the rest."
Journey to Baylor
Hill started college at another university, but said it never felt right. Due to various struggles with anxiety, depression and being away from home along with a series of unexpected hospitalizations during her first year, Hill decided to return home and take time to go to community college to give herself time to heal.
After receiving her associate's degree from Brookhaven Community College in Farmers Branch, Texas, she transferred to Baylor. She said everything fell into place and became more connected to herself and academics than ever before.
"At Baylor, I have become more academically engaged and successful than I ever have been and certainly grew my leadership abilities and ability to balance both exciting new life opportunities and my health," Hill said.
Soon after she arrived at Baylor, Hill began serving on transfer leadership teams, offering a student voice on campus leadership committees, leading the Transfer Student Ambassador program and interning in the Office of Transfer Student Success. She said while interning, she was able to learn from the transfer students she met who represent a variety of demographics.
"Through their shared stories, I began to understand the myriad of ways transfers face different challenges than traditional students," Hill said. "I have seen how our success and abilities to contribute meaningfully to our sweet Baylor home are dependent on when and how well those different needs are met. I try to take every chance I get to make those needs known and help solve our problems."
An active voice for transfer students
The NISTS is a competition recognizing outstanding transfer students. Nominees submit several items describing their journey as a transfer, advocacy efforts for transfer students and how personal interests match the ambassadorship opportunity. Hill said she was in shock but was grateful when she learned she received this honor.
"Big organizations like NISTS and what they stand for can sometimes seem so far removed from our daily work and becoming anything more than just a passive participant in their mission can seem unrealistic," Hill said. "Getting to be just that – an active voice with a listening audience in a national organization – is exciting and very humbling."
In her role as an ambassador, Hill will write for the NISTS website, attend the 17th annual NISTS conference in February in Atlanta where she will contribute to various in-conference projects, be recognized at the annual awards ceremony and represent Baylor as a panelist and conference presenter. Prior to the conference, she will help plan and promote the conference and use her platform to work with Oliver and Baylor's Transfer Student Success office.
Hill said Baylor has equipped her to serve others by caring for herself in meaningful ways, and she is humbled to take what Baylor has given her to represent Baylor and more than one million transfer students across the nation.
"Every transfer student may struggle to adjust to their new school," Hill said. "With the support they need, every transfer student can also experience great success and personal growth."
For more information about transfer student success at Baylor, contact Joe Oliver at 254-710-2775 or Joe_Oliver@baylor.edu.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.