Note from the Director — Spring 2017

Hello BIC Alums,

I hope each of you has had a rejuvenating spring. I taught an amazing History of Classical Philosophy course this semester. I added a more explicitly political focus to the course. We read the Republic rather than the Symposium and added in sections of Aristotle’s Politics along with the Ethics. I had the additional good fortune of having almost half the class comprised of BICers. It was wonderful seeing the fruits of a BIC education, both in terms of what they had clearly learned, but even more in the ways that the BIC students exhibited an ability to engage in charitable discussion practices even in the midst of moments of discomfort and disagreement. This class was also particularly meaningful to me because of how politically engaged and aware all the students were. These young philosophically engaged Baylor students give me a great deal of hope for the future of our democratic practices.

With all the political turmoil of recent months, it is clear that more and more people are getting involved in their communities on the local, state, and national levels. I wanted to take just a moment to remind you that you can also get involved as alumni with your BIC community. There are many ways to reconnect with and give back to the BIC. You might want to return to campus and meet with current BIC students, or perhaps you would like to serve as a Mentor in our recently developed BIC Alumni Mentor Program. There is also the opportunity to connect with BIC students for one-time informational interviews about your career, or if you are currently in graduate or professional school, you might be able to connect with a BIC student to help them think through graduate school options. If writing is more your preference, you might consider writing an article for the BIC blog or agreeing to be interviewed for the BIC blog. The best way to get started is to take 5 minutes and complete our Reconnect with BIC online form. We will ask you a few questions and we can go from there. Of course, you can also stay connected with us by following us on Facebook, LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

I wish you all a wonderful spring and summer.

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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Alumni Updates — Spring 2017

We hope you enjoy reading all the latest personal and professional updates from our BIC alumni. We post these updates once each year, usually during the spring semester. We also post various alumni interviews throughout the year. If you would like to contribute an update for a future post, please email us at BIC@baylor.edu. Enjoy!

Emily Wininger Callahan (’00) and Jason Callahan (’00) just celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. They live in Memphis where Emily is the Chief Marketing Officer, for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the largest healthcare charity in America. For the past two years St. Jude has been named the highest quality brand of any brand in the Harris Interactive Survey of over 95,000 consumers and 3,500 for-profit and non-profit brands. Emily serves as the vice chair for the Memphis Brand Initiative and is on the board of the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis. Jason is the VP for HR and Risk Management for Truck Pro, the nation’s largest independent distributor of heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. He serves on the national board for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and First Tee of Memphis. They have two children, a daughter, Emerson (7) and son, Jennings (4) who are Baylor Bear fans already.

Craig Henderson (’00) graduated from Baylor with a BS in Computer Science.  He graduated from University of the Pacific School of Law in 2006, and has been practicing civil litigation in Las Vegas, Nevada, since.  He and his wife, Samantha M. Henderson, MSN, APN, FNP have two children, Gwendolyn, born April 8, 2016, and Floyd, born April 17, 2014.  They enjoy spending as much time as they can with the kids during their free time, including hiking at Red Rock and Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas.

John Erickson, MD (’00) graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and now practices orthopedic surgery in Raleigh, NC. He is a partner at the Raleigh Hand Center and specializes in hand and upper extremity care. His wife Kimberly is a pediatric surgeon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have one daughter named Annie, and they enjoy the outdoors, traveling, and watching Baylor football. Read our recent interview with Dr. Erickson.

Becky Oberg (’01)  recently published her second book, a Bible study for sexual assault survivors called “Comforting Tamar“.  It’s available on Amazon and Kindle as an ebook, and the publisher is Nortia Press.

Lynne (Pennington) Kujawa (’02) married fellow Baylor Bear Marcus Kujawa (’03) in Aubrey, TX on September 16, 2016. After graduating from Baylor, Lynne taught mathematics at Plano Senior High School, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2003. She moved to Denver, CO in 2005 and earned her Master’s degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Colorado in 2014. Lynne taught mathematics at Cherry Creek High School from 2005-2016, and moved back to Texas in July 2016 to marry Marcus. They currently live in Dallas, TX , where Lynne teaches mathematics at Highland Park High School and Marcus is a real estate partner at Liberty Banker’s Life.

Julie (Smith) Bennett (’03) and her husband Wesley welcomed their first child, Sadie Evangeline, on June 13, 2016. The Crosby, Texas couple both started 2017 with new jobs and are excited for all that is to come. Wes is a Mechanical Engineer and Julie teaches high school history in Kingwood.

 

Kristin C. Jones, MD (’03)  graduated from Baylor as a pre-med, forensic science major with biology and chemistry minors. She went on to attend medical school at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed one year of Internal Medicine residency at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and 3 years of Psychiatry residency at Emory University before completing an additional year of fellowship training in Geriatric Psychiatry at Emory University.  She has held a faculty position as an Assistant Professor at Emory University overseeing their Electroconvulsive Therapy program for one year, before returning home to Houston, TX where she currently works as an Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine overseeing Geriatric Psychiatry services at Ben Taub Hospital and performing ECT.

Major Trevor Cichowski (’04) is headed back to Japan this summer for a second three-year tour of Asia with the US Air Force. Trevor just finished a year at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he earned his second masters degree, this one in National Security Studies.  Trevor and Jenny, and his kids Katie and CJ, can’t wait to explore more of Japan as he settles into his job in Misawa, flying the F-16 and working as the Chief of Safety for the 35th Fighter Wing.  He’ll be in Waco this summer to participate in the TriWaco triathlon, and can’t wait to see how the Baylor campus has grown since he graduated in ’04!

Laurin (Rennell) Samuelson (’05) and her husband of 3.5 years, Jon Samuelson, reside in Austin, TX and are expecting their second daughter in May.  Their daughter, Hanna, will turn two in April.  Laurin has worked at Accenture for over 10 years providing IT Consulting and Sales for government clients.

 

Ashley (Turner) Parker (’05) currently lives in west Plano, Texas with her husband and their dog, a large goldendoodle named Ollie.  After Baylor, Ashley earned her Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University and currently works for Expedia, Inc. as the Director & Head of Brand Marketing for Travelocity.  She met her husband, an attorney practicing labor and employment law in Dallas, in 2010 and they have been married for 4 years. They spend their free time running, traveling and keeping up with friends!

Sondra N. Barringer (’06) went on to receive her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Arizona. She recently returned to Texas to take a position as an Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Leadership at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University. Her research focus is at the intersection of the governance and finances of colleges and universities, social networks, and organizational theory. She is currently working on two National Science Foundation funded grant projects and teaching courses on higher education governance and leadership, research methods, and statistics.  Continue reading

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2017 Senior Banquet Speech — Dr. Charles McDaniel

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017 we gathered to celebrate the BIC graduating students of 2017. As part of the banquet, Dr. Charles McDaniel, associate professor in BIC, was invited as the honored faculty speaker. We hope you enjoy reading his edited remarks from that evening’s festivities. 

———————

This is not just a “go forth and do good” speech.  Many of you know me too well and would instantly recognize that as a con, and as those of you who’ve attended my classes know, perhaps all too well, I’m not one to sugar coat things. Besides, there are complications associated with doing good these days that didn’t seem to exist when I left Baylor and entered the workforce those many years ago.  You enter a unique situation in the history of Baylor graduates, and unique in this case doesn’t necessarily mean good. The nation’s international prestige has taken a hit in recent years and our position as the world’s superpower, while perhaps militarily intact, is no longer culturally assumed.  Traveling abroad today one often encounters skepticism and even, at times, derision for being an American.  My site visit for the Baylor in St. Andrews Program shortly after last fall’s presidential election made that point clear to me.

Traveling domestically, it is apparent that your university has become the subject of much controversy.  Serious mistakes have been made and if our Christianness means anything, we must recognize that there are consequences to “our” actions, whether or not those in this room have been directly involved.  We are all part of the university culture and, as such, we have much to make up for.

Yet in the face of those challenges, I wish to affirm the choice you’ve made by choosing the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. You’ve swum against the current to an extent.  Core education, in general, has taken it on the chin in recent years.  You will soon enter your professional lives emerging from a unique interdisciplinary core curriculum in Baylor’s Honors College at a time when the very notion of an educational core is under assault.

Despite such negative attitudes, I would suggest that there has never been a greater need for comprehensively educated individuals like yourselves.  Continue reading

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Candace Weddle Livingston (’99)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Candace Weddle Livingston (’99). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 1999 with a BA in Classics and a Minor in Art History. I also took quite a few courses in Museum Studies (in addition to my BIC core).

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am an Assistant Professor of Art History at The South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University (in Anderson, SC, near Greenville). My university is smaller than Baylor but it is also a private Baptist institution, so it feels comfortable to me. The most enjoyable aspect of my career is that I am constantly learning new things. The research I carry out to develop new courses for our Art History curriculum keeps me feeling engaged and invigorated.

Although it’s not technically a job, I also spend several weeks each summer in Europe and sometimes the Middle East, giving lectures about art and archaeology on a cruise ship that specializes in visiting places of historical and archaeological interest. I enjoy interacting with audiences made up of interesting people from around the world who share a love of history, while visiting many sites I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see. For example, while on the ship I have visited six of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (I just need the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to complete the set, a tricky one because they are located in Iraq).

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

There are many ways I could answer this question, because the BIC experience has had an impact on many areas of my life. In a general sense, it gave me a great curiosity about the world around me, which has led me down career paths that involve much international travel. Although I was not able to travel abroad with the BIC while at Baylor (though I did participate in the wonderful Baylor in Italy program with the Classics department!), the World Cultures sequence opened my eyes to the rich cultural mosaic of the world and made me thirst to see it all.

Because I have made a career in academia, the BIC has impacted me in a very direct way in my approach to teaching. One of my BIC professors, Dr. Alden Smith of the Classics department, counseled me once – years after I had graduated from Baylor and was finishing my PhD at the University of Southern California –  that I should never shy away from teaching a course just because it did not fall within my area of expertise. The broad range of material to which I was introduced in the BIC, and the opportunity to see the approaches of scholars from a variety of disciplines in action, gave me the confidence to put his advice into practice. Diving in to prepare and teach classes on material outside my comfort zone – such as the arts of the Pacific islands or of West Africa – is not as daunting a task as it might have been had I not had the BIC experience. Interdisciplinary training teaches one, most importantly, that no area of inquiry is off-limits or inherently foreign, as long as it is approached with an open mind and genuine curiosity. In addition, interdisciplinary training conveys the invaluable lesson that no one person need be a master of all trades, and that admitting our own limitations is not a weakness but a strength, as it can lead to collaboration, which in turn leads to exciting new knowledge.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

What comes to mind immediately is all the cool technology we got to play with! Those were the early days of portable GPS units, and I remember being divided into teams and taken into a field and tasked with finding our way back out. The fact that most of us have that capability on our cellphones now is incredible. Another time, we participated in a weekend training course to become amateur storm watchers and had the opportunity to tour the interior of a tornado-chasing van, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Probably the thing that has had the most long-term impact, however, was my BIC World Cultures IV course. I don’t know what it looks like in its current version, but those of us in the first BIC cohort were assigned a world culture with which we had little or no previous experience and asked to apply as many of the methods we had learned in earlier courses as possible to an analysis of that culture. I was randomly placed in a class on the Zulu culture, which was incredibly foreign to me, with a professor who had grown up in Zululand (as the son of missionaries, I believe). I loved learning about a topic I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to study in depth, and that experience has aided me in understanding certain aspects of African tribal art and culture, something I now teach in a limited fashion in my own courses.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

The benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration continue to inform my career. My research on the sensory experience of Greco-Roman sacrifices has been enriched immeasurably by the inclusion of methodologies from fields outside of classics and art history – notably anthropology – which is a path I would likely never have taken without having seen interdisciplinary scholarship modeled for me so strongly in the BIC. Not surprisingly, I am a proponent of similar approaches in the classroom. Over the past two years I have been involved in a ground-up redesign of my university’s Core Curriculum and have lobbied strongly for the inclusion of team-taught courses with an interdisciplinary focus, which did make it into the final plan approved by our faculty. I hope to be involved in teaching one of those courses in the near future.

What are your goals for the future?

A short-term goal is to involve Anderson University students in archaeological field work, specifically by bringing them to the Baylor field school in Italy (co-led by Dr. Davide Zori of the BIC and Dr. Colleen Zori of the Anthropology department) at the amazing Etruscan/Roman/medieval site of San Giuliano. I was excited to be involved as a classical archaeology consultant in the inaugural year of the excavation in 2016, and am eager to see how the project evolves in coming years.

A goal that will take more time is the completion of my current book manuscript, a study of the sensory experience of Greek and Roman animal sacrifices. I would also like to write a historical fiction novel (my favorite genre for pleasure reading), putting my knowledge of the ancient world to use in a different way. I’ve even kicked around the idea of making it into a graphic novel with the help of my husband Todd Livingston, an award-winning author of numerous comics and graphic novels.

A long-term life goal is to visit all seven continents (3 to go!).

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Alumni Interview — Ross Natividad (’10)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Ross Natividad (’10). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2010 with a BA in Spanish and International Studies and in 2012 with an MA in Spanish.  After teaching English in Indonesia for a year (read about Ross’s experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia), I attended William & Mary Law School and graduated in 2016.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am currently clerking for the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia (Roanoke).  I work closely with five judges and assist them with their court hearings and opinions.  I really enjoy being exposed to different aspects of the law, ranging from criminal, civil, family, and administrative issues.  By attending court on a daily basis, I’m able to appreciate the various ways attorneys advocate for their clients and, in turn, how justice is fairly administered.  Many people rely on the courts to resolve disputes, seek relief, or express their rights—being a part of this process is the most rewarding part of my job.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

In so many ways!  Particularly, BIC encouraged me to embrace and immerse myself in other cultures.  After graduating, I took advantage of an opportunity to live and teach English in West Timor, Indonesia.  The experience was life-changing. From learning how to adapt to a new way of life to making lasting friendships along the way, I experienced first-hand—just as BIC continues to teach its students—the importance of cultural awareness.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

Hands down, my capstone course with Professors Wright and Hanks.  I especially enjoyed our class discussions and assigned readings (like Life of Pi).  The professors did an AMAZING job of structuring our classes, which led to lively conversations not just on the text but about our lives in general.  It was probably the best class I’ve ever had.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

Of course, we’ve been trained to never forget that the unexamined life is not worth living! On top of that, BIC helped me embrace—and not shy away from—challenges in life.  Whether it’s educational, professional, or personal, I know there’s always something to be learned from those challenges.

What are your plans for the future?

I will be getting married this September in Roanoke, VA.  My fiancé and I are excited to be moving back to Texas, where we’ll be working and both have family and close friends.

Is there anything else would you like to share?

Thank you BIC faculty and staff for everything you do for your students.  You’ve given us many tools and skills in preparation for the “real world.”  It’s a truly remarkable experience once we start applying what you’ve taught us.

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Faculty Interview — Dr. Davide Zori

Dr. Davide Zori is an assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, teaching World Cultures I and II, Social World I, and medieval history courses in the history department. Dr. Zori also directs the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project, which is part of the Baylor in Italy summer study abroad trip. We hope you enjoy learning more about one of our BIC faculty members.

Tell us some about your background and journey to becoming a professor in the BIC.

I was born on the island of Fyn in Denmark to a Danish mother and an Italian-born American father. My parents were committed to our family’s multiculturalism. Every summer my parents put down the backseat of our Fiat Uno and piled my brother and me into the back for the 24-hour drive to the Italy. From the start, I have lived between cultures. This was challenging sometimes, such as the period during my early teens when my parents traded the Fiat Uno for a slew of plane tickets as we moved back and forth from Denmark to Florida multiple times. The cultural shifts were difficult, but they made me adaptable and able to ‘fit in’ in different cultures. Being an American teen is different from being a Danish team, which in turn is very different from being an Italian teen. I do firmly believe, however, that cultural adaptability is one of our human strengths. In my experience, I could change languages, stress particular interests, change my clothes (a bit), and find the right shoes for each country while embracing the “non-definability” of Danish-Italian-American identity. Possibly the greatest gift from this experience was the ability to speak several languages. My experiences informed many of my basic assumptions about past cultures that I now study through archaeological excavation and ancient texts. Looking back now, I see that my childhood experiences set the stage for my professional interests in cultural variation and an academic career facilitated by successful inter-cultural communication.

After finishing my PhD at UCLA in interdisciplinary archaeology, I spent three years in Iceland doing post-doctoral research and excavation at a Viking chieftain’s farm. My archaeological work there was inherently interdisciplinary, combining Viking sagas, archaeological data, and the newest technological advances in geophysics and computing. Through my work I became further convinced that interdisciplinarity—particularly work at the intersections of sciences and humanities—is the major engine that drives innovative research. In Iceland, I also found my son speaking three languages (Danish with me, English with his mother, and Icelandic in school), and realized I had inadvertently replicated my own multi-cultural childhood for the next generation. Iceland was wonderful, but America called and I really wanted to pursue a career in academia that combined interdisciplinary research and with interdisciplinary teaching. The BIC was and remains perfect. Now in Waco we might find less opportunity for speaking Icelandic, but we have added to our family’s multiculturalism a certain Texan culture with great appreciation among my children of such local delicacies as Dr. Pepper and barbecued brisket.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching in BIC and working with BIC students?

I find the interaction with BIC students to be the most rewarding part of teaching. I most enjoy the classes where I can feel the enthusiasm for a primary text building as we peel back the layers of a text. I still get excited before each class to have the opportunity to sit together and discuss ancient texts and archaeology with students who share my enthusiasm. This makes my job easy to love. I am fortunate to teach courses covering the first three semester of the BIC curriculum. Through these first three semesters, I see the impact that BIC (and the wider college experience) can have on students as they grow in confidence and in their abilities to make concise arguments with specific evidence drawn from ancient texts, material culture, and social theory.

Tell us some about your current research. Where do you see your research going in the future?

My research seeks to unravel medieval political constellations and identify underlying strategies for creating the social relationships. I conduct archaeological field research to build new interpretations of early medieval power. My primary specialization is Viking Age Europe, with a particular focus on the political strategies of reciprocity and feasting. I conduct archaeological excavations in the North Atlantic, mostly in Iceland, although last summer I was searching for Vikings in Newfoundland. Simultaneously, I am using interdisciplinary archaeology methods and my interest in medieval social power to extend my research into other regions of medieval Europe, including most significantly medieval Italy, but also the material culture of the Crusades in the Levant. I am enjoying the expansion of my research area, which has allowed me to stand one summer in the remains of an Icelandic chieftain’s longhouse and the next summer to uncover the ruins of a medieval castle atop an Etrurian plateau in central Italy.

You are the Director of the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project, which is also part of the Baylor in Italy summer study abroad trip. Tell us some about this project and how you have been able to get BIC students involved in the research.

The San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project (SGARP) is a new transdisciplinary project that targets the archaeological past of San Giuliano, a site located approximately 70 km northwest of Rome within Marturanum Park in Lazio. SGARP’s goal is to reconstruct the long-term changes in human occupation of the San Giuliano plateau and the surrounding hills. Hundreds of rock-cut Etruscan tombs ring the plateau, while the plateau was likely the site of the associated Etruscan town. We seek to investigate the Etruscan occupation and understand the transitions that followed, including incorporation into the Roman Empire, transformations in the medieval settlement pattern, and the final abandonment of the site sometime before AD 1300. We have focused our attention on the Etruscan and medieval periods as eras of particularly significant societal change. These two periods saw the most intensified use of the San Giuliano plateau. We are seeking to understand both the rise and fall of the Etruscan urban center and the medieval incastellamento (castle-building) process that reshaped the Italian landscape in the 10th and 11th centuries.

This project has given me the opportunity to broaden my contact with BIC students. Last year five BIC students joined us in Italy – Emily Harding, Brad Sherrill, Lauren Sides, Charlotte Weston, and Ryan White. This has allowed me to continue working with some really great students and to further a university-wide initiative to get undergraduates involved in original research. From this work at least one student is writing an honors thesis on the archaeological material we uncovered in Italy.

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Alumni Interviews — Cameron Boone (’04)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Cameron Boone (’04). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in December, 2004 with a B.A. in history.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am currently a Vice President with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) in Houston.  I work as a commercial real estate appraiser in Valuation and Advisory Services where I focus on primarily on eminent domain and litigation support.

I look at appraisal like solving a puzzle; it can be very satisfying when all the pieces finally match up.  I also enjoy testifying as an expert witness.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

The BIC provided an integrated liberal arts education in a larger university setting – the best of both worlds!  I think my BIC education really shaped my view of the world.  It provided context for all types of thought – Christian, Western, Eastern, Modern, Postmodern, etc.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I really enjoyed visiting a Hindu temple, synagogue and mosque.  The perspective you get from actually attending a worship service is so much different than something you may read in a book or online.

I also fondly remember listening to music with Dr. Long in his office.  We shared the same taste in composers and artists and would turn each other on to new discoveries.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

That the unexamined life is not worth living, of course!  I also learned that there is always another side to a story.  Instead of tuning out or immediately denigrating those who might think different than we do, we should do our best to first try and understand their perspective and worldview.

What are your goals for the future?

God has blessed me with a wonderful Baylor Bear wife and three precious children.  I want to work hard so that one day my kids will be able to have the same educational opportunities that I had.  My hope is that one day they will chose to follow Christ and leave a positive legacy in this world.

Is there anything else would you like to share?

I recall having some of my Baylor professors attend my wedding.  I think that speaks volumes about the caliber of faculty we have at Baylor and the relationships that can be formed.

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Alumni Interviews — Farrah Najmuddin Lang (’09)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Farrah Najmuddin Lang (’09). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Political Science. I then went on to get my J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in November 2013.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I currently practice law with Alimohammad & Zafar, PLLC, a boutique law firm in Sugar Land, TX. I primarily practice family litigation and breach of contract litigation. I really enjoy litigating. Only a few cases will get to the point that I have to be in front of a judge arguing my case, but those few are really exhilarating. I also really enjoy the closure and resolution when a case is completed, regardless of whether it’s at trial or through a settlement. Knowing that a client can now move forward with their life and I was able to help them get to that point is very satisfying.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

BIC taught me not to look at the world in a vacuum, both personally and professionally. Everything we do touches and affects the world around us. It’s important to understand the power of education and communication. As a society, the more we can learn about each other and from each other, the better our likelihood at making actual and substantial progress.

BIC taught me that people, in general, are more similar then they are different, but we have to be open to the differences.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I have lots of wonderful memories from BIC and I loved all of the field trips. But, I have to say that some of favorite memories are from just studying for exams, usually for a Cultures class. We would get together either somewhere on campus or at someone’s apartment and sit in a big circle and quiz each other about the material for hours the night before an exam. There was always a lot of laughter and good discussion.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

In my capstone course, with Drs. Lynn Tatum and Ann McGlashan, we read Letters to a Young Poet, by Ranier Marie Rilke. There’s a passage in the book that says “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.” I think about this passage quite often. Life is always presenting more questions than answers and this quote reminds me that it is the questions themselves that make life interesting. The answers will come in their own time.

What are your goals for the future?

I hope to continue to practice law for a while, but I would like to eventually move into public policy. While I was at Baylor, I had the opportunity to work in the Texas legislature, which was an unforgettable and priceless experience. I think one day, I would like to get back to a more policy-based career.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I want to thank my BIC professors. I won’t list them, out of fear of leaving someone out, but I can easily think of many professors, and their classes, that have had a lasting impact on me. I don’t know that I appreciated their enthusiasm for the material and the program while I was at Baylor. I think BIC is a wonderful program that not only prepared me for law school and practicing law, but also taught me to strive to be a better person.

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Reflections from Auschwitz — Jake Shanley

Article by Jake Shanley, current BIC student

This past summer, I had the chance to travel to Europe for two weeks on a Christian pilgrimage. Every 3 years, 2.5 million young Catholic Christians (usually between 15 to 25 years old) travel to a designated place in the world for an event called “World Youth Day.” This past summer, the destination was Krakow, Poland. While there are many things I could talk about, I want to discuss my time in Auschwitz and how it relates to the theme of the pilgrimage: God’s Mercy.

The concentration camp Auschwitz is located two or so hours outside of Krakow. I’ll attempt to describe our moment there. As you walk into the camp of Auschwitz, the foreboding sign “Arbeit macht frei” hangs over the archway. It’s an obvious lie—“work sets you free”—used by the Nazis to coerce Jewish and other religious and ethnic prisoners to work until their deaths. While walking around one can read signs describing the function of certain buildings. “This was a gas chamber,” or “this was where the Jewish prisoners lived.”

There’s a sign on the corner of a bare wall on one of the buildings, with a picture of a Catholic priest, named Maximilian Kolbe. He had been captured by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz, and ministered to other prisoners with spiritual help during their occupation. One day, a prisoner escaped, and the concentration camp staff decided to execute twelve Jewish prisoners in his place. One man started weeping, crying out that he had a wife and kids, and they would be fatherless and have no way of support for themselves. Maximilian Kolbe stepped out of a group watching the execution, and volunteered to take the man’s place instead. For two weeks, Kolbe and the prisoners were sent to a “starving room,” where they would be starved out until their deaths. Kolbe was the last one to survive, and was injected by the guards with a lethal injection of carbolic acid to finish him off.

Seeing the site of his martyrdom, and all of the other one million Jewish prisoners, begged multiple questions. One we had to ask was this: for a pilgrimage revolving around “God’s Mercy,” where was His Mercy in all of this?

God’s mercy lies in the fact that every single person is made in His image—Nazi ideology distorted this truth. The example of Maximilian Kolbe and similar figures like Dietrich Bonheoffer shows that this truth extends to every person regardless of race, religion, or class. As BIC students, when we read the holy book of a different religion in World Cultures or simply converse with someone we do not agree with, we need to “love our neighbor” and not let differences get in the way seeing every person through the lens of God’s Mercy. Auschwitz did not happen overnight—it occurred from German citizens forgetting to love daily across the differences around them, and recognizing the dignity of all people made in His Image.

Jake Shanley is a sophomore BIC student majoring in philosophy.

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Brian Dixon (’02)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Brian Dixon (’02). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I was BIC Delta Class, from 1998 to 2002. I received a BA in Psychology and completed the pre-med curricula.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

Currently I have a thriving private psychiatry practice in Fort Worth where I spend most of my days working with adult and child patients on mental health concerns. I’m also the current Medical Director for Behavioral Health Services at BaylorScott&White All Saints Medical Center.

What I enjoy the most about my work? Hope. The best part of my day is seeing restored hope in my patients eyes at the end of every appointment. Many come in for various reasons (anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD) and they leave feeling hopeful about their lives and their dreams. I have the best job in the world.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

BIC taught me critical thinking; to question “why, what, how” with practically everything I do. While it made for some painful growing through medical school and residency, questioning the status quo has expanded my worldview far more than I could have ever dreamed.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

Hands-down, the best experience from BIC was the camaraderie. We were an oddly close group of strangers who came together the fall of 1998. This was epitomized in the BIC Bulletin Board. Us “BIC(ker)ers” would discuss and argue about all sorts of things and the memory that sticks out the most if the musings about the idea of “Christian university” being mutually exclusive or not. I think those discussions still resound today.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

Social World and “paradigm shifts.” When I experienced physician burnout, I started a nonprofit as a vehicle for healthcare reform and have built it into a movement to reform a 3.2 trillion dollar industry. My website: www.changehealth.today tackles the uncomfortable fundamentals of healthcare and social responsibility. Like the painful shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism, our understanding of healthcare needs a foundational paradigm shift. I hope to spark that discussion in 2017.

What are your goals for the future?

In addition to healthcare reform and eliminating mental health stigma, I aim to foster authentic and meaningful discussions on race and culture. As an African-American in the age of post-Obama America, I have a unique perspective on how we can celebrate variations in culture without disparagement or alienation. I aim to help bring this into our collective social consciousness.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I can say, without a hint of doubt, that BIC helped me become the person I am today.

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