New BICLC President: Rohit Ayyagari

rohit (landscape)

Rohit Ayyagari has been elected by the BIC Leadership Council as the 2015-2016 BICLC President. Rohit is a senior majoring in supply chain management and has been involved with BICLC since his freshman year. Congratulations to Rohit!

In addition, the following BIC students will serve as chairs of BICLC committees for 2015-2016:

Academic Committee: Rebecca Easley and Andres Umana

Alumni Committee: Rohit Ayyagari and Candace Woolverton

Events Committee: Daniel Chao and Kayla Murphy

QuickBIC and PR Committee: Ashanti Williams and Lee Shaw

[reposted from QuickBIC]

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First Day of World Cultures I

Alums, do you remember your first day in World Cultures 1? I think many of you will find something familiar in these photos.

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Alumni Interview — Dr. Bettina Drake (’01)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. At least once each year we hope to publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we are posting interviews with some of our alumni. This month we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Bettina Drake (’01). This interview was conducted by Nicole McDaniel, current Baylor student. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

Head ShotWhat is your current occupation? Can you describe your typical day at work?

I am an epidemiologist who works as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Public
Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. My research focuses
on cancer prevention and how prevention influences racial and socioeconomic disparities in cancer.

How has BIC helped you with your career? Did BIC prepare you for graduate school?

BIC encourages students to have a global perspective and to understand the benefits of cultural influences on their work. As an epidemiologist, I employ a multi-level approach to evaluate my research questions, which involves consideration of individual, community, and policy factors.

What was your major at Baylor and what other degrees have you earned?

I received a B.S. In Biochemistry with a minor in Sociology. I have also earned an MPH (Master’s in Public Health), a PhD in Epidemiology, and I completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard School of Public Health

What was your favorite thing about the BIC program? What classes did you find the most interesting? Which classes did you find the most beneficial?

My favorite thing about the BIC program was the trip to Mexico my Freshman year. My favorite class and likely most beneficial was Writing and Speaking.

Why did you choose to be a part of the BIC program?

I was a member of the first BIC class. It was an exciting curriculum that provided a well-rounded perspective to my basic science course load.

How did you manage your time between BIC classes, extra curricular activities, major focus classes, etc.?

I was part of a cohort of BIC classmates who lived close together, which was great for study groups and out-of-class discussions.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Hold on to the global perspective that BIC provides. It will be useful no matter what career you choose.

Lastly, what is your favorite Baylor memory?

I met my husband at Baylor. He, too is a BIC alum!

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Alumni Interview — Capt. Laura LeFevre (’08)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. At least once each year we hope to publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we are posting interviews with some of our alumni. This month we are excited to post an interview with Capt. Laura LeFevre (’08). This interview was conducted during the spring semester of 2015 by Katie Zamora (’18), current BIC student. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at


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

I graduated from Baylor back in 2008! I can’t believe it was that long ago, because I feel like I just left! I studied International Studies with a concentration in Eastern Europe (mainly Russia). I studied Russian while I was there and was fortunate to be able to study abroad in Voronezh, Russia. It was a great experience.

When you began your undergraduate did you know exactly what you wanted to do? If not, did the BIC help you discover your passion?

Ever since I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to do something with International Affairs. I really loved my Global Studies class that I took freshmen year of high school. I knew that was the area I wanted to work in, but it wasn’t until a trip I took to DC that I met some State Department Ambassadors. It was then that a world was opened up to me.

When I arrived on campus, I visited the AF ROTC booth at orientation and decided that military service not only could help pay for college (we all know how expensive Baylor is) as well as give me federal service time, while I was trying to apply to the State Department.

What was your favorite part of the BIC? (So far mine has been the field trips we’ve taken to the Hindu Temple and the Mosque)

You have great taste. :) World Cultures was not surprisingly my favorite class. Everything about the class was enjoyable, especially the field trips. I often refer back to those times at work. There is so much that you get to learn and take away from those classes that you’ll get to share with your co-workers and friends.

Can you tell us some about your professional journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you currently doing for a career?

After graduation from Baylor, I commissioned in the United States Air Force. It has definitely been one whirlwind adventure and I’ve loved every minute of it. There is a lot of trust and faith that the Air Force places on its young Airmen, both enlisted and officers. Every job I’ve had within the Air Force has been a challenge in different ways; in my first assignment, they entrusted me with leading a group of over 30 individuals who supported some amazing operations, such as assisting the Haitian government after the earthquake in 2010, and eventually I was put in charge of a flight of 120 individuals at 26 years old. Of course, I had a strong group of individuals, Non-Commissioned Officers, that helped guide me through a very busy time. Some of them had 15 or more years of experience, and as a team we got through some very difficult times. I’ve also been fortunate to deploy multiple times, where I had the honor of supporting and working with amazingly talented US Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers, as well as, other countries’ militaries. Even though it has been almost 7 years since I graduated, there isn’t a day I am not able to glean some insight from what I learned during my BIC days. From my experiences within world religions or from the reading the many great texts we were exposed to, all this knowledge has definitely shaped how I handle the diverse and complex issues that arise while at work.

Do you think the BIC has contributed to your development as an Air Force Officer?

It absolutely has. From critical thinking to writing, all of the classes that I took in BIC really set me up well for my career. I’d say BIC helped out with more than just my work. Because BIC goes back to the foundations and basics of learning, I am able to tackle many different tasks and problems in my life. It allows me to relate to many people and cultures. I have lived and spent time in over 10 different countries since I joined the military.

What are some of your goals for the future?

I have always wanted to know that I contributed to more than just myself, given more than I received. Right now, serving in the military gives me a very real picture of what I contribute to and the lives that I am able to help. It also gives me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn from them, and understand their perspectives. The Air Force has given me many priceless experiences, and I know that I want to continue affecting the international community, and only God knows whether that is within the federal government or the private sector, I’m still not quite sure where this journey will take me.

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Alumni Interview — Dr. Omoniyi Omotoso (’00)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. At least once each year we hope to publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we are posting interviews with some of our alumni. This month we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Omoniyi Omotoso (’00). This interview was conducted by Clarissa Charles (’15), current BIC student. We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at


What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study and what extra curricular activities did you participate in?

I’m in the Class of 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry. My activities included organizations such as the premedical Honor Society (AED) where I became an officer and partook in the creation of the African Students Association (ASA) as well as Baylor soccer club.

When did you feel called to be a physician and/or a pediatrician?

I was leaning towards the discipline by the time I graduated from high school, and while at Baylor University I found a few opportunities to observe physicians in the clinic setting. At that point, my plan was to pursue family practice or internal medicine. It was much later in my 3rd year of medical school training that I shifted focus towards pediatrics.

What led you to pursue a Masters in Public Health, and how do you feel it has benefited the way you practice medicine?

While a medical student, I developed an interest in public health but was unsure of its applicability from a career standpoint. After finishing residency training and starting an Infectious Diseases fellowship, I realized what I needed. MPH training provided the knowledge of how public health policy can impact population-based health measures, and various avenues for participating which I was previously unaware of.

How would you sum up your average workday as a pediatrician, and what do you find most rewarding about your career?  Continue reading

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Note from the Director — Spring 2015

Dear BIC alumni,

Greetings from Waco! We are in the middle of a busy spring semester. It has not felt much like spring lately.  It has snowed twice in Waco in recent weeks! Of course, it is nothing like the long winter weather across the North, but it is still rather exciting to see the campus covered in snowflakes.

Here are a few highlights of life in the BIC:

  • We are making plans for our twenty-year anniversary of the BIC. Stay tuned for more details. We would love to have you come back to celebrate with us.
  • World Cultures IV is under new leadership with Sarah Walden serving as coordinator. Sam Perry, Sharon Conry, Paul Carron and Chuck McDaniel have all spent a lot of time revamping the World of Rhetoric, Natural World, and Social World sequences.
  • Three BIC faculties had books come out in print. Candi Cann’s Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the 21st Century came out. One of our newest faculty members, Davide Zori, co-edited Viking Age Archaeology in Iceland: the Mosfell Archaeological Project. Jason Whitlark actually had two books come out this year — Resisting Empire: Rethinking the Purpose of the Letter to “the Hebrews” and a co-edited book, Interpretation and the Claims of the Text: Resourcing New Testament Theology.
  • I’m happy to report that Chuck McDaniel just received tenure from Baylor University. What exciting news!
  • In other faculty news, Sam Perry and Jason Whitlark have been nominated by the Honors College as Outstanding Professors. Lynn Tatum won the University wide Outstanding Lecturer award last year.
  • Lest you think all we do is work, Davide Zori, Xin Wang, Paul Carron, and Lenore Wright all welcomed new babies into their families this year.

Best wishes to you and yours,

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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Alumni Updates — March 2015

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 Enjoy!

(click on the photos to enlarge)

Amanda Sekour (’99) is getting married this year to her British fiancé, Laurence Hebson.  They live in Austin with her three children.  Amanda now teaches ESL at the University of Texas for the International Office.

HayworthJohn-Paul Hayworth (’01) earned a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut in 2003.  He currently lives in Washington, D.C. and was most recently the Manager of Federal Affairs and Senior Policy Analyst in the Executive Office of Mayor Vincent C. Gray. He is currently in his first term of office as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the Petworth Neighborhood. He is heavily involved in the community through mentorship programs, issues facing asylum seekers and LGBT Affairs. He is the President of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, one of the oldest and largest men’s choruses in the country.

Becky Oberg (’01) earned her BA in Journalism in 2001. A devastating diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder has not kept her down.  She is an award-winning blogger for, the nation’s largest mental health consumer website, and runs a successful freelance writing business in Indianapolis.  She is currently studying Arabic and working on a murder mystery novel.

Lori Pampell Clark (’02) works as a Principal Transportation Planner at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, overseeing implementation of projects & programs that reduce transportation-related air pollutants.

View More: Nicholson (’03) and husband Rob Simcox welcomed son Robert J. Simcox IV in January of this year. Emily is the Campaign Director for the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  They live in Arlington, Virginia.



Julie SmithJulie Smith (’03) completed her Master’s Degree in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration at Baylor in 2009. After working at the college level for 3 years, she returned to the classroom to teach Teen Leadership at J. Frank Dobie High School in Pasadena, Texas. She will be marrying Wesley Bennett on July 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas.


Kristina Bradford (’04) recently completed a Masters of Science in Ethics and Public Policy at Suffolk University in Boston.  She is currently working at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine as a Program Manager for Tuberculosis Projects.  She also participates in policy initiatives and lobbying efforts combatting slavery and human trafficking both domestically and internationally.

Kenneth Wolfe (’04) and his wife, Teresa Wolfe (’04), bring investors together to purchase apartment buildings.  As of now they are principals in 1199 multi-family units and recently bought their first property outside of Texas!  They closed on Cheyenne Vista Apartments (190 units) in Colorado Springs, CO; that same day they also closed on The Oaks at Jane Lane (109 units) in Haltom City, TX. You can find them on the web at Kenneth was recently interviewed by Old Capital Lending, and you can listen to the interview at their podcast.

BergmanJillian (Law) Bergman (’05) was promoted to Senior Manager at Holtzman Partners, LLP in October 2014. After graduating with her Masters of Accountancy from Baylor in 2006, she spent two years working in audit for Deloitte in Houston before moving to Austin, TX to marry her husband Don and join Holtzman Partners, a smaller public accounting firm with a focus on the Austin market. Jillian performs audit and advisory services for both public and private companies, assists clients with M&A due diligence, and advises clients with technical accounting issues. She is actively involved in the firm’s Women’s Initiative and Wellness Committee, and is a Board member of Austin Habitat Young Professionals. Jillian and Don have two kids, Madison (4) and Levi (2).  Continue reading

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Faculty Interview — Lenore Wright

Dr. Lenore Wright is associate professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning at Baylor. Dr. Wright’s academic background is in philosophy. She teaches in both the BIC and the philosophy department. We hope you enjoy this interview with Dr. Wright! (Read more faculty interviews)

lenore_wrightHow long have you been teaching in the BIC? What do you find most rewarding about working with BIC students?

I began teaching BIC courses in 1999, my first year at Baylor. My first BIC course was Examined Life; the second was World Cultures II. Thereafter, I taught World Cultures III, World Cultures I, and the BIC Capstone (co-taught with the incomparable Tom Hanks). Now that I have a course reduction for administrative work (I direct the Academy for Teaching and Learning), I teach only one BIC Course: World Cultures III. I am honored to serve Baylor in an administrative capacity, and I believe deeply in the ATL’s mission to support the development of faculty as teachers, but I do miss BIC students. I am happiest when I’m in the classroom, and I feel renewed by my time with BIC sophomores each fall.

What’s not rewarding about working with BIC students? Their willingness to read widely and think deeply about matters that matter is inspiring. Their ability to make connections among a vast array of ideas and texts is impressive. Their care of self and concern for others is humbling. BIC teaching is rewarding on many levels. What is perhaps most rewarding about working with BIC students is their commitment to the community of learning that BIC fosters: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and psychosocially. When they leave Baylor they want to make a life, not just a living. They want to improve themselves and improve the world. I am always struck by their deep desires to make a difference in the lives of others. I admire that. They are young colleagues. And I’m gratified by the professional and personal associations I have continued to have with many former students. Sic ‘em, BIC!

Tell us about your work with the Academy for Teaching and Learning at Baylor.

The mission of the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL) is to “support and inspire a flourishing community of learning.” What that means concretely is that I facilitate collaboration between faculty, between faculty and students, and between the faculty and administration on teaching-related endeavors. My charge is to provide programs and resources that develop faculty as teachers. Baylor has many excellent instructors—and many of them teach in BIC! I seek to recognize and honor effective teachers, encourage faculty to experiment with new approaches to teaching, and mentor new instructors as they begin to form themselves as teachers. It’s exciting to engage in dialogue with instructors at different stages of their teaching careers. I enjoy finding ways to meet their specific needs for support and inspiration. I can’t do this alone. Many faculty colleagues join me in my work, which is guided by the ATL Advisory Council (Dr. Schultz and Dr. Hanks are members). I am honored to have colleagues who lead programs, such as Faculty Interest Groups (FIG) or Seminars for Excellence in Teaching (SET). Together we strive to continue the historic tradition of teaching excellence on Baylor’s campus.  Continue reading

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Alumni Interview — Becky Oberg (’01)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. At least once each year we hope to publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we are posting interviews with some of our alumni. This month we are excited to post an interview with Becky Oberg (’01). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

Becky and BikeTell us some about your journey since graduating from Baylor. What are you currently doing for your work/career?

I graduated from Baylor in 2001. During my time there, I majored in journalism and minored in religion, with the hopes of becoming a religion reporter at a daily newspaper. After graduation, I took a job at a small newspaper in Crawfordsville, Indiana, but they got hit with an age discrimination lawsuit a few weeks after they hired me, so I was let go to pay for said lawsuit. After a brief stint in the Army (I was medically discharged during Basic after becoming severely ill with post-traumatic stress disorder and ruled disabled), I started freelancing for an alternative weekly newspaper in Indianapolis. In 2003, I won first prize for features in the Society of Professional Journalists Indiana Chapter Mark of Excellence Awards. I was also nominated for the Indiana Courage in Journalism Award for exposing corruption in military recruiting. In 2004, I landed a book deal with Chamberlain Brothers, a Penguin imprint. The book, “Freedom Underground: Protesting the Iraq War in America”, is about an underground network dedicated to helping suicidal military members desert and go to Canada. In 2009, I won a Web Health Award for my work with, the nation’s largest mental health consumer website. In 2009, I had a poem printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association. I live in Indianapolis and run my own freelance writing business, which is basically a fancy way of saying I’m an independent contractor.

Tell us about your upcoming trip to Kenya.

Despite my PTSD, I’m active in volunteering and I often write about the efforts of volunteers (my story “Biloxi Blues” is an example).  In keeping with this love, I’m planning to go to Kenya in June. I will provide physical support to IMANI Workshops, which helps people with HIV/AIDS get jobs, and the Umoja Project, which helps children who’ve lost one or both parents to the virus–that’s about 20 percent in the area I’ll be in. I’ve queried several magazines to see if they’re interested in articles that might develop.

I will leave Indianapolis on June 13th and arrive in Nairobi on June 14th. On June 15th, I’ll travel by plane to Eldoret, which is 163 miles to the west. I’ll stay in Kenya for two weeks, leaving Nairobi on the 27th and returning to Indy on the 28th. Once in Eldoret, home of Moi University, I will work with IMANI Workshops. IMANI is an offshoot of the Indiana University-Moi University’s Academic Model for the Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), which serves 100,000 HIV+ Kenyans. HIV+ adults in Kenya often face discrimination, and are unable to find jobs or secure loans. IMANI teaches them how to make and sell handcrafted goods, which are then sold at fair trade prices in the United States.  Continue reading

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Being a Peer Instructor – Kirsten Koschnick

kirstenkoschnickKirsten Koschnick is a second-year BIC student majoring in political science. She is currently finishing her first year as a Peer Instructor in BIC, and in this post she shares some about her experience.

Starting classes your freshman year of college can be scary. There are most likely going to be a few times during your first semester when you feel completely overwhelmed. That’s how I felt going into it, at least, as I think back to my first World Cultures small group. A bunch of nervous, awkward freshmen too scared to make small talk with each other, let alone to analyze and synthesize our assigned readings in front of each other and a really smart professor. But as class gets started, I notice there’s one girl in the room that definitely isn’t old enough to be a professor, but looks far too calm and collected to be one of my fellow freshmen. She introduces herself as our Peer Instructor. So, freshman-me at this point is thinking, “wait, she’s a seasoned BIC student who has taken this class before, and now she’s here to help me? Thank goodness. This means I have someone to help my poor, clueless self.” And just as I thought, this PI—a Ms. Brennan Saddler—ended up being one of the most helpful resources I was given in my freshman year. She would answer my questions without making me feel like the completely lost freshman that I oftentimes felt like, she held study sessions before our tests, and even brought us baked goods occasionally.

Once I finished World Cultures, with much help from Brennan along the way, I admit I was actually pretty bummed. I kept thinking, “what if there was something I missed?!” My grade in the class said that I had learned everything pretty well and fulfilled all the requirements of the course, but I couldn’t help but feel that maybe there were some things I hadn’t comprehended fully or retained as well as I could have. It was almost like I wished I could take the course again, to solidify all my knowledge and be able to re-grasp everything that I found so fascinating in my first round of World Cultures. But then in the Spring, in the midst of being captivated with all the new texts and ideas yet again, but this time in World Cultures 2, an email from Mr. Moore made me realize that the fulfillment of this longing was actually attainable. I could become a Peer Instructor myself! Not only could I again study all the material, but I could share my acquired understandings and insights with new freshmen and help them learn it, too. Thinking back to the profound impact my PI, Brennan, had on my first semester in World Cultures, I immediately knew this was something I really, really wanted to do.

As it turns out, the privilege of being a PI holds even greater benefits than you might realize. First of all, I get to have a second, more perceptive look at everything about World Cultures I and II that captivated me my freshman year. It’s no secret that there’s a huge amount of ideas and information given to you in World Cultures, and no matter how well you do in the class, there’s probably still quite a few valuable things you missed.  Getting to look at all the material with a new, more enlightened perspective lets you grasp the significance of those texts in shaping cultures, be amazed by the profound insight shared by incredible faculty members in lectures and small groups, and appreciate the new batch of freshmen’s understandings of the texts and how they interact with material.  Continue reading

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