Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

The Fastest 180 Seconds in Grad School

The 3 Minute Thesis competition began in Australia less than a decade ago, but has already begun to spread internationally. The competition challenges students to present their research in a simple, yet engaging fashion. Over the past three years, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) has helped Baylor join the over two hundred schools now hosting the event. On October 18th, eleven graduate students, representing eight different departments, came together in the Incubator to share their research with family, friends, and colleagues.

There were two groups in the competition: PhD candidates and Master’s students. In each group, there were prizes for first ($300), second ($100), and third ($50), as well as, an audience choice prize ($30). The judges for the night were Dr. Larry Lyon, Dean of the Graduate School, Pattie Orr, Dean of the University Libraries, and Dr. C. Kevin Chambliss, Professor of Chemistry. They rated each presenter on two main categories: comprehension/content and communication/engagement.


The competitors were as followed:

Sarah Rude (English) spoke about her work of sight perception in Medieval Literature. Sarah is studying how the trend from extramission to intromission effected literature during the thirteenth century.

Su Jin Kang (Sociology) presented on her research on inequality studies. Su Jin is looking at the effects of social status on potential health outcomes in the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

Michael Spiegel (Chemistry) shared his findings on the new drug selenomaltol. Michael is researching the effects of the drug on heavy metal poisoning and its potential to be selective in that process.

Bethany Smith (Sociology) talked about her research into entrepreneurial success. Bethany is interested in finding the motivations for financial success in women and minority groups to eventually make their business plans more effective.

Andrew Cox (Biology) relayed information about his studies to develop a new genetically modified nectar in impatiens. With malaria affecting over two million people every year, Andrew’s nectar would be toxic to the parasite that causes the disease, but not to the plant nor the mosquito.

Bekah Burket (Environmental Science) displayed her research over the last year of looking at the waste water of Hong Kong. Bekah is gathering information to discover how healthy communities are during different seasons of the year.

Scott Prather (Religion) presented his research on the evolution of penance. Scott shows how different factions of Protestantism evolved in their own ways to use penance for social control.

Ian Anthony (Chemistry and Biochemistry) spoke about his exploration of chemical identification. Ian is using both a mass spectrometer and a vacuum ultraviolet spectrometer to more accurately and fully identify a chemical.

Tim Orr (Religion) introduced his examination of communities in sixteenth century Europe. Tim argues that different communities were both resonant and dissonant of each other, but eventually, because of their stubbornness, choose the latter.

Lauren Bagwell (Curriculum and Instruction) talked about her belief in adding spoken word poetry to social studies classes. Lauren believes that it can help with bettering the class’s curriculum, as well as, each student’s relationship to each other and with themselves.

Jared Hanson (Geology) shared his findings on the Marcellus Shale. Jared is researching the importance of how the Shale grew both laterally and vertically to help extract more of its naturally gas.


Everyone did excellent, but in the end there had to be winners. The Master’s student winners were Andrew Cox (1st), Lauren Bagwell (2nd), and Jared Hanson (3rd), while the PhD candidate winners were Ian Anthony (1st), Tim Orr (2nd), and Scott Prather (3rd). The audience choices were Andrew Cox and Bekah Burket. After the prizes were presented, Dr. Lyon admired everyone’s research and spoke about how important a skill it is to succinctly discuss it to someone with little previous knowledge.

While the 3 Minute Thesis is still in its infancy at Baylor, GSA hopes to keep building it and possibly send representatives to national and international competitions soon. As for now, it serves as a great way to support and celebrate fellow students and their research.

By Matthew Doyen

The Baylor-Palm Beach Atlantic Connection

Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is located on the sandy shores of West Palm Beach, Florida, about an hour north of Miami. A small liberal arts institution with a total student population of 4,000, PBA strives to “offer a curriculum of studies and a program of student activities dedicated to the development of moral character, the enrichment of spiritual lives, and the perpetuation of growth in Christian ideals.” Despite being 1,300 miles from Waco, Texas and having a quarter of the student population of Baylor, PBA has a strong connection with this city and with our school.

This unusual linkage can be traced back over three decades to 1981 when Baylor hired Dr. Naymond Keathley. After graduating from Baylor with a bachelor’s degree in history, Dr. Keathley made stops at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and Palm Beach Atlantic University before returning to his alma mater. Five years later, in 1986, Dr. James Kennedy, now an associate professor in the Department of Religion, also joined the Baylor family after realizing that teaching and studying the Bible was his passion during his undergraduate time as a Sailfish at Palm Beach Atlantic.


In 1999, Dr. Laine Scales, now Baylor’s Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Professional Development, came to Baylor as a faculty member in the School of Social Work. Previously, she was redeveloping PBA’s service-learning program, Workship. Around the same time that Dr. Scales arrived at Baylor, three students, who would, unbeknownst to them at the time, strengthen the BU-PBA relationship, enrolled in the university’s religion graduate program.

Kathy Maxwell and her husband, Nathan, came to Waco in 2002 to pursue degrees in New Testament and Old Testament, respectively. Of the twelve new students to the program that year, only two students would be studying Old Testament: Nathan Maxwell and Nathan Lane. “Through the forge that is first semester doctoral students,” Dr. Kathy Maxwell wrote, “we formed deep friendships with our colleagues and their families.” While graduating at different times, the group continued to meet at national conferences, plan visits to each other, and share academic postings. Then, without fail, the calming palm trees and soothing ocean breeze of West Palm Beach started calling them one by one.


It started in 2005 when former Bear, Dr. Kris Pratt, joined the PBA staff and taught in their MacArthur School of Leadership. With his support, Dr. Lane made the same move two years later. One short year after that, a faculty spot came open and, on the advice of her old friend, Dr. Kathy Maxwell applied because the “opportunity to work alongside a fellow Baylor Bear was impossible to resist!” She was hired and her husband, Dr. Nathan Maxwell, taught as an adjunct and worked in online learning for several years at PBA before coming on as full-time faculty. Two years later, Dr. Myles Werntz, who received his doctorate from Baylor in 2011, came aboard as an assistant professor. As Dr. Lane wrote, “For three semesters, we (PBA) had a religion department dominated by Bears!”

There are endless examples of the BU-PBA connection that have continued to this day. In 2016, Dr. Scales was invited to speak at Palm Beach Atlantic University during their annual Founder’s Day Chapel. The Workship program that she and her colleague, Dr. Hope Haslam Straughan, redeveloped from 1993-1996 was celebrating its three millionth hour of community service. While there, she reconnected with associate professors Nathan Lane and the Maxwells.

And so the relationship goes on.


By Matthew Doyen

Balancing Philosophy Homework with World Championships

In July, the USATF Mountain, Ultra, and Trail Running Council announced the team for the 2016 International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) Trail World Championships. The 52-mile race will be held at the end of October and will traverse the beautiful mountainous border between Portugal and Spain. Incredibly, one of the ten athletes (five male, five female) selected is not only an accomplished ultrarunner, but also a successful Baylor PhD candidate in Philosophy.

Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of Northern New Jersey, Sabrina Little came to Waco after receiving her undergraduate degree at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. There, she raced competitively for the Griffins, but her love for running can be traced back even further. “My first ultramarathon was a bit of an accident,” she recalls. “My mom was in remission from cancer. I like grand gestures, so I ran 100 miles as a fundraiser for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition to celebrate her. It was published in the local papers and I received a lot of phone calls about it being one of the fastest 100-mile times in country that year. I actually had no idea it was a sport at that point.” Sabrina immediately enjoyed success in her new sport by winning both 50 and 100 mile races. At the 2013 World Championship, she even set the national record in the 24-hour run by traveling a little over 152 miles and helped lead Team USA to gold.


To compensate for spending 80+ hours a week training, Sabrina likes to intertwine her scholarly interests and personal goals with her athletic pursuits. For instance, training and racing is part of her overall approach to a well-ordered life. “I appreciate the discipline it offers, and it helps me to be a good steward of my body. I sleep, eat, and train intentionally. I try to be very present.” A healthy version of one’s self is important to a lot of the students and professors in the department. “It’s funny because I think the caricature of philosophers is that we can be a bit abstracted and adrift in the cosmos, but people in our department bike, run, rock climb, and garden. They’re not like what I might expect reading Walker Percy.”

Another way Sabrina combines academics and training is through moral pedagogy, or how we teach virtues. She explains, “It’s very easy to read in a book that perseverance is to ‘remain under a burden.’ It’s a very different thing to have those moments daily – in the middle of workouts, when I have to tell myself to remain. Virtues are hard. They feel awful to learn, and I don’t think we understand that just by reading about them. I think I am a more courageous person because I give myself the opportunity to be brave so often in running.”


Sabrina, and her husband, David, have made Waco home. They both attend Baylor and coach a local cross country team at Live Oak Classical School. Because of the city’s elevation of only 38 meters, which she calls “comical” when training for mountainous races, the ultrarunner has to do a lot of hill repeats. “I like them – up and down. It’s like Sisyphus.” She’ll keep training on those hills for the next few weeks before heading to Peneda-Geres National Park in Portugal for the big race.

We wish her the best of luck! Sic’em Sabrina!

Talking to Bears, Alumni Edition: Erin Dixon

Talking with Bears is a series where we take a few minutes each week to talk to some of the current graduate students at Baylor and discuss their experience at the university and in Waco.


Hometown: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate Degree:  B.S. in Nutritional Sciences

Undergraduate University:  Baylor University

Graduate Degree:  Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction

Graduate University: Baylor University

Year of Graduation:  August 2015

What was the biggest factor that persuaded you to attend Baylor for graduate school? And to come back to teach? 

I attended Baylor for my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees.  I did leave Waco for a few years after finishing my undergraduate degree; I moved to Oklahoma City to complete a dietetic internship and to work as a dietitian.  After working in a hospital as a clinical dietitian for about two years, I realized that wasn’t my “calling” or passion in life.  I had always thought I would enjoy teaching and education.  After much thought and prayer, I decided to move back to Waco to complete the Strickland Scholars program, a combined masters and teacher certification program in Baylor’s School of Education.  After completing that program, I taught high school science at West High School and then Rapoport Academy.  I decided to pursue a Ph.D. as a way to grow professionally as an educator.  I looked around at other programs, but I decided to stay in Waco and to attend Baylor’s program because this allowed me to continue teaching at West and then Rapoport.  (I taught high school at least part-time for the duration of my doctoral program.  The classes are all offered at night, and so this allowed me to teach during the day.)

I finished my doctoral degree in August 2015.  For the 2015-2016 school year, I continued teaching at Rapoport Academy and also taught a night class at Baylor as an adjunct instructor.  My plan was to continue teaching at Rapoport for another year or two, really taking my time in the search for a job in higher education.  However, that plan changed when Dr. Suzanne Nesmith (my mentor professor) contacted me in the Spring of 2016 to see if I might be interested in a position as a visiting lecturer in the School of Education.  My responsibilities in this position include supervising student teachers and teaching science methods courses.

What was one thing that surprised you about graduate school at Baylor?

I was surprised by how willing the professors were to work with and mentor graduate students.

If you had to describe your graduate school experience in three words, what would they be?

Rewarding, diligence, community.

What activities were you involved with outside of the classroom?

As I mentioned above, I taught high school science at least part-time for the duration of my doctoral program.  For the first two years, I taught full-time at West High School.  For the last three years, I taught part-time at Rapoport Academy.  When I was teaching part-time at Rapoport, I also had a graduate assistantship with Dr. Nesmith.  The combination of being a teacher, student, and GA took up most of my time; however, I do think that it is very important to try to maintain some type of balance.  For me, that meant working out regularly and being involved at my church.

What does your average Saturday look like now as compared to when you were a graduate student?

Saturdays are a lot more relaxed and low-key now.  During the work week, I focused most of my attention on preparing for my teaching responsibilities and completing GA tasks.  So the weekends were when I focused on my graduate course work.  I was up pretty early on Saturdays to get started on that.  I’m definitely enjoying sleeping in and relaxing on the weekends now.

How has the city of Waco impacted your time here?

With the exception of the three years that I lived in Oklahoma City, I’ve been in Waco since 1999 when I started my undergraduate years at Baylor.  It’s been so exciting to see the changes that have taken place in Waco during that time.  Growing up in Houston, Waco initially felt too small to me.  Waco has grown on me throughout the years though, and now I can’t imagine myself in a big city.

What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?

Lula Jane’s or Alpha Omega

Lula Jane's WTX

If you could give one piece of advice to prospective graduate students that are interested in Baylor, what would it be?

Go for it!  You won’t regret it!  The combination of Baylor’s Christian environment, top-notch graduate programs, small classes, and excellent professors provides for a great graduate school experience.

Compiled by Matthew Doyen

Gradvice: Make the Move!

Growing up, Bruce Springsteen was always a favorite of many people in my hometown. Maybe it was because of his patriotic songs that continue to be anthems to generation after generation. Maybe it was because of his rock star persona that earned him one of the best nicknames ever. Maybe it was because of his local and musical ties to the City of Brotherly Love. I never quite understood the obsession until his song “My Hometown” came on the radio during my summer vacation road trip.

The last verse reads:

Last night me and Kate, we laid in bed,

Talking about getting out, packing up our bags and maybe heading south.

I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now,

Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said,

“Son take a good look around, this is your hometown.”

Then, it finally hit me. Perhaps the reason why so many people in the area loved The Boss was because of the fact that they could easily identify with the lyrics of hometowns and glory days. Perhaps, like Bruce and Kate, they missed the opportunity to leave and have been stuck in the same city ever since. Perhaps they are now always finding themselves wondering and “talking about getting out.”

Attending Graduate School gives you the opportunity to avoid wondering all of the “what ifs” and “could have beens.” The best advice that I could ever give is: take it!


I don’t say this because I think that people should be wanderlust travelers or because I think that never leaving the same place shows a lack of ambition or because I think that I have a poor relationship with my hometown. In fact, I plan on returning to eastern Pennsylvania because it is home and nothing ever beats home. I say this because when I do go back, I know I won’t ever wonder if I belong somewhere else.

I didn’t apply to a school in central Texas by accident. I was always decent at geography and knew what I was getting myself into moving a two-day car ride away. The truth is that I’m using my time in Graduate School as a trial period – a trial period for discovering if I can live away from my entire family and lifelong friends and everything that I have known for the first twenty-two years of my life. I did it now because I want to know where to look for employment after I graduate. I want to know if I can look in Texas or further away on the West Coast or if I need to look closer to home. I want to know this before I accept a job that I’ll have to leave in a few months because I’m too lonely or scared and send my career careening backwards.

Graduate School is not only a time for challenging ourselves inside the classrooms and research labs, but it is also a time for learning what environments we enjoy. Our time in school, despite some of our best efforts, has an expiration date. Our job is to be as prepared as possible when that time inevitably comes. It doesn’t matter if we end up where we started or halfway across the world. If we took the time to learn in Graduate School where we can make it, then we’ll know that it won’t matter.

Written by: Matthew Doyen

Dr. Chen’s Unlikely Journey to a Biostatistician

Wencong Chen grew up a world away from the low-hanging trees and sunny skies of Waco in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, China. Despite being one of the most affluent provinces in the country, his early life was littered with poverty and “battle-testing” moments. Still, he persevered and graduated top of his class from Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou. After graduation, he received a position at a test agency that dealt with Japanese and Korean languages, but his curiosity soon got the better of him. He would often wonder the difference between a passing and failing mark among the thousands of test records he was handling. As a result, he came to the United States and enrolled at New Mexico State (NMSU) in Las Cruces, where his wife was obtaining her PhD, to pursue a master’s degree in statistics.

While at NMSU, he discovered that his true calling was to be a statistician. He continued toward his dream when he joined the Baylor family in 2013 as a doctoral student. The decision to choose Baylor was admittedly a difficult one as other schools from around the area were also interested in the recent Aggie graduate. Ultimately, he was most impressed by our beautiful campus, small class size, recent awards (we were honored by the American Statistical Association with the Statistical Partnerships among Academe, industry, and Government Award in 2012), and cutting-edge Bayesian research.

As he was researching pharmaceutical companies to intern at over the summer, the doctoral student was also welcoming a baby to his family. Unfortunately, his newborn daughter could not be taken home and was keep in the NICU of the Baylor Scott and White Medical Center under the watchful eye of Dr. Patel. After some observation, the doctor strongly suggested that Wencong’s daughter had to take the Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) genetic test, which maps the genetic material in a person’s cells. It is usually used to visualize specific genes or portions of genes and to help spot abnormalities.

The new father was at a loss. He didn’t know if his newborn had a genetic disease that was still baffling the science community. He didn’t know how to tell his wife that their baby girl might not have a “normal” life. He didn’t know if he was ready for such heavy responsibilities. He didn’t know what to do. Then, a colleague reached out and encouraged him to share a picture of his daughter with their department. What came next can only be described by Wencong as a “happy blessing from our warm community.”

The next few weeks were some of the longest and hardest as they waited for the test to return from a genetics lab on the West Coast. While still searching for a summer internship, Wencong lived in the parking lot of the hospital during this period to “save small pieces of time” and to make sure that his daughter was never alone. He made it through the screening process at one of the only companies still recruiting, Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, which, according to their site, is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company committed to bringing to market novel products for the treatment of rare and ultra-rare diseases, with a focus on serious, debilitating genetic diseases.

After two more rounds of interviews, Wencong finally got the offer. He had to divert from his preferred topic of survival analysis and his dissertation work on time-to-event data, which was challenging since his entire time at Baylor had been devoted to the subject, to topic that is required for most genetic drug developments: longitudinal data analysis. Fortunately, he had an understanding mentor in Dr. James Stamey, a professor in the statistical science department, who lent his support the throughout the process. Wencong’s internship experience at Ultragenyx in Novato, California shocked him. The soon-to-be Baylor grad never realized the large amount of genetic diseases that lack the available drugs to cure. In fact, he said that there are over 7,000 types of rare diseases in the world and three million people in the United States who suffer from them. It’s no surprise that after graduation he returned to Novato to work at Ultragenyx as a biostatistician.

During our email conversations, Wencong shared a Washington Post article about Julianna, a four-year-old girl in Washougal, Washington. She was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), which, according to the article and to the National Institutes of Health, is one of the world’s most common inherited neurological disorders. There are many mutations of CMT that have symptoms that range in severity. Unfortunately, Julianna had one of the worst cases and, after speaking with her parents about it for weeks, decided one day to forgo the painful treatment. She passed away soon after.

Wencong wanted to share his story, but, more importantly, wanted people to know that Baylor grads are fighting to find the cure for these rare genetic diseases. Baylor is also a leader in the research of cancer, which, according to the American Cancer Society, affects more than one million people in the country each year. As written in the spring edition of the university’s Arts and Sciences Magazine, “Arts and Sciences faculty have helped Baylor bring in more than $5 million in grants and other funding during the past six years to study cancer, and the University’s current strategic plan, Pro Futuris, provides a foundation for even more growth in the future.”

I love going to the football, basketball, and baseball games, but these stories and accomplishments make me more proud to be a Baylor Bear then anything that happens inside a stadium or arena. It shows that our university is trying to make a difference and I really couldn’t ask for anything more. As for the results of Wencong’s daughter’s FISH tests, they came back negative and she will enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life.


By Matthew Doyen

Grads on the Water

As you transition into graduate school, you’ll start to notice how truly different it is from your time as an undergrad. One major difference that you might discover is the lack of diversity in your friend group. This deficiency will not necessarily be in age, race or sex, but rather in academic and career interests. In other words, your friends will probably all be from the same program, your program. It only makes sense. With the extended amount of time you stay on campus, you become close with the people that study, work, and research at the same time and in the same discipline as you. The fact is that there’s not the opportunity to casually meet people like there was in undergrad.

2014 Banner

Enter, the Graduate School Association (GSA). Throughout the year, GSA hosts events that give graduate students a chance to relax and to meet one another outside of the classroom, lab, or library. These events are extremely valuable, especially if you listen to the advice that most students and faculty will announce during your first weeks: meet people outside of your program (because we all need an outlet sometimes). The family-friendly activities include football tailgates, appreciation picnics, and discount days at the Farmer’s Market. However, one of the organization’s most popular events doesn’t even take place on land or include the ultimate marketing tactic of free food (although there was a $1 off Pokey-O’s perk that most certainly did not go unused).

Grads on the Water is an amazing event that brings Baylor’s graduate school population closer to the city of Waco. Partnering with Bicycle World, who merged with Outdoor Waco a few years ago, students have the opportunity to rent a kayak, paddle board, or canoe to freely explore the Brazos River. The rental fee, which is usually $20/hour, was completely covered by GSA for the entire three-hour event. Because of the beautiful (below 100˚) summer’s day, this year’s Grads on the Water was extremely successful. Over 100 graduate students, with their families and friends, paddled under the historic Suspension Bridge while the Alico Building towered in the background and kayaked past the columns of the university’s McLane Stadium and foul poles of the Turner Athletic Complex.

Image (5)

Image (7)

Events such as Grads on the Water provide an opportunity not only to meet the other 2,000 Baylor graduate students, but to realize your similarities go far behind the classroom. We all go to Baylor. We all live in Waco. We all want the most out of this experience and out of our time here. Among many other things, GSA helps us realize those likenesses, which may be the group’s most important achievement.

You can follow GSA on Facebook and Twitter!

By Matthew Doyen

A Thriving Community

Despite some setbacks, Waco’s rejuvenation continues to be as strong as ever. New businesses are popping up all over town with tourists exiting I-35 by the thousands. A special part of the city, however, is how its full-time residents support their local businesses, as much as its visitors. There were a few extra-tasty openings over the summer that we are more than excited to check out (probably more than once). Here are the five that we’ll most likely visit by week’s end:

Alpha Omega and Pinewood Roasters

The dual-business team renovated a building on Franklin Avenue on the outskirts of Downtown that had sat vacant for over 50 years. Pinewood Roasters rivals Common Grounds and Dichotomy with an impressive specialty coffee menu, while Alpha Omega serves up some of the best Mediterranean food this side of Gibraltar. Mmmmm.

Brü Artisan Coffee

It’s no secret that Wacoans like their coffee and that the city is becoming a destination for coffee lovers and businesses, alike. Brü is located at the new Market Centre, which consumes the ground floor of the historic Praetorian in Downtown. Where is their espresso bar located you ask? Well, in the building’s century-old elevator, of course. It has to be good!


Hey Sugar

Hey Sugar is a real treat for all of your senses! The brightly-colored shop sits on an ever-expanding Austin Avenue in Downtown and offers wide-eyed visitors hundreds of candy, soda, and ice cream varieties. We’re scared to go for fear of never being able to leave.


Magnolia Flour

The Gaines’s positive influence on the city is incredible and their next business venture, Magnolia Flour, is a bakery already receiving accolades. Once we muster up enough guts to brave the crowd at the Silos, we’re going to make sure to stop in and get one of Joanna’s chocolate chip cookies. Just like anything else from the Fixer Upper couple, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.

Oh My Juice

Located in the same shopping center as Spice Village, Crickets, and Ninfa’s, Oh My Juice provides an option for those looking to refrain from the caffeinated and spirited beverages. OMJ offers delicious, cold-pressed, fresh-made juices and smoothies, as well as salads and acai bowls for those looking for a healthy alternative from the burgers and nachos.

By Matthew Doyen

Ten Events We’re Looking Forward To this Semester!

While some may count down the days to Winter Break, there are still many events to look forward to Baylor and in Waco between now and December. Here are our top nine:

Orientation (August 17)

There’s nothing more exciting than welcoming over two hundred new graduate students into the Baylor community! Students will gather at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center to begin their day with a hearty breakfast, while meeting their new cohort and GSA representatives. Energetic and informative sessions that are led by graduate school staff members and current students will follow and a President’s Reception (more food!) at Moody Library will conclude the beginning of 250 new adventures.

Traditions Rally (September 1)

The Traditions Rally is always held the Thursday before the first football game of the season. The main event is a headliner concert that has seen Phillip Phillips and Brad Paisley make their way to Waco in the past two years. Free and open to all, we’re excited to see this year’s headliner, Aloe Blacc, perform and, of course, the fireworks!

David McCullough Lecture (September 26)

The Beall-Russell Lectures in the Humanities was established in 1982 and has grown ever since. This year, we welcome renowned historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough. Held in serene Jones Hall in the McCrary Music Building, McCullough’s lecture, The Incomparable Advantage of Intellectual Curiosity, is free and open to all students to attend.

Cultural Arts Festivals (October 1-2)

The arts have been gaining momentum in Waco and may have hit an all-time high when a proposal for a cultural district was sent to the Texas Commission for the Arts. The Cultural Arts Festival brings together local artists, writers, and scientists for a celebration on the banks of the Brazos in Indian Springs Park at the very beginning of the fall season.

Open House (October 6)

In October, the Graduate School will proudly host its first ever Open House. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet faculty and current students, learn more about the admission process, and tour our beautiful campus. If you’re thinking about Baylor for your next step, then this will be the place to be!


Homecoming, Part One: Pigskin Revue (October 13-15)

A Homecoming tradition since 1958, the enormously-popular Pigskin Revue showcases the winning acts from the Spring’s All University Sing competition. With three shows throughout the weekend, performances are complex and colorful Broadway-style musicals. Remember to get your tickets as soon as they become available because they go fast!

Homecoming, Part Two: Homecoming Parade (October 15)

A tradition unlike other any: Baylor’s Homecoming Parade. Since 1909, the Baylor Band and elaborate floats have strolled down Waco’s streets during one of the oldest and largest homecoming parades in the nation. It’s sure to draw an extra-large crowd this year as last year’s edition was cancelled due to inclement weather and we will definitely be among them.

Baylor vs TCU (November 5)

A game unlike any other: Baylor vs TCU. The last time the Horn Frogs came to town was in 2014 when Baylor erased a 21-point deficit with only 11 minutes to play to pull off a stunning 61-58 victory that is still talked about ‘round these parts. After a heartbreaking double overtime loss last year in Fort Worth that was played during a Texas-sized rainstorm and without our first seven or so quarterbacks, we expect nothing less than last minute dramatics from the 2016 rendition, as well.

Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Corey Coleman (1) catches a touchdown pass over TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Ranthony Texada (11) during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving Dinner (TBD) and Christmas on Fifth (December 1)

Two of the best and most loved student activity campus programs are focused around the holidays. The week before Thanksgiving Break, all students and their families are invited to a free turkey feast that takes place on Fountain Mall. A few weeks later, we are treated to a tree lighting ceremony, live nativity, and concert during Christmas on Fifth. These are two events that should not (and will not) be missed!

By Matthew Doyen

Nine Things to Know before Your First Semester in Waco

You know that a new year is upon us when the moving trucks start to out-populate the professors. It’s always nerve-wracking and a little scary moving to a new place, but fear not because we are here to help! We’ve compiled nine things that we thought would be handy for newcomers to know before moving to Baylor University and Waco, Texas.

If you hear someone yelling sic’em, then know you’re around Bears.

It’s a weird thing that we often yell that while sounding better than the hook’ems and gig’ems of the world, makes less sense. It usually is accompanied by a Bear Claw and originated from the football field, but has since become appropriate for just about anything Baylor. It’s meaning is essentially a mixture between admiration and excitement, and you’ll be saying it before you know it!

If you want a glimpse of our most famed alumni, then head to the Silo District.

To be honest, you’d have a better chance of seeing the Gaines’s picking up a pepperoni pie from Shorty’s than through the swarms at Magnolia. The Silo District still has a lot to offer, though. Stores like Magnolia and The Findery are bringing both tourists and fashionable home décor to the city. Also, Shorty’s is real good.


If you love history, then you came to the right place.

Waco is a place of immense history that is restored, refurbished, and treasured. In fact, both Magnolia and The Findery are housed in nearly one hundred-year-old buildings. A block away is the Dr Pepper Museum, which showcases the town’s most famous invention. If you’re not impressed there are many more museums, as well as historic houses, hall of fames, and a National Monument.

If you’ve never had a Dr Pepper float, then enjoy having very happy taste buds.

A place that loves its history also strives to keep its traditions. In the Student Union, Dr Pepper Hour, which occurs every Tuesday afternoon, has been happening since the fifties. The Dr Pepper (also, never use a dot after the Dr in Dr Pepper!) floats that are served there are a heavenly combination of vanilla ice cream and the carbonated good stuff. After you’re first taste you’ll already be asking for seconds.

If you are still hungry after your delicious float, then don’t worry.

I thought I’d play a fun game where I visit a different restaurant every time I go out to eat. It’s been a year and I’m still nowhere close to the bottom of the list, which, like my appetite, is ever-expanding. There is everything here! Southern, Thai, BBQ, Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, Czech (kolaches!!) and American to name a few. The real struggle won’t be finding a tasty meal; it’ll be deciding what really great restaurant to go to for dinner tonight.

If you need to take a walk to digest, then head to Cameron Park.

Driving, walking, biking, running, riding, hiking through Cameron Park transports you to another world. The trees are lusciously green and overgrown providing shade from the beating sun. Lovers Leap provides an excellent view of the surroundings from its elevated position on top of one of the only large hills in the area. The Riverwalk catches the breeze from the Brazos River to make for a perfect destination year-round.


If you see a tortilla floating in the Brazos, then head to the Suspension Bridge.

If there’s still a small glimmer of light left from the sunset on your way home, then you just may see something in the corner of your eye floating in the water that looks like a lily pad. Then, you see twenty more. Don’t be confused, it’s just a tortilla from another one of Waco’s strangest traditions. People throw them off of the Suspension Bridge hoping to land them on one of the old train track pillars a few yards out into the water. Why? Because it’s oddly enjoyable and you are bound to eventually agree!

If you like to stay out after the sun goes down, then walk two blocks south to Downtown.

Waco is a small town that has a lot of big city amenities. On the first Friday of every month, businesses Downtown stay open for longer hours to provide an opportunity for strolling on Austin and Franklin Avenues. There is a movie theater with excellent food, concert venues, restaurants, coffee shops, and more popping-up seemingly every other day. Once here, you won’t be thinking that there’s nothing to do for too long.

If you ever feel lost in Waco, then know you’re around family.

The best thing to know about Waco, though, is how friendly and welcoming the people are to life-long residents and newcomers, alike. Despite all of the city’s hard times, it’s still truly the epitome of Southern comfort and, quite frankly, you’ll never want to leave.


So, welcome, sic’em, and don’t throw away that last tortilla!

By Matthew Doyen

« Older posts

© 2016 Just the Bear Facts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑