A Taste of Waco

Over the last year I’ve been really lucky to have so many friends and family come visit me in Waco. With every visitor, I’ve tried to put together a rough itinerary of places to go and places to eat. Here are some of the places that have made it on nearly every list. Enjoy!


Vitek’s is one of the best BQQ places in Waco and its convenient location near campus and general ambience can’t be beat. I’ve never had anything I didn’t like from Vitek’s and every person I’ve taken there has loved the truly Texan BBQ. Although everything is good, you can never go wrong with a Gut Pack (their version of a Frito Pie) and a Dr Pepper.


Location: 1600 Speight Avenue


I’ve intentionally taken every visitor to George’s simply because it is your quintessential Waco/Baylor watering hole. It’s been around since the 1930’s and the specialties keep customers coming back. Some new items were just added to the menu this summer but, like Vitek’s, the ambience is what makes George’s truly unique. Tip: if you’re going during busier hours, definitely make a reservation!


Location: 1925 Speight Avenue

 Café Cappuccino

Voted Waco’s best brunch spot every year since 2006, Café Cappuccino has something for everyone in need of a hearty breakfast. Their menu is incredibly expansive for both breakfast and lunch but their breakfast items are what they’re known for. If you’re stuck between getting eggs or pancakes, go for the eggs because you get a pancake on the side for free with most of their dishes!


Location: 100 North 6th Street

*There are two other locations in Waco but the one downtown is my fave.

 Katie’s Frozen Custard

There are lots of frozen yogurt places in town and Blue Bell ice cream is always in stock at HEB, but you can only find Katie’s Frozen Custard in Waco and it occupies the Waco frozen custard market for a reason. Katie’s Cyclones in particular are amazing! I especially can’t wait for their seasonal pumpkin pie Cyclone.

Katies Custard

Location: 602 Valley Mills Drive

There are A LOT of other noteworthy Waco restaurants but I wanted to include some fun activities to do while killing time in-between meals ;) Here are some fun things to do in Waco!

The Baylor Marina

The Baylor Marina is the place to go if you’re looking for fun activities on the water. Baylor students can rent kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and sailboats for free and visitor passes are only $5. The location of the marina also allows for amazing views of McLane Stadium from the water.



Location: 1512 University Parks Drive

Cameron Park

This park is the second largest city park in the country (Central Park in NYC currently holds the top spot) and there are tons of ways to utilize this great Waco treasure! There are lots of hiking, biking, and running trails. There are also numerous picnic spots, some great lookout points, and the Cameron Park Zoo!

Cameron Park

More information: http://www.waco-texas.com/cms-cameronpark/

Dr Pepper Museum

If it is just too hot outside, head downtown to explore the Dr Pepper Museum. This museum tells the story of Dr Pepper and its historic roots in Waco. I had no idea so much went into the history of Dr Pepper and the adjoined old-time soda shop is really cool!

DP Musuem

Location: 300 South 5th Street

Explore Campus!

There is so much to do and see on Baylor’s beautiful and historic campus! Walk around the Sub and grab a Dr Pepper Float if it’s Dr Pepper Hour. Check out the bears, our live mascots, in their habitat right next door. Head over to Pat Neff and walk down Founder’s Mall. Take a picture with the Judge Baylor statue. See a show in Waco Hall or the Hooper-Shaefer Fine Arts Center. There is seriously so much to do on this campus and friends and family will love seeing where you spend your time!


These are my top 8 restaurants and activities to do with visitors however there’s plenty more I could include! Below are my honorable mentions:


  • Baris III
  • Olive Branch
  • Health Camp
  • Any of the Taqueria El Mexicano locations


  • Spice Village
  • Baylor events like All-University Events, Homecoming, Sing, etc.
  • Lake Waco


Blog post writer extraordinaire: Katie Styles

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Application Process

When you’re applying to something it’s always nice to have a friend on the other side of it – someone to which you can ask all your questions. Since you might not have a friend to ask, I thought I’d try to give you an insider’s scoop with this post.

Researching programs
First comes the researching of the programs. You’re obviously doing a good job of it if you’re reading this post. Kudos. Something I would encourage you to look for is a program that pays your tuition and/or gives you a stipend. Spoiler alert: Baylor does both. I am essentially getting paid to go to grad school. Cool. I actually didn’t do too much on the research side because I knew Baylor was exactly what I was looking for, but I’m sure it’s a good thing to do.

Throwback to high school days and taking the SAT. Thought you were done with all that? Unfortunately, not yet. I used Kaplan to prepare. I bought a book off the Internet that came with an online portion. The online portion was key for practice because the actual test is online. I prepared for a few weeks leading up to the test. I read through the Kaplan book to learn strategies for the vocab and writing sections. I also studied some common vocab words (I didn’t study enough to make this helpful) and roots, prefixes, and suffixes and their meanings (this was more helpful). For math, I made sure I understood all the kinds of questions and did practice problems.

The biggest problem for me on the day of the actual test was running out of time. I didn’t do the practice problems with a timer, so I recommend doing that.

Baylor recommends a combined score of 300. If you don’t score this high, I would encourage you to study up and try to increase your score by taking it again if you have the time. Make sure you send your scores to Baylor!

Recommendation Letters
Make sure to ask for these plenty of time in advance! You need one from an employer, a professor, and a student affairs professional. I got my ResLife supervisor (the one that encouraged me to go into Higher Ed) for my employer, my advisor and the head of my department for the professor, and my SGA supervisor for a student affairs professional. I asked in person then sent my resume with a reminder of when the deadline is! It’s nice to follow up close to the deadline to make sure they have sent them.

My personal statement was 1.5 pages single-spaced. This is probably on the longer side of the acceptable length, but I felt like everything I said was important. I summed up my undergrad experience, explaining how it led me to this point. Then I described why Baylor and why higher ed. There are many good ways to do this portion, so don’t stress. They just want to know your heart, really. They want to see that you’re interested and why you’re interested.

For my resume I ended up actually leaving things off because I didn’t want it to go longer than two pages. I hit all of my work experience and my most prominent involvements, listing the positions of leadership and a brief description of what that entailed. Also, don’t forget to send your transcripts.

Take note of the priority deadline. Try your hardest to get all your materials in by then.

Phone Interview
This happens anytime between December and January. I was nervous about this because I had never done a phone interview before. I printed out my resume and personal statement and made a list of points I wanted to hit at some point during the interview. It was only 20 minutes long and not scary at all; they are all very nice people. This is a chance for you to share your heart with them. Help them understand why you want this and why Baylor is a good fit for you. Make sure your phone is charged and that you are in a quiet place in which you won’t get interrupted. I tried to jot down some names of people that were there, but the only one I was sure of was Dr. Sriram. I sent him a thank you note after the interview.

Interview Weekend
Okay, due to extenuating circumstances I was not able to attend interview weekend, but I’ve heard great things. I did my interviews via phone and Skype. If you receive an invitation to the weekend, you will get a list of potential apprenticeships and will choose your top four. Based on several factors, you may or may not get an interview with all four of your choice picks. In fact you probably won’t. Don’t be heartbroken by this. You’ll have 3-6 interviews then rank your top ones. The supervisors get together and figure out who will go where. They know what they’re looking for more than you know what you want. Everyone in my cohort got a really good fit for his or her apprenticeship. It all works out well.

Hope this helps you understand a little better what the process looks like. If you have more questions or want to know more specifics, I would love few things more than for you to contact me.

I’m a first-year HESA (that’s pronounced “hessa”) student from Georgia that came here fresh out of Samford University, and I’m doing my apprenticeship in the Global Community Living-Learning Center. Email me at Katy_Flinn@baylor.edu.

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Snapshots from Fall 2014

Hello HESA students, past, present, and future!

Are you curious what it’s like to be a student in Baylor’s Master of Higher Education and Student Affairs program? Here are a few snapshots from our semester so far…

We started the semester off with a Welcome to Baylor BBQ at Waco’s Koehne Park. The second-year cohort hosted the new first-year cohort for an evening of good food, good conversation, and a beautiful view of the sunset over Lake Waco.


First and second-year students at the HESA BBQ at Koehne Park.

First and second-year students at the HESA BBQ at Koehne Park.


In early September, the HESA GSA executive team was busily recruiting first-year students to join HESA GSA. First-year students have the opportunity to join one of five GSA committees: Finance, Membership and Recruitment, Communications, Social and Service, or Professional Development.

VP for Communications Joshua Donath chats with first-year students about his vision for the HESA program.

VP for Communications Joshua Donath chats with first-year students about his vision for the HESA program.


Most recently, the first and second-year HESA cohorts joined forces for a weekend trip to Waco’s own Cameron Park Zoo. It was a beautiful day in Waco — and the Cameron Park Zoo did not disappoint!

Members of the first and second-year HESA cohorts on a trip to Cameron Park Zoo.

Members of the first and second-year HESA cohorts on a trip to Cameron Park Zoo.


Stay tuned for updates from our first-year students about their transition to Waco, to Baylor, and to the HESA program!

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Top Ten Tips for Interview Weekend

We cannot believe that Interview Weekend 2014 is already here for our prospective students!  We are just as excited as you all are.  After reflecting on our own interview experiences from just one or two years ago, our current students wanted to introduce our top ten tips for all prospective students.

1.  Bring extra copies of your résumé.  Supervisors will likely have copies, but you may care to bring extras with you for Friday!

2.  Bring a jacket.  Although it looks like our prospective students are bringing the sunshine with them, evenings can be chilly in Waco.

3.  Get excited to connect with current and prospective students, faculty, and potential supervisors.  Everyone here at Baylor is so excited to get to know you.  And take a look around — you may be among some potential future classmates.  Make connections!

4.  Use your host as a resource.  Your host will direct you to your interviews on Friday, and you may be staying in his/her home, too.  If you have questions about the weekend, the interview process, or anything — just ask!  Remember: current students have been in your shoes.

5.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Every prospective student at interview weekend will have different interview schedules, different strengths, and different experiences with higher education & student affairs.  Don’t worry about it.  Your experience is your own.  Comparing yourself to others can get in the way of you having the best possible experience.

6.  Be open to the unexpected.  You may come to interview weekend with a certain apprenticeship in mind, only to find that you connect very well with a supervisor in a different office.  Be open to opportunities through which you can thrive as a student, as an apprentice, and as a whole person.

7.  Take in the Baylor culture and campus.  While you’re here, you will have the opportunity to experience our amazing campus.  Take it all in!  Stand beside the Judge Baylor statue, take a look at Pat Neff Hall, try a Sic ‘Em.  Our rich heritage and exciting traditions will amaze you!

8.  Wear comfortable shoes.  You may have a quick transition between buildings for interviews, and you will feel much more at ease if your footwear is comfortable.

9.  Dress to impress.  Prospective students often have concerns about what to wear.  We recommend business casual for Thursday’s events, and business attire for Friday’s interviews.

10.  Most importantly, be yourself.  You were selected to attend Interview Weekend for a reason.  We are happy to welcome you.  We want to get to know you.  So show us who YOU are!


We are so excited for you all to get here!  Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sic ‘Em,

The Baylor HESA Family

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Exciting opportunity for Grad Students



I wanted to take a minute and share with you some of the initiatives the Southern Association of College Student Affairs (SACSA) is doing to help expand our services to our members. Our goal this year is to increase student and faculty involvement within the organization. We provide professional development opportunities through non-conference programming, academic journals, career service opportunities, and professional institutes. We also offer a new website that serves as a resource for current trends and issues, connects you to other professionals, and allows you to engage with whom you may not normally connect in the Southern United States.


We are improving our current services to serve our student members as well. Currently, we are offering graduate students a 1 year complimentary Regular membership ($50 value) after they graduate. All they need to do is register/renew their membership and we will take care of the rest.


One of the biggest benefits SACSA offers graduate students is our Career Services Center and its resume review service. Additionally, students can volunteer on committees and become involved with the conference in Louisville (our 65th), subsequently expanding their professional network. We recognize not everyone on this listserv is in the Southern United States, but we do offer an associate membership for those outside the 15 States and DC. Students do not need to belong to one of these states to become a member, and for those hoping to return to the South, this is an excellent organization to assist them with their job search and professional network.


If you have a minute, please visit our new site and review our Benefits page to learn more about what we have to offer students and faculty. If you could forward this email to your students as well, we would greatly appreciate it.




Matt Varga, Ph.D.
Vice President of Marketing and Outreach, SACSA
Assistant Professor Counselor Education and College Student Affairs
University of West Georgia


(678) 839 – 6160

Bepress Site

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Fall 2013

Happy Holidays!

We are excited to use this blog post to take a look back at the fall semester. This amazing year started off by gaining 14 new students in the HESA program: Kristin Abbott, Cara Allen, Taylor Balch, Misha DeLong, Josh Donath, Melissa McLevain, Gabriela Olaguibel, Daniel Schoettmer, Ray Small, Anika Strand, Katie Styles, Cassie Thompson, Michelle Diaz, and Chris Kuhl. We are so happy to get to spend the next two years with you!

The second year cohort started the year off with a bang by hosting the Back to School BBQ at Lake Waco! It was a great time of getting to know new faces and preparing for the upcoming school year. There was a lot of great food and fun!

In the middle of the semester, our cohorts enjoyed a pumpkin carving afternoon! We sipped apple cider, ate pumpkin treats, and carved some beautiful pumpkins. Some fan favorites included the symbol for “Pi” and the logo from Monster’s University! It was great to take a break and enjoy one another’s company.

We brought the semester to a close with our second annual Cheapsgiving Celebration which involved both the first and second year cohorts as well as the HESA faculty members. Each person contributed a “cheap” version of their favorite traditional Thanksgiving dish. It was a great way to celebrate the holidays on a grad school budget! We are thankful to Dr. Leanne Newman for hosting everyone at her home and for the opportunity to celebrate the holidays together with friends!

The HESA program also had an excellent gathering with the Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Kevin Jackson, and his wife, Garret. We had a wonderful time eating a delicious meal in the company of our phenomenal faculty and the administrators who work diligently to serve us as graduate students. Santa even paid us a visit!

Our second year students just finished presenting their posters for their qualitative research class. We are so proud of them for their hard work, on topics from the dramaturgy of high-achieving students, to fraternity men’s conception of masculinity; from the academic lives of sorority women to the involvement for students of color at a predominantly white institution. Our first year students are already crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on their first semester! It’s hard to believe how quickly the semester has passed by, but we are so fortunate to have spent it in fellowship with one another.

We can’t wait to see you in January! Sic ‘em!

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Guest Post from Nathan Shelburne, Baylor HESA Alum

I chose Baylor’s graduate program for reasons that have attracted many others to Waco, TX. I was especially drawn to Baylor’s commitment to the Christian faith alongside a dedication to outstanding academics; to the institution’s size—a great blend of intimate community and generous resources; and to Baylor’s reputation, particularly within the Christian higher education landscape. Not surprisingly, these things proved to be resoundingly true of the Baylor I grew to know and love. Yet there was so much I experienced beyond what I imagined looking in. Here are some aspects I have most appreciated.

  • Learning to see myself as an educator. If I heard this once in grad school, I heard it a thousand times. But the message is well worth repeating. As a recent college graduate and aspiring student affairs professional, I had lots of ideas as to how I hoped to impact and shape students’ lives. My own college experience had been incredibly enriching, challenging, and formative, and I was eager to have some part of giving that gift to others. But I hadn’t yet made the connection between those hopes and my sense of what constituted “education.” This was a subtle, ongoing shift that had dramatic implications on how I saw my role as a professional. In all aspects of campus life—academics, recreation, residence life, organizations, performances, ministry, etc.—there is tremendous potential for students to be deeply and powerfully impacted. Understanding myself as an educator gave me fresh eyes for the possibilities and purpose of each piece of the work we do and of each interaction with students.
  • Opportunity to learn about and observe higher education within a unique, distinctive environment. Baylor is a fascinating place and a great case study for higher education. It occupies a unique position in higher education as the largest Baptist institution in the world and as a university with high research activity. Baylor also has a historically strong dedication to teaching undergraduates; its heightened emphasis on research has been a fairly recent development. My years in grad school were in the midst of Baylor’s pursuit of the goals of Baylor 2012, an ambitious 10-year strategic plan that set the university on a number of new trajectories. I was able to observe how the institution went about its pursuit of these aims, and how the process and outcomes affected Baylor’s culture and identity. The opportunity to learn about higher education administration by simply observing such a unique institution was one of the most beneficial aspects of my grad school experience.
  • Cohort model built on relationships. Through the cohort model, the people I initially knew just through classes turned out to be one of the highlights of my Baylor experience. I learned so much through our conversations in class, from working on projects together, and from hearing about each other’s assistantship experiences. Even more enriching were the friendships themselves. The other students in my cohort provided such a great sense of security as we took our first steps together into the profession.
  • Commitment to excellence. Baylor’s commitment to excellence was apparent in virtually every part of my experience. Faculty and staff were driven to excel in their work, to be knowledgeable and professional, and to be outstanding advocates and educators for students. There was a desire not just to put on programs or have activities, but to meaningfully engage students in purposeful experiences both as participants and as leaders. This desire for excellence is contagious and has been a challenge and motivation for me throughout my career.

There are many other things I could mention: faculty who challenge, encourage, and believe in the potential of students; relevant work and practicum opportunities; the chance to work with and serve exceptional undergraduates and much more. My Baylor experience prepared me for roles at a variety of institutions because it helped me clarify who I wanted to be as an educator. I also gained a richer sense of the kinds of places I would most enjoy working, which has brought me back to serve full-time at Baylor! Sic ‘em Bears

Nathan Shelburne
Assistant Director for New Student Programs
Baylor University

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Interview Placement Recap

Well, Interview Placement is over. In just two days you were able to experience (among other things) a faculty panel, a distinguished lecture, a campus tour, dinner with program faculty and current students, coffee at Common Grounds, interviews with various apprenticeship locations, Dr. Pepper Floats, presentations from 1st and 2nd year HESA students, and (maybe) some sleep. I hope that you enjoyed your visit as much as we enjoyed hosting you!

And now comes the waiting…….

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy waiting. In fact, it is one of my least favorite activities in life. I think Tom Petty may have said best: “The waiting is the hardest part.” But’s it is also a necessity. Regardless of whether you are interviewing at variety of institutions or only Baylor, you will probably not hear back as quickly as you would like regarding your admission and/or apprenticeship placement status. Please don’t be discouraged by this. Know that there are a variety of HESA representatives who are more than happy to answer whatever questions you have during this interim period.

Again, it was great to spend time with you all!

God Bless,

Scott Shepherd
2nd Year HESA Student

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Measuring for Success: My Apprenticeship with Campus Living & Learning

In your time at Baylor it will not be at all strange to hear people in the cafeteria say things like, “Well, I’m a Woo, so…” A colleague may pipe up in a meeting to tell you that, “if Strategic is not in your top five, it has to be in your top ten!” At Baylor, we care about utilizing people’s strengths to best effect, and it is convenient to talk about them with one another using the terms given in the Clifton StrengthsFinder. My own Strengths have been very important in my role as Grad Apprentice for Academic Initiatives and Marketing in Campus Living & Learning (CL&L). My Input and Context strengths were particularly useful early on in my time at Baylor, as there was so much to learn about my position, the culture of the department, and the story behind CL&L’s unique approach to housing.

CL&L has taken the traditional role of a Residence Life department and expanded upon it. Baylor’s traditional campus housing options are not “dorms,” but residence halls. They are not just barracks that students come back to when they need to sleep; CL&L has built a culture in which the lines are blurred between the classroom and housing. One of the ways that it does this falls within my duties as a GA, namely faculty involvement.

I hope that you have enjoyed rewarding relationships with at least one faculty member outside of the classroom context at some point over the course of your time as an undergraduate. If you have, I do not need to tell you how much that connection can enrich and enhance the college experience. It has long been established that students who enjoy semi-regular interaction with faculty outside of class are more likely to graduate, perform better academically, and are more satisfied overall with their college experience (Kuh, et al., 1994; NASPA, 1987; Parscarella & Terenzini, 1991; Astin, 1985). A growing number of our communities have faculty-in-residence, living and interacting with students every day as an integral part of their community. We are working on including faculty more in the regular rhythm of life in our other communities, as well.

Another portion of my apprenticeship involves various assessment initiatives. Assessment is a scary word for many people, but the truth is that there is a great deal that one is simply guessing at until there is hard data to be had. It is fascinating to see intuition challenged by reality and to begin to work out how to change in response to new information. For example, using a recent survey, I was able to tell our Resident Chaplains how many residents felt that they knew their Resident Chaplain, how involved their residents were in faith-related activities, and how many students wanted more faith-related conversations in their community. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In this position, I have learned so much about what it takes to get faculty involved in residential communities, how to back up ideas with good research and hard data, and how to handle the multi-faceted challenges of programming and marketing. I have been challenged, supported, and have ultimately been changed by my time in Campus Living & Learning. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work under a great supervisor who not only wanted to see me succeed, but also challenged me and helped me to develop as both an individual and a professional. It is so rewarding to look back on my time at Baylor and to think of how far I have come through the combination of my time in the classroom and in the office.

Micah Wheeler
2nd Year HESA Student

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Experience Connection: Discover, Belong, and Thrive in New Student Programs

For those who enjoy fast paced, student-centered, high energy work, New Student Programs is a perfect fit. As an the graduate apprentice for New Student Programs, I am able to use my talents and interests to contribute to Orientation, Line Camp, Welcome Week, and Welcome Weekend. New Student Programs was a natural fit for me – I love working with students in transition, particularly those moving from the high school setting to college. Not to mention, my office is full of individuals who are passionate about the students they serve and students who are passionate about serving Baylor – we also have the most rockin’ Grad Pad in the SUB.

My day-to-day work varies depending on the season. My apprenticeship is a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work. Here are just a few things you’ll get to look forward to:

  • In the fall, I start the year by helping coordinate Welcome Week. I facilitate training, supervise student groups, and ultimately lend a hand wherever I am needed. As a staff, we have a great time with our student leaders coordinating the Big Event, Round Up, President’s Picnic, and various other Welcome Weekend events.
  • I play a vital role in Baylor Line Camp, BaylorBound, and Welcome Week recruitment! This includes everything from planning and facilitating interviews, to selection and training of leaders.
  • My busiest and most exciting season is the summer – this can be a little stressful with coursework and comprehensive exams, but completely worth it! New Student Programs wants to give you an experience that is tailored to you as an individual. For me, that meant facilitating the large-scale service project for Line Camp and developing programming for academic success sessions at Orientation. I was able to experience and contribute to a variety of different components of Orientation and Line Camp. This experience will likely look very different for you depending on your interests and strengths! 
  • In the second year of your apprenticeship, you will run Welcome Weekend; this is the culminating experience of your apprenticeship. Welcome Weekend is shortened version of Welcome Week for spring freshman, transfers, and international students. You have complete autonomy over the programming, logistics, and leadership selection and training!
  • Your semesters may be filled with various other projects as well, which might include compiling assessments, contributing to the Student Life newsletter, assisting with the student leadership class, or helping assist with various NSP events throughout the spring and fall semester.

New Student Programs will always keep you on your toes; however, you have a chance to work in an environment full of laughter, fun, and truly rewarding experiences. I work with some of the best students and staff on campus (though I must say I am a little bit biased!) and have had wonderful opportunities to have experiences that compliment what I’m learning in the classroom. Of course, in case you aren’t convinced, here’s a little snapshot of me in action:

Samantha Riley
Graduate Apprentice for New Student Programs
2nd Year HESA Student

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