“Oh, but look how much you’ve gained!”

By Frances George

Are you and your student in the midst of college applications? So many choices. Are you wondering, “Should my beloved stay close to home, close to me for college, attend my alma mater, or should I let him or her try their wings and take flight and go to that school that is not just down the street or down the interstate, or even within the state?” This blog will hopefully remind you that yes, though you may think you are losing something by sending your child to a school that is not your alma mater, not just down the street, you are actually gaining so much and more importantly, so is your student.

This truth came to my mind with several non-connected events just this past week.

I was at a leaders’ meeting early this week for a women’s Bible study I attend. One of the leaders walked in and though her mother had just passed from Time to Eternity the night before, there she was. At one point, she answered one of the study’s questions, making a personal application from her mother’s very recent passing. She said she woke up and was struck by not only the death of her mother but her father-in-law’s death just the week prior and a difficult season in her own personal life. She said she had prayed that morning, “God, so much loss.” And then she said that it was as if an audible voice spoke to her heart clearly saying, “My dear daughter, you see loss. But, oh, look how much you’ve gained…a new grandchild from one child and a son-in-law from another. So much gain.”

We are halfway through the semester at Baylor. Week 8.5. Midterms are piling up. Papers are coming due for our students. Thanksgiving and Christmas seem so far away. Rehearsals for Pigskin Revue are getting later and later…so much loss…of sleep! And for you as parents, you might be thinking, “How could I send my child so far and not be there to help navigate it all?”

But may I remind you, that though those things may hold a modicum of truth in one sense, let me assure you, the gain of being at Baylor far outweighs the loss of distance and familiarity. Just now, I listened to a podcast of Dale Wallace from Baylor’s “Vertical,” a weekly Baylor Bible study with over 1,000 students in attendance. Dale challenged our students to find their rest in Jesus. He reminded them that, yes, we need to pause. We need to stop, to rest, and take stock but without Jesus at the center, it is hollow rest. “The purpose of the pause is to point to the person of Jesus.” Oh, look how much our students have gained from the wise words of a Baylor graduate, who has chosen to stay on campus in ministry and encourage our students concerning matters holding eternal significance.

This is the gain of choosing Baylor: students constantly encouraged to press into knowing Christ more.

In another Vertical Bible Study earlier in the semester, Dale encouraged the students to live on mission with 5 challenges:

  • To work while they wait for God to move in circumstances
  • To develop a heart for others in class and on campus
  • To be faithful no matter the place or platform…be faithful with the little things. The platform will come in time.
  • To be bold and relevant in their conversations about Jesus with classmates–to develop that heart and establish rapport and then give the reason for the hope they possess, in Christ.
  • To be obedient no matter the outcome and remember, the outcome isn’t up to them. It’s up to God. Trust Him.

This is the gain of choosing Baylor: practical ways to live out your faith presented to you and 1,000 of your closest friends each week! (I have actually, with Dale’s permission, shared these five truths with a women’s ministry team here in North Carolina! The gain goes beyond the Baylor campus!)

And yet there was more: The evening concluded with the story of a former Baylor graduate student who was challenged by a friend with this statement when he arrived at Baylor and started a small Bible study in his apartment. The friend said, “God has brought you to Baylor for a purpose.” That Bible study grew to the point that over 10% of Baylor’s entire population came each week to study the Word (Baylor has nearly 17,000 students. You do the math!). After ten years on Baylor’s campus, this graduate student, Louie Giglio, finished his work at Baylor and founded The Passion Movement where millions of college students have gathered around the globe annually to worship and know God more fully and deeply. And it all began at Baylor, with one Bible study, in one graduate student’s apartment, who understood what living life on mission meant and a friend, who was an encourager, reminding him that “God brought you to Baylor for a purpose.”

This is the gain of choosing Baylor: a place that develops leaders who go on to impact a generation and a place that develops friendships that encourage a heart.

The evening’s message ended with a prayer for the students who represent the future, the classes of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022… “You can have an impact now. May this group of students gathered here tonight change the world as you begin to realize you are here on mission. You are here for a reason.”

This is the gain of choosing Baylor: students who realize they are at Baylor for a reason, a reason that intentionally weaves together their Baylor experience with their academic endeavors. Each student’s Baylor degree serves as a launching pad for living life on mission, changing the culture, changing the world, skills honed while at Baylor.

Could it be that God is saying to your student, “God is bringing you to Baylor for a reason.”

You see, at Baylor our students don’t only hear this at a campus ministry gathering. They hear it in the classroom, from professors who challenge them to be their best academically and spiritually. They hear it from their peers, a student body made up of a caliber of students unlike any other university in the country. Baylor students are not only exceptional in academics. They are exceptional in character. I see it in the little things, in the way a young man asks for a date by saying, “May I have the privilege of taking you to dinner?” I know. It happened to my daughter.

The measure of Baylor students is found in the strength of their character. Character begins at the top and is found in the example of a President whose first act as Baylor’s President was to gather her closest staff… and pray. And it makes its way down to professors and in the life of campus ministry directors who challenge the students to find rest – even during midterm season – by residing in Jesus. It is found in the upperclassman taking a young underclassman under her wing and showing her the way.

The loss you may sense because of distance is far outweighed by the gain of all that is Baylor. You cannot understand it until you spend some time here. Baylor is more than a university name.  Come for a visit and you will begin to see all you will gain and say with me from 1,200 miles away, “Loss? What loss? Oh, look how much we’ve gained.”

It is… the Baylor difference.

A Large Place, Indeed… Filled with Delight!

By Frances George

There is a verse in Scripture that says, “He brought me forth into a large place…because He delighted in me.”

As I just now read this passage, my mind suddenly pictured a myriad of parents across the country who have a student beginning their journey at Baylor, and maybe today Baylor seems like “a very large place.” And you may wonder, through a few tears on the phone with your freshman and when you see that item at home that was accidentally left behind, “Was this right? Did my beloved choose well? It’s so big and (for some, like our family) so far!”

I am here to assure you, you chose well. Very well.

Our family first came to Baylor in the fall of 2012 when our elder daughter began her Baylor journey which would ultimately conclude with two Baylor degrees in 5 years – a BA and a BSN.  Now she is supremely happy as Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse, serving the tiniest among us. He brought her to a large place: Baylor University in Waco and then in Dallas at Baylor Medical and Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Now she is in an even a larger place. Baylor made the difference. Our younger daughter, whom we thought would never leave the close proximity of home (we are 1,200 miles from Baylor, in North Carolina), chose Baylor over eight other schools across the country and over a million dollars in combined scholarship awards. He brought Catherine to a very large place: Baylor. And as she began her junior year this week, coming “home” to Baylor was a seamless transition and as easy as walking on our family farm – a large place with hundreds of acres but secure and safe, every acre known, paths traced and retraced, filled with happy memories dotting every step along the way. The swing under the tree on Fountain Mall, the event where we met, meals in Memorial, the classroom building where I found my best friend in that 8AM class, and McLane Stadium where I cheered until I was hoarse after running the Baylor Line in a sea of yellow “painted” jerseys. A large place, indeed, but one that is the epitome of joy realized and dreams fulfilled.

Coming back to Baylor this year, I watched from a distance, as I helped Catherine set up her new house with her roommate, and saw firsthand the steady stream of friends coming and going, welcoming each other back. I stepped back and observed, hearing joy in the squeals of delight of girls seeing each other after a summer of traveling abroad, working at camp, or just sitting by a pool taking an academic hiatus for a few weeks.  You would think they hadn’t seen each other for years instead of just weeks! I smiled as a young man helped Catherine hang curtains and set up the heaviest pieces in her room, laughter floating down to the first floor where I was working on another project. The depth of friendship that has grown over the past year through good times and hard times, always being there for my daughter, made this mother smile. (Yes, young men at Baylor are a different breed. They are gentlemen and well-spoken, thoughtful and yes, reams of fun with their big black trucks!)  The very first weekend back, the girls hosted a housewarming to invite friends to see the new house named “The Owls’ Retreat,” enjoy dessert and their big new porch, followed by a very large annual “Welcome Back” event hosted by a group of young men for hundreds of students! A large space but one that feels like home.

This scene was repeated all over campus among returning students. A large family on a large property with large joy… because He delights to give good gifts to our children. Parents, remember this: Baylor is a gift. And when, as a parent of a freshman, you wonder, “How will they ever learn to do all of this – navigate classes, and campus and coeds – remember, it’s Baylor. It’s a university filled with students who are set apart from other schools, one that grows young men and women into adults over the course of four years, and along the way there is much laughter and love to enjoy. “Oh, I’ve missed you!” being repeated a hundred times over the course of the first days back, the big “Welcome home” hug of a treasured friend, reminding me, that my daughter has gems in the form of close friends, makes me realize that this large place is very special indeed. These four brief years are the treasure where life lessons are learned, where friendships for life are grown and where the shaping of the next generation is taking place in a most wonderful place.

Be at peace, parents of freshmen. This large place will soon feel like home, full of delight and life lessons, laughter and love, and though it may seem large today, Baylor will feel like their own back yard so very soon. You’ll see the transformation and shed tears of happy joy, like I did this past week. And then, they’ll wish it would all slow down so they could linger a little while longer. You will too.

And that, as always is the Baylor difference.

“Mom, I’m living my best life now!”

By Frances George

Almost thirteen years ago, a beautiful young mother gave birth to her first child, three months prematurely in December 2005. John Clark, “JC”, weighed only two pounds and fought for his little life well into the spring of 2006. My daughter, a vivacious twelve year old who has always lived life to the full, walked into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and saw her little cousin for the first time. She was silent as we walked back down the hall after seeing this little one in his tiny bed connected to all sorts of wires and tubes, little heart beating with all its might. Just before we walked through the doors back out into the non-NICU world, my daughter, Mary Scott, known to most now as MSG (Mary Scott George), looked up at me, her hand holding mine and said, “Mommy, when I’m grown up, I’m going to take care of those little babies.”

“Alright. That’s lovely,” I said, and didn’t give it much more thought. Fast forward to college searches. It was down to two schools, one close to home and one 1,200 miles away in Waco, Texas, both with outstanding nursing programs.

MSG chose Baylor and never looked back. Our daughter thrived at Baylor, though she knew not one soul on campus when she arrived. She joined the Freshman Council, was in the Homecoming Parade carrying a huge balloon rivaling what you see in the Macy’s Day Parade (Baylor’s homecoming parade is the largest continuously running Homecoming Parade in the nation, by the way… I’ve actually blogged about that as well!), pledged a sorority, held leadership positions in the sorority, excelled in all things academic (and social!) and loved football Saturdays! You could easily say that MSG embraced college life at Baylor!

Early on, however, MSG faced having to move to Dallas to Baylor Medical for the final two years of nursing. And so she decided that four years of college come only once in a lifetime and changed her major and stayed in Waco all four years, moving to Dallas upon receiving her first degree in 2016, working in marketing. But her heart was still in NICU with the little babies.

By the providence of God, our daughter shared an apartment in Dallas with a sorority sister who had completed the Baylor Louise Herrington School of Nursing FASTBACC program, which is a one year accelerated program for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She encouraged MSG to apply.

The spark was reignited and at Christmas of 2016, just six months after graduating from Baylor and gainfully employed in Dallas, our MSG announced she was returning to Baylor University for her second degree and for her first love: nursing. January through April 2017 were four months unlike any other in her life; while working 40 hour weeks in marketing, Mary Scott completed all of the undergraduate requirements and took the nursing school entrance exam, and on May 15, 2017, began a one year intensive program at Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas at Baylor Medical for her BSN, to be completed in May 2018.

And here we are…

One year later, with two Baylor degrees in six years. At one point last fall, when Mary Scott was in the midst of pharmacology and hospital clinicals, I traveled to Texas to check on our girl. This was our conversation:

Mom: “Scottie, how are you doing? I know you are working so hard, have very little social life, very little life, actually, outside of the classroom and hospital. It is all really difficult. Are you okay? Are you glad you did this?”

MSG: “Mom, that’s all true. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And not to sound like a popular evangelist in Texas… but Mom, I’m living my best life now! I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”

Writing this still brings tears to this old mom’s eyes. This is a parent’s dream, hearing their child, now an adult woman achieving her lifelong goal, doing it with excellence and never letting go no matter the cost. While others were “living large” in Dallas and traveling to weddings and weekends away with friends, Mary Scott focused on her goal and there was joy in the journey.

So, why do I write this to you? Why will the end of this blog encourage you to choose Baylor? There are multiple BSN degrees available around the country. True. But there is only one Baylor and the Baylor difference is real. On one of Mary Scott’s final rotations in the hospital, she was assigned to oncology and asked me to pray for her as it was hard on some days. “My patient may die today,” she would say. As I thought of how to answer Mary Scott, I thought of the difference her six years at Baylor has made. I told her, “Remember the Baylor difference honey as you walk the halls of the hospital and learn things taught only here at Baylor.” I encouraged Mary Scott to observe and learn all the technical and textbook skills she could but I also told her, “Observe and learn from your instructors on how to be a nurse when someone is dying. There is an eternal perspective that permeates all that Baylor is and it will be evidenced in the way a Baylor nurse walks with a patient as they die. It’s not in textbook but it is evidenced in the life of a Baylor nurse. It is a different perspective from the world and from what you will observe in most universities but this skill coupled with all the other things you have learned will ultimately be what sets you apart as an outstanding nurse, and as an outstanding person. This is why you chose Baylor as an 18 year old. And this is why you looked only to Baylor for your second degree. Baylor knows how to teach life with eternity fully in view.” Skills taught at Baylor? Outstanding. How to live well taught at Baylor? Yes! How to live with an eternal perspective? Well, it’s the Baylor difference.

I wrote early in Mary Scott’s time at Baylor about how a little two pound baby brought our family to Baylor. And six years later and now with MSG’s little sis about to begin her junior year at Baylor… it’s truer now than it was in 2012 when we first arrived on campus. Baylor is a place that grows young freshmen into lovely and strong and determined adult women who will do great things for our world. BAYLOR Nation impacts THE nation for good. Baylor has developed character in my daughters, taught them to not only reach for their dreams but to see them realized on a campus – in Waco and Dallas – where excellence among the student body is the norm, appreciation for the truth of God’s Word in action and deed is practiced every day from faculty members all the way down to freshmen, and where gaining an eternal perspective is encouraged. Mary Scott grew up at Baylor. Her little sister is as well. And I love what I see. Has it been without struggles? No, but what in life is struggle-free that is worthwhile? Has it all been worth it? Absolutely and without question.

MSG is a young woman of God who knows who she is and why she was created. When she said, “Mommy, when I’m grown up, I’m going to take care of those little babies” she knew her calling. Baylor helped her realize her dream of becoming a NICU nurse. And beginning this summer, MSG will do just that, when she begins caring for “those little babies” in NICU at a nationally ranked and highly respected children’s hospital. And on May 12 when Mary Scott walks across the platform one last time, her little two pound cousin John Clark will be there cheering her on, all grown up now at almost 13, with his own personal understanding and gratitude for what I always call “The Baylor Difference.”

Join us. And allow your child to experience the Baylor difference and live, like MSG, “their best life now!”

The Oil Can

By Frances George

There is a story from years ago of an old man who walked about town with an oil can and wherever he found a squeaky door or roughly hinged gate, he would use his oil can and make the way easier for the one who came after him. It is my hope that as you read this, your uncertainty over college will subside and in your mind and heart, the door will open wide and without hesitation and you allow your son or daughter to walk through it…to Baylor.

Many of you are deciding where your son or daughter will spend the next chapter of their life. I have two daughters who have attended and are currently attending Baylor, beginning in 2012 through 2020. They will complete their time at Baylor with a total three degrees between them. My elder daughter is receiving her second Baylor degree in May and my youngest graduates in 2020. Over the years I have witnessed much of college life from a Baylor perspective. May I submit to you that the Baylor difference is real. Just this morning I was talking with a mom in another state about the Baylor difference. I shared with her the things that set Baylor apart. I told her stories of financial sacrifice on the part of parents in order to send their child to a private university (We are in that category!) I told her stories of distance (We are 1200 miles from our girls). And I told her stories of the academic rigor that accompanies a top tier institution (Yes, that describes us as well! Our girls work extremely hard each year.) These things are all true of Baylor. But as I told this mom just a few minutes ago, there is no sacrifice too big, no distance too great, no rigor too overwhelming that supersedes choosing a university where professors share our faith, for a college community that encourages faith, for the myriad of churches in Waco that grow our children’s faith, and for the deep friendships that make faith such fun. Baylor is unique.

Just last week my younger daughter submitted a paper in one of her classes and in her conclusion she quoted a verse from scripture. My daughter sent the paper to me to share with my 91 year old father, as the paper referenced him and his experience during the Great Depression. Someone in the room with us, who taught at the college level in a state school asked, “Won’t your daughter be graded down for quoting scripture in an academic paper? Won’t this professor be off-put by her blatant display of faith?” My answer, was “No. This is Baylor. This university is different.” I remember thinking once again how grateful I am again for Baylor.

Baylor is worth the cost, worth the sacrifice of distance, and worth the challenge that accompanies academic rigor. Four years at Baylor will make your sons and daughters better prepared to enter the world than most college graduates. A Baylor education is much more than the time spent in the classroom. It is a life experience that takes the long view. Baylor does all things, as the great English orphan protector and provider George Mueller said, “with eternity in view.”

It is costly? Yes. Is it far away from home? Yes. Is it challenging academically, requiring many hours in the library? Yes. But is it worth it? That is the ultimate question each parent must answer. Most things in life of value come with a cost to us. The cost may include the sacrifice of not having our children right down the street but the result: amazing young adults who learn “life” apart from us and yet are surrounded and mentored for four years by wise men and women who teach and do life with our children. The friends, the faculty, the faith found at Baylor are like the old man with the oil can and our children are the recipients of that grace. And likewise, your children then become the “old man with the oil can” to the students who will come after them. How do I know this to be true? Because I’ve seen it, in not just one but two daughters at Baylor. This institution has shaped my daughters, who pour into others’ lives each day, like the old man with the oil can. Baylor is absolutely worth it. Life is about choices. Choose well. Choose Baylor. You will not regret it.

And that is the Baylor difference.

The Stained Glass

By Frances George

Last week I was on campus and found myself parked in a parking lot next to the Stacy Riddle Forum. This beautiful brick and columned building houses the women’s Panhellenic sorority meeting rooms. As I sat in the car in the late afternoon, waiting for my daughter to get out of class to meet me for a quick dinner, I noticed the exquisite stained glass in a set of windows. There is a chapel in the building. To me, that says a great deal. What it does not say is sometimes as important as what it says. A chapel does not say all is rosy all the time. Sometimes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and even seniors have tough days on campus and off. Perhaps there is a class in which you can’t seem to keep your head above water, there is a roommate who has turned out to be less than what you expected, someone has crushed your hopes for the weekend or simply, home seems very far away right now. College is not always the best of the best…on the surface. But there is the chapel. And in that chapel there is hope. And hope is a cornerstone of who Baylor is. It is not a “hope for,” a wish that may or may not come to fruition but rather a hope in what I know to be true and in that hope I can place my trust and know it will be alright because someone bigger than myself is in control. That is Baylor.

Here in this building, a building which represents fun and philanthropy, scholarship and sisterhood all rolled up in one package, there is a room, not tucked away in the back, not given as the leftovers of the building budget, but rather a lovely space with stained glass, prominently positioned in the very front of the building, as soon as you walk in…to your right. Perfectly placed, I’d say. You can’t miss it and that’s the point.

Because you see, even in college, in Greek life, in academic life, Baylor knows where the anchor is and they have built their institution on that very firm Foundation and it is on display around campus for all to see. Because Baylor knows that no roommate will always be there for you like Christ will be. No sorority sister will understand every crisis, no boyfriend will ever love you perfectly, and a perfect 4.0 GPA will not guarantee perfect peace. But Christ will do all of those things and more and weather every storm for four years and more. And yet just like stained glass, you can’t see through it. You can’t see what’s inside from being on the outside. And while that may seem discouraging at first and you may wonder, “Why can’t I see it all right now?” upon closer investigation, a different vantage point, and over time, what was once opaque displays its most spectacular beauty from within and becomes the most encouraging encounter ever. You were never intended to see it only from the outside. The real beauty comes from within. Opaque from the outside but complete peace inside where the light streams through the colored glass and creates a beautiful view only known to those who have ventured to come inside. So much like the college years…arriving on campus that first day, not knowing, not seeing it all clearly but somehow knowing, “this is the place” and by the end, when you walk across the platform, diploma in hand, you realize you’ve made your way “inside” and all things are clear and more beautiful than you could have imagined. Illumination from the Son through the stained glass. That’s the beauty of Baylor.

Baylor not only acknowledges that truth in its philosophy you read in print but Baylor intentionally puts it on display in its buildings, on its buildings, and on the “playlist” of the bells that echo from the lovely old centerpiece Pat Neff Hall each day, hymns that ring out across the campus with the sound of hope. Just this past week my daughter texted me saying, “Mom, the bells are playing my favorite song! Listen!” and she held the phone up to the breeze and I heard an old familiar tune of hope. In the late semester as December and exams are ahead, Christmas carols seem to remind the students that hope is not far off or “That Good Old Baylor Line” reminds the students that we are a family bound by more than classrooms and grades.

So as the semester begins anew for the classes of 2018, ’19, ’20, and ’21, and as your student is looking for a place to call home for the next four years, consider Baylor. When I consider the great things that occur in college and even when I consider the hard times in college, challenges that every student will face in one form or another, there is no other place I’d rather have my daughter walk through them than at Baylor where a chapel is only a few steps away and where the music on the afternoon breeze reminds our students, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

And that is the Baylor difference.

End of Year Reflection & Paying it Forward

By Bernadette Cooper

And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.   Job 8:7

A former supervisor of mine once shared some wisdom that has remained with me for nearly two decades: the older you are, the faster time seems to move. As I reflect once again on the ending of a semester – freshman year for my bear cub, Savannah – I can’t help but think of his observation. This time last year my daughter was preparing for senior exams, graduation and a trip to Europe. She was delighted to finally have an answer to the question adults in her life had been posing for months: what are your plans after high school? While she knew she was college bound, she was uncertain what campus she’d call home for the next four years.

Fast forward to May 2017.

In the intervening nine months, I have been an active part of the Baylor Parents Network. And I’ve LOVED it. Baylor is diligent in connecting potential families to current parents and students in order to provide a personal opinion of our experiences with the school and address any concerns from both the parent’s and the student’s perspective.  In the past two months, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with seven families considering Baylor.

The deadline to commit to Baylor came and went on Monday, May 1st. On that same day, I reached out to three of the families I’d forged the closest relationships with. All three families live outside of Texas. One family, in particular, a single mom and her daughter, swooped into town the weekend before the May 1st deadline and met with their area admissions counselor, department heads, enjoyed lunch in the dining hall, toured several dormitories and broke bread at a local restaurant with my daughter. This reminded me of my journey with Savannah last year, at this same time. For weeks the parent heard my take on the school and spending time with my student was just what this family needed to get the real sense of life on campus.  According to my daughter, they asked the hard questions, which Savannah addressed honestly.

I am happy to share that all three families committed to Baylor and their children are officially bear cubs. All three are a welcome addition to the incoming class of 2017. I look forward to meeting them at freshman orientation this summer.

To the rising sophomores – that is, freshmen class of 2016 – can you believe you have one year of college already under your belt? Three more to go. Cherish your memories and the friendships you’ve made. Maintain contact over the summer. Work toward some goals in your field of study. Learn from your mistakes and prepare for sophomore year, which will likely be more challenging. Get some relaxation and rest in. Unless you are studying to be an educator, you likely won’t have another opportunity for 10 weeks off once you enter the workforce.

God’s speed on exams and safe journey to your respective summer locations.

Sic ‘Em Bears and see you August!

Baylor 1.0

By Frances George

Time to choose a college. If you haven’t, here is one final and compelling reason to say “YES” to Baylor.

Catherine is our second daughter to attend Baylor, finishing her freshman year in a week. Our elder daughter graduated May 2016 with her first degree and will be returning to Baylor in just two weeks to begin classes at the Louise Herrington School of Nursing at Baylor to receive her second Baylor degree… but that’s another blog! In some ways my two Baylor daughters are very similar and in some ways they are quite different from one another. Both have had/are having amazing experiences at Baylor but for different reasons. Just last week, our second Baylor daughter sang in her Women’s Choir Spring Concert. During one particular piece in the concert, she said she cried tears of joy as she sang “How Great Thou Art,” thinking about aging grandparents and how much the family would have enjoyed the concert. “It was so good Mom. Made me realize how I blessed I am to be a part of it all!”

I texted back saying, “Your words are confirmation that Baylor is the perfect place for you. Your experience will look different from your big sister’s and yet in some ways, it will be richer. You are a light at Baylor and you’re a great blessing to me.” What she said next is why I have written this final blog before final decisions are being made for college. If you are wondering, “Will my child fit in at this major university? Will she be a ‘no one’ among 15,000, just a number? Or will she find her place? Will she grow and learn and become a strong, prepared and confident adult?” Wonder no more. Yes, she will. This is what Catherine texted back to me…

“It’s funny because when I first came to Baylor, I thought that my experience should be the same… I wanted my experience to be the same as Mary Scott’s. But lately, I’ve been realizing that my experience can and should be different from Mary Scott’s because she and I are not the same person and are created differently and think differently and influence others differently. Honestly, it’s a relief to know that my experience should be different from hers because if I continue to think that it should be the same I will start comparing myself to her, her life and her friends & think, (as I have in the past) that I need to have the same friends and share the exact same experiences. But God has something different for me, and like I said it’s a relief…It’s not “Mary Scott’s Baylor story 2.0”. It’s my story, 1.0.”

My story. Baylor 1.0. That’s it. In one sentence Catherine summed up my prayer for my second Baylor daughter. “Let it be her experience and let it be every bit as wonderful as Mary Scott’s but let it “look” like Catherine.” For a young woman to realize this her freshman year in college is an answer to a mother’s prayer. She gets it. And from where did she learn this? From Baylor. It is not learned in a specific course and not from a particular person but from being a student who, in the classroom and on campus, finds herself surrounded by peers and professors who exude true greatness of character and academic excellence and they encourage it among the students, from the youngest to the oldest. It is a call to embrace their own Baylor experience. And embrace it Catherine has.

Every Baylor experience is unique. The great transformation takes place a little at a time over the course of a year, from a professor with whom your daughter connects and is actually sad when the class ends, from realizing that friends are not all in one sorority and some not in a sorority at all, when your daughter takes a picture of her dorm room window with the sun streaming through and texts, “Mom, I’m going to miss this beautiful view next year,” it’s going to her church on Sunday morning after being at her home church over Easter break and saying, “Mom, it was so good being back in my church in Waco! My heart is full!” And for us as parents, it’s realizing that the blessing of Baylor resides in the lives of the 15,000 students, amazing individuals who walk the campus and intentionally interact with students in a positive way. And I have the privilege of sending my son or daughter here to experience it for four years.

Baylor 1.0 is getting ready to start for a whole new group of 3,000 incoming freshmen. Their stories will be unique. Their stories will inspire. Will your son or daughter be among them? Don’t settle on just any college experience. Join the best. It may sound cliché but it is anything but cliché at Baylor. See for yourself. Come and listen closely over the next year as your child begins to write his or her own Baylor 1.0. It will be a beautiful story, indeed.

And that, as I always say, is the Baylor difference.

Bearathon 2017: Bears on the Loose

By Bernadette Cooper

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

People run for many different reasons: those wanting to tune out what’s around and just focus on pace, breathing and the great outdoors; those who want to take home the top prize in their respective category; those running on behalf of a cause or charity; those who want to simply say, “I finished…and here’s my shirt and medal to prove it.”  Others are among the crowded starting lines to meet like-minded folks (runners are indeed a different breed). There are first-timers, regardless of age, and one or two super impressive youth running alongside dad or mom with an energy and enthusiasm unique to a child enjoying a new activity. Often present are those who serve in our United States military, making the feat more impressive as they run with backpacks.

I’ve been exercising for as long as I can remember. In my mid-20s, I incorporated long distance running into my exercise regime for something different to mix up the 80s-workout routine blues. Upon her acceptance into Baylor, my daughter and I (both of us long-time runners) made a pact that we would begin a new tradition and “run among the Bears” each March in Baylor’s annual Bearathon. We made a promise to one another in August 2016 that we would conquer the “toughest half in Texas”.  After all, race day was 7 months away. That would provide plenty of time to train. “We’ve got this; no problem,” we said.

While I wasn’t as prepared for this race as I would have liked (I’d injured myself two months prior to race day and had not worked out since), I was still going to give it the old college try. Race day dawned clear and cool. For reasons beyond my control, I missed the start of the race. After a mini pity-party and a good cleansing cry, I got myself together. Arriving an hour late, I decided to make lemonade from the lemons handed me on that beautiful clear Saturday morning. There was a good wind that kept the temperatures from feeling stifling. A perfect day for a run.

My first thought was to volunteer, but it was clear Baylor and the Student Foundation had everything well under control. Plan B. I thought that the runners could always use another cheerleader throughout the course and at the finish line. I encouraged by clapping and hollering for the teachers, newbies, military. I overheard stories from other spectators who were on hand to cheer friends and family. There was a runner, fresh off a recovery of some sort, finishing a half marathon. I cheered for the swift, the slow and all runners in between. There were teachers, administrators, and students as far as the eye could see.

Standing on the sidelines allowed me to take in the beauty of the event. Baylor showed up in true Baylor form—a slew of tents with all kinds of goodies (nutritional and not so nutritional), families on hand to support a loved one (and strangers), and sororities and fraternities cheering their friends the loudest. It was an exciting time to be a Bear. A hearty congratulation to all the finishers.

Some may not realize this annual half marathon and 5K is a fundraising event, and the proceeds go back to students in the form of scholarships. Baylor’s vision to cultivate committed constituents who give back to the school and community is very much at work. It made this momma bear all kinds of proud to witness first hand.

Next year, Bearathon, I’ll be a Bear on a loose…hopefully with my Bear cub in tow.

Captured…by Baylor!

By Frances George

Years ago on our family farm, one of my nephews, Little David as we called him, was fishing with his granddaddy (my father) on the pond in one of our pastures. My young nephew caught a fish and handed it back to Granddaddy and while Daddy was taking out the hook and putting the fish on the string, he heard his little grandson whispering something. Granddaddy leaned in closer and listened carefully, “I can’t believe I caught a fish. I can’t believe I caught a fish.” David was in awe of this amazing feat and was simply whispering it to himself over and over in utter delight and joy. As my daddy was recounting that incident today, he said, “David was so proud of his accomplishment. It was one of the happiest days of his young life and one of the sweetest of mine.”

My father recounted this story to me on the heels of a phone call I had just received from my Baylor freshman daughter, Catherine. Dad and I were enjoying our last cup of coffee after a delightful spring day of visiting on the farm before I headed back to my house in town. Just before I rose to leave, Catherine called me on my cell, so I stayed a few more minutes to take the call before telling Daddy goodbye. Catherine was happily walking across campus on this spring day, following a very busy week of quizzes and papers and late nights. Just 24 hours earlier she had called, exhausted by seemingly endless assignments and longing for Easter break. But now she was all smiles and as she face-timed me, she said, “Just look at this beautiful campus of mine” and proceeded to pan her phone around the campus where the sky above was cloudless and blue, where trees were in full bloom, the grass was green, and students were happily greeting each other as paths crossed.

She said, “It has been such a great day Mom. I was sitting in my Sociology class and we were discussing college admissions. And all of a sudden, I looked around the room and thought, ‘This is my school. I was accepted to Baylor University! This is my college. This is my home. I am so happy to be here!’” She continued, “Mom, while I sat there, I just started smiling thinking about how fortunate I am to be at Baylor and how happy it makes me to be here more than any other place in the country. I just wanted you to know that!”

When I hung up the phone and recounted to Daddy this story of Catherine, he immediately told me the story of my nephew and the fish…. “I can’t believe I caught a fish. I can’t believe I caught a fish.” He said my story of Catherine reminded him of his story of Little David. We both smiled.

This is a simple story but sometimes simple stories are the best stories.

So, as your student considers where he or she will spend the next four years of their life, I hope that in the spring of 2018, you will receive a phone call as I did today. I hope that your student will pan the Baylor campus on his or her phone, having just left “Soc” and a discussion on college admissions and like Catherine, will have the wonderfully happy thought, “I can’t believe I caught a fish, a fish named Baylor” and then you will realize, as I did today, that “Baylor has now happily captured not only my daughter, but Baylor has also captured me”.

Caught by Baylor. Captured by joy.

And that, as I always say, is the Baylor difference.

The Blessing of Baylor

Waco (and Baylor) feel like home to our daughters.
Real-life sisters and now sorority sisters. Baylor is home for our family.

By Frances George

Many of you are in the middle of deciding on a college for your student for the fall of 2017. You have spent the past months applying to and now hearing from top universities all around the country with acceptances, deferrals, and perhaps even a few denied admission emails. So many emotions.

I have spent the past month in an East Asian country with my boarding school roommate who founded an orphanage some 25 years ago to rescue children out of the government welfare centers from a life unimaginable to a life of hope. She is dying of cancer and we went to tell her children goodbye.

After almost a month of being far away from home, I traveled 9,000+ miles back home last week, unpacked, repacked and within 24 hours of arriving in the United States after a month in East Asia, I flew to Waco to see my freshman daughter at Baylor. Within those 48 hours of travel halfway around the world ending on Baylor’s campus, I saw more contrasts than I can recount and yet after being on campus at Baylor for less than an hour, I came to appreciate The Blessing of Baylor on a deeper level than I had ever known before.

I saw young adults in East Asia enslaved to government tyranny that rules over every aspect of their life and at Baylor, I saw young adults thriving, with a strong sense of purpose, a fresh new generation free to choose…everything from coffee to classes to careers. Their joy in life was reflected on their faces and the way they carried themselves on campus and how they interacted with every person they met. The difference was palpable and I was deeply moved when I saw the contrast so clearly, though I have been on Baylor’s campus many, many times before.  And so I began to write down what kept ringing over and over in my head and heart, “The Blessing of Baylor” as observed from one short weekend on campus.

The purpose of my trip to Baylor was ostensibly, to watch my second daughter be initiated into her sorority, the sorority that her older sister had pledged four years earlier. But my real purpose was much bigger. It was to relay something to you, as parents and potential Baylor students and to encourage anyone who reads this, that Baylor is unique among college campuses. What happens at Baylor is indeed…A Blessing. I saw my joyful daughter come to the luncheon proudly wearing her older sister’s pin, the pin that belonged to her sister, now passed down to a new generation of Kappas. I saw mothers and grandmothers, godmothers, friends, all surrounding these 106 young newly initiated women who will make a difference on their campus. I listened as the sorority faculty sponsor, who had also pinned her granddaughter that morning, a 5th generation sister, open our luncheon in prayer and who prayed beautifully for these girls, praying sincerely in Jesus’ name, not just to a random higher power. I know this lovely woman well and she represents all that is good about Baylor. Her faith, her integrity are genuine. She is The Blessing of Baylor and a blessing to me.

I walked through my daughter’s house in which she will be living next fall, met her new roommates from Texas and from California, all who sought out my freshman out-of-state daughter and asked her to live with them! Upperclassmen who want to pour into my daughter’s life and shepherd her. As I walked around the house, beautifully decorated, warm and inviting, there hung on the walls scripture after scripture, intentionally placed, words that reflect the core of who these girls are. Sprinkled throughout this house are plenty of indications that this house has a ton of fun but this house also has a ton of faith. This house is The Blessing of Baylor.

Earlier in the week, as I was traveling home from East Asia, I received a text from our daughter regarding a meeting with one professor. Catherine had commented to him that costumes are her favorite part of any film or production. He offered to show Catherine and a friend all of the Baylor costumes, how they are made and “It was incredible! I was amazed. I told him I’d love to see one of the rehearsals and watch it all come together and he said, “I think I can arrange that.”” A professor who goes above and beyond to encourage a student. This professor is The Blessing of Baylor.

Later, in a class in which our daughter is struggling, she emailed the professor with a bit of a cry for help and immediately, Catherine received this response and shared it with me: “He is eager to meet with me and see what help I’ll be able to get for his class, and gave me reading tips. He was so encouraging, Mom!”

These are just two examples of two professors. I could share more. They are examples of The Blessing of Baylor.

Finally, the most tender example, the blessing for which I am most thankful, arrived in a text from my daughter accompanied by a picture just this week. Catherine sent a picture of an item from a recent care package I sent to my daughter and her dear roommate (another Blessing of Baylor). In the care package, I placed two crosses with the girls’ sorority name inscribed on each. Catherine sent a picture of the cross hanging on her closet door and this is the message she wrote to me:

“The Kappa cross will be a good reminder of a wonderful accomplishment and of a great blessing. It will remind me of the One who enables me and that He will forever be by my side to help me.” There is an incredible joy watching your daughter mature in an environment that nourishes this type of thinking and philosophy of life, a daughter who has chosen to embrace The Blessing of Baylor. That perhaps is The (most wonderful) Blessing of Baylor to a parent.

So what is The Blessing of Baylor? Simple. It’s the lifeblood of Baylor’s history that is present today. You see it is as you walk around campus and find scripture inscribed on building after building. You see it too, inscribed on the hearts of the students. You see it in the excellence coupled with deep joy exuding from not only the students but in the faculty as well. It’s in administrators and top staff members who remember that all they do, they do in Jesus name. It’s in the life of the professors who go above and beyond to help students at any level. The Blessing of Baylor is evident up and down the residence halls where our sons and daughters live, on the bulletin boards, in the encouraging conversations that take place all through the day and night. The Blessing of Baylor is found in new friends, new sisters saying, “I want you to live with us and we’ll show you the way home!” The Blessing of Baylor is tangibly found hanging on the door of a freshman who is reminded every time she looks at it that “He brought me to Baylor and He has a plan for my future and my success as I keep my eyes on Him.”

The Blessing of Baylor. You need to look no further than this amazing place to see it. Like the picture says, “Waco (Baylor) feels like home.”

Our family certainly believes it. And we hope you will too.

We hope you’ll call Baylor home next fall and experience it for yourself! You will not be disappointed.

And that, as I have said many times before, is the Baylor difference.