2019 Homecoming Speaker — Kelly Driscoll (’09)

Each year the BIC invites one of our outstanding alumni to return to campus for Homecoming and share a lecture with our students, faculty, and alumni. This year we are thrilled to have Kelly Driscoll (’09), the president and founder of HEYDAY Cold-Brew Coffee in Austin, Texas, as our distinguished guest. We recently interviewed Ms. Driscoll to learn more about her journey since graduating from Baylor. We hope you enjoy the interview, and we hope you will join us for her lecture on October 11 at 2:30 pm in Marrs McLean Science Building, room 101. Ms. Driscoll will speak on the topic “Living the Examined Life at Baylor and Beyond.”

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

I graduated from Baylor in August of 2009 with a BBA in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Sociology.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? 

Following graduation, I was on the hunt for a career path that tapped both my entrepreneurial interests and passion for working with people. A much more challenging endeavor than expected! The search for my first job alone taught me a lot about humility, relationship building and keeping an open mind.

The first opportunity I found was at a winery in Gruene TX, where you never knew who was going to walk in the door. A last minute call led me to Fara Coffee, a local roaster based in Austin. Through seven years working in sales and marketing at Fara, I found a true passion for coffee. I fell in love with the global impact of the coffee industry; that something so simple as a cup of coffee travels through hundreds of hands and thousands of miles just to reach the consumer. In this, I saw the opportunity to create real change, a way to address both human need and make a positive difference through the delivery.

In the Spring of 2016, my partner (in both life & business) and I launched HEYDAY Cold Brew Coffee. HEYDAY was built with the intention to bring refreshing, great tasting cold brew coffee with clean ingredients to market. More than just a coffee company, HEYDAY is all about celebrating good times and inspiring a healthy, positive lifestyle.

What does your daily work look like now at HEYDAY? What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

Every day is different! Growing from a local Austin company to one with national distribution, we are continually met with new opportunities and challenges. The aspect that brings me the most joy is innovation – the thrill of bringing a new product to market and seeing our customers enjoy first-hand. Beyond being a continual learning experience, I love that HEYDAY gives me the freedom and flexibility to live a balanced life – in health, creativity, relationships and career.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

Most importantly, exploring new concepts and experiences. Motivation to say “yes” to experiences outside my comfort level and reflect on what lessons come about. Never stop learning and exploring. Through personal interaction, reading, and travel, I have deep appreciation for and interest in other cultures.

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

The community feel of the BIC, fascinating professors, and lasting friendships with like-minded students. Each field trip was a highlight, a favorite would be the Japanese Garden in Ft. Worth – a peaceful inspirational retreat from school life. As an out-of-stater, I really appreciated seeing such unique destinations throughout Texas and their tie-ins to our curriculum.

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

Socrates’ “an unexamined life is not worth living.” One of the very first discussions in BIC, remains a core philosophy I continue to reflect on to this day. The importance of exploration, self-understanding, and empathy for other people and their perspectives.

What are your goals for the future?

I hope to see HEYDAY built into a revolutionary brand that ultimately provides value to our customers and partners. I aspire to continue to travel, seeking inspiration around the world, and spend my time working to make a positive difference where I can.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

If you would have told me ten years ago that I’d be where I am today, I would be equally surprised and unsurprised. Surprised because at that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation. Unsurprised because I’ve always felt motivated to do something beyond a typical job and kept up the work ethic to keep building on the foundation we receive in school.

Things will not turn out as planned, there will be many detours, but stay true to what motivates you and be willing to take an alternate path. The real value is in the journey and the time we have right now – it is all we truly have. Take the time to enjoy where you are, who you are with, and share kindness with others. Make today your Heyday!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to attend Baylor and participate in the BIC! Thank you for offering the chance to share my story, I hope it inspires others to keep learning & exploring their passions.

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Alumni Updates- Spring 2019

Candace Weddle Livingston (’99): After graduating Baylor (Classics) in the first BIC class, Candace earned an MA in Art History from Tulane University and a PhD from the University of Southern California, specializing in Greco-Roman art and archaeology. Since 2012, she has taught at the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, where she is Associate Professor of Art History. Her research focus is the sensory experience of ancient animal sacrifices. A popular speaker, Candace travels worldwide lecturing on art and archaeology, and appeared as an expert in the 2015 PBS documentary series Ancient Roads: From Christ to Constantine. In 2018, she was elected a Fellow in the Explorers Club, the world’s most prestigious organization dedicated to exploration, an honor she shares with such well-known individuals as Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, filmmaker James Cameron, and all of the men who have walked on the Moon. Candace lives in Greenville, SC with her husband Todd Livingston, who writes comics and writes, directs, and produces for film and television.

Omoniyi Omotoso (’00), MD.MPH (BIC program, B.A. Biochemistry 2000). Since graduation, slowly my dream has become reality as I’m now a proud dad to my bright daughter Soley (7 3/4 as she’d say). After training at Washington University in St Louis Medical School, I moved out to Northern California for pediatrics residency. Since then we’ve made a home now in Alameda. For the past 7 years, I’ve worked at LifeLong Medical Care – a Federally Qualified Community Health Center network. Now I serve as the Associate Medical Director for a pediatric-only clinic and the Pediatrics Clinical Lead for the organization as a whole. Looking forward to the summer with lots of hiking planned.

Emily Nicholson Simcox (’03) is the Vice President of Development for the Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, D.C. She and her husband of 11 years , Rob Simcox, live in Arlington, Virginia, and have two boys R.J. (4) and Max (2).  They love seeing Baylor friends who visit the national capital and can be reached at emysimcox@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ben Davis (’04) and his wife Gracy recently moved to Denver, Colorado. Ben is a Communications Specialist for Boeing. He and his wife also are expecting a child sometime in November. Ben has already experienced the gracious hospitality of fellow Denver residents and BIC’ers Renee Bouchardy Hardy (2004) and Lindsey Deal Bratcher (2004), who are teaching him how to survive life at a mile elevation. Contact at bendbear@gmail.com.

Holly Joyner (’07) recently celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary with Ryan Joyner, Baylor graduate (’07), a Baylor theatre professor. They have one son Jameson (4) and live in Waco, TX. Holly recently was promoted to Global Baylor Program Manager. In this position she co-leads the Global Baylor Initiative which is Baylor’s Quality Enhancement Plan to lead Baylor students and Baylor as a whole to a more globally engaged community through course work, a certificate program, study abroad, and leadership series. Holly looks forward to working with a new generation of Baylor students (such as BIC) on this initiative.

Rachel Muldez (’07): I very much enjoyed my time at Baylor as a Studio Art major. Since then, I have acquired two Master’s degrees in Ceramics and Sculpture and one Master of Fine Arts degree in Art. I currently teach Ceramics at Richland Community College and have a full time studio art practice that has taken me to many exciting places. As a professional artist I’ve shown in galleries and universities all over the US and in the Czech Republic, been a gallery director at one of the oldest artist run galleries in North America, been written about in numerous magazines, news papers, and even the occasional student essay. I’ve shown work in National Museums and spoken on public radio. The art I create is nature based. I use only natural materials and reference nature from the microscopic to the macroscopic. I’m 11years into my professional career and I’m excited for the years to come. For a look at my art work Google my name or find me on Instagram @muldezart.

Kevin Nguyen (’07): I graduated from Baylor with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. I spent a year teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand after I graduated from Baylor. I graduated with a Master of Science in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University in California in 2010. Since then, I have worked at the University of Houston for over 8 years. Currently, I am the First Year Experience Undergraduate Advisor for the College of Technology. I completed another Bachelor of Science degree in Health within the College of Education at the University of Houston and also completed a Corporate Entrepreneurship Certificate within the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. I received the 2019  “Inclusion and Advocacy Award” by the Center for Student Involvement at the University of Houston. I also serve as a member of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. I have also volunteered for a couple of non-profit organizations like Bunnies on the Bayou, Inc., Human Rights Campaign (Houston Chapter), and Pride Houston

Keisha Ray (’07): New job. From assistant professor at Texas State University to assistant professor at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, McGovern Medical School, McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics (UT medical school for short). I teach ethics and humanities to medical residents, medical students and students at other schools in the university (dental, nursing, etc.).

 

 

Erin Greneaux (’08 ): In the past year I have published two books. Learnable Moments for Moms: 100 Devotions to Discover God in the Everyday was released in November 2018. It helps moms discover the many ways that God reveals Himself in the everyday experiences of motherhood. Inconceivable Redemption: God’s Presence in Miscarriage and Infertility released in May 2019 and hit new release bestseller status on Amazon in its genre. The book takes women by the hand and walks them through the giref of losing a baby, the uncertainty of waiting, and the hope and redemption available that can be found in the midst of loss through Christ.

Suzanne Kraai (’09) has a deep-seeded love of Baylor, and the BIC experience! She graduated in 2009 and also holds an MS in Educational Administration. She has served at Eastern Christian School, outside of NYC, in a variety of roles including HS Honors and CP English teacher, HS Musical Theater and HS/MSChoral Director. The past 2 years she has served in an administrative role as Director of Extended Learning, which includes programs such as Before and After School Care and Clubs Pk-6th grade, Service Learning Pk-12th grade, Camps Pk-8th grade, Early College program development, and several short term international/cultural exchange programs. She and her husband are also co-owners of a small business in Warwick, NY, “Pine Island Brewery” and are opening another brewery this fall highlighting barrel-aging production, the local terroir, as well as a venue space with some retail operations. They are proud parents to a 3-year old son and a daughter on the way and give our Lord all the glory for any successes and challenges along the journey.

Zaire Paschal (’09) (formerly Adams) recently moved to Japan to teach English to Japanese students. He currently resides in Hiroshima City. He was teaching English in Texas public schools the previous five years. He is also working on completing three novels based on a world of his own design like a true BIC nerd. He hopes to finish in the next year or so. Beyond this, he posts memes on Facebook. Zaire was an 09 graduate.

Meaghan (McNeill) Bond (’10) and Greg Bond welcomed their son Daniel Gregory in October 2018. Meaghan is working as a research scientist and lecturer in the Rice 360 Institute for Global Health.

Raymond L. Panneton (BIC, ’10) has joined the law firm of Daniel & Associates, LLC in Houston, Texas.  Having spent almost three-years practicing in the area of complex business litigation, Ray has returned to his roots and is again practicing in the area of personal injury litigation, with a focus on pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.  He can be reached at ray@dpdlawfirm.com.

Lucas C. Rodriguez (’10), MS, PhD- CEO, CerSci Therapeutics. As an update I am including an article which was done on me and my company I started during graduate school. Click on link to learn more: https://dallasinnovates.com/meet-the-innovators-lucas-rodriguez-cersci-therapeutics/

 

Samantha (Rylander) Wallace (’10) is happy to announce both the safe arrival of her son, Lucas Michael, last September, and the official publication of her first novel, The Heart of Everything, last December!  The Heart of Everything is “a paranormal romance with a Christian twist” published by Covenant Books under her pen name, Lynn Wallace.  The book is available in both print and digital formats via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple, among other retailers – visit www.lynnwallaceauthor.com to learn more!  She continues to work part-time as a nurse for the Victoria Eye Clinic in Victoria, TX while her husband serves as teacher/ librarian/ media center director for Edna ISD.  They also recently bought their first house and are excited to be moving in this summer!

Joben David (’11) After graduation in 2011, Joben spent a year working for the Walt Disney Company before returning to Baylor for Graduate School, graduating in 2015.  After a stint living and working in Washington, DC he embarked on a year long adventure traveling through the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. Joben returned to his home country of India in 2017 to serve as the Director of Operations at Justice & Hope, a non-profit that fights against sex-trafficking, child sexual abuse and domestic violence. He continues to credit the BIC for his unbreakable New York Times addiction, cultivated disdain for all other “honors” programs and friendships that defy the bounds of distance and time.

Katy (Johnson) Stevick (’11): Graduated from Baylor with a double major in International Studies and Russian. She lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina with her husband and fellow Baylor grad Michael Stevick (BA ’09 and MA ’11) where he serves in the US Army and she found her passion helping military families plan for financial security through her work as a Financial Advisor. His work did not take them to far off places together (as promised) so they make up for their stateside location in frequent overseas trips and welcomed their greatest adventure yet, baby Audrey Elise, in July 2018.  That same year Katy was named 2018 AFI Fort Bragg Military Spouse of the Year.

Cole Short (’13) After graduating from Baylor in December 2013 with a degree in International Studies, Cole moved to Boston for his Masters in Economics. Following his time in Boston, he completed a PhD in Business Administration (Strategy and Entrepreneurship) at the University of Georgia. Cole and his wife Kristin–who is currently working on her PhD in Financial Planning–are moving to Los Angeles this July where he will start a new job as an Assistant Professor of Strategy at Pepperdine University.

 

 

Chris Ha (’14): After graduation from Baylor in 2014, Chris started medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, and is set to graduate in May of 2019. Most recently, he completed an additional one-year fellowship at Duke Divinity School as part of the Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative.  Chris and his wife Melissa are ecstatic to have welcomed their first baby boy, Alden, into the world in December of 2018. They look forward to moving as a family up to Rochester, Minnesota this summer for Chris to pursue his residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic.

Lance Hitt (’14): I graduated in 2014 (BIC: Political Science, Philosophy). After graduation I went home to Nashville and worked for the Tennessee General Assembly and then a law firm for a year. Thereafter, I went to Florida State University College of Law where I will graduate this May. I’ve worked in several areas of law over the past few years, and hope to transition into a compliance role with a broker-dealer in NYC after taking the bar exam in July.

Rachel (Slate) McKinley (’15): I will be graduating from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in May of this year and will be moving to the East coast to complete my Pediatrics residency at MUSC in Charleston, SC. I am excited to finally be a physician! Plus, I even matched to the same residency program with a fellow BIC graduate, Mary Hamilton! Another big accomplishment this year is that I got married! Though my new husband didn’t go to Baylor, he still came to Waco with me to watch a Baylor football game and proudly wears his Baylor shirt. We’ll be cheering on the bears from the beach in Charleston!

Anthony Farfan (BSW ‘16, MSW ‘17): After graduating with his masters in social work in 2017 from the Houston campus, Anthony stayed in the city and took some time to study for his state licensure exam. Afterwards, he worked in Houston ISD until an opening for a pediatric clinic in the Texas Medical Center presented itself. The UT Pediatric High Risk Clinic treats babies right out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) through 21 years of age who depend on tracheostomies, ventilators, have cystic fibrosis, are severely premature, and other chronic and life endangering complications. Anthony is currently a social worker in this clinic helping educate families on resources and coping skills, advocating for the patients rights, and addressing mental health issues like postpartum depression. His internship experience in Waco, his work in Houston, and his faith have taught him to serve with a full heart. He plans to begin supervision for his Licensed Clinical Social Worker accreditation in 2020 and pursue a doctorate in education down the road.

Courtenay Klauber (’16):  I am graduating this spring from NC State University with a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration. As part of my program, I got to study abroad in China to learn more about Chinese higher education. Visiting Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, was a highlight of the trip, especially after reading the Analects in World Cultures years ago! After graduation, I will stay at NC State to work as an International Student and Scholar Advisor.

Priyankaa Bhatia (’17): I am at the NIH in my postbac lab position until July of this year, after which I will be heading back to Dallas to start graduate school at UT Southwestern! I’ll be doing the PhD program in Biomedical Sciences. I don’t know what I’ll be researching yet but I’m excited to start go back to school and spend a year rotating in labs to find a good fit for my thesis work.

Isabeau “Beau” Posey (‘17): joined the Baylor Teaching in Thailand Program directly after graduation. After spending a year in Waco, Beau is currently living in Sagamihara, Japan as a Professor of English Foreign Language at Sagami Women’s University through Westgate.

 

 

 

 

Audrey (Hamlin) Kelley (’18) graduated from Baylor with a BS in All-Level Special Education. After graduation she married the love of her life a fellow and current BICer, Connor Kelley (’20). She currently works in her dream job as a Functional Academics teacher working with an amazing group of students in 4th through 8th grade with moderate to severe disabilities at Robinson Intermediate School, just down the road from her alma mater. She teaches each academic subject, as well as functional skills such as cooking and communication, including American Sign Language and Braille.

 

Katie Méndez (’18): I am about to finish my first year of law school at American University Washington College of Law. This spring was busy but successful – I wrote on to the American University International Law Review and accepted a judicial intern position with the Eastern District Court of Virginia for this summer. I will also be working as a research assistant with a professor to help him edit his administrative law textbook and writing my comment for the International Law Review over the summer. Next fall, I will be starting my Masters in International Affairs in addition to my J.D. I’m looking forward to using the skills the BIC taught me as I continue working towards my J.D./M.A. in international law and affairs.

Rachel Davy (’18): I graduated in May of 2018 from Baylor LHSON. During a long initial job search, I moved back home to wintry Illinois and began volunteering in the high school ministry with . . . surprise! A fellow BICer! (Mand Elliott, class of 2015). I now work as a nurse on a medical-surgical/oncology floor at a local community hospital. When I’m not at work, I can be found volunteering at church in the high school ministry and the food pantry, pursuing my joy of swing dancing that began at Baylor, and playing open gym volleyball. Plus, most recently, a spontaneous weekend trip to visit former roommate and fellow-BICer Gracie Davis (class of 2018)!

Sofie Sonner (‘18) graduated from Baylor with a BS in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and a minor in French. She has been living on Kinmen Island, Taiwan, for the past year on a Fulbright fellowship to teach English. In the fall, she will attend Walla Walla University to research octopus physiology and pursue an MS in Biology for the next two years.

Calleigh Swift (‘18): I have just finished my first year of graduate school at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work!

 

 

 

Soo Matthews (’18):  I am currently tutoring part-time while studying for the LSAT. I will be moving to Denver in July to get ready to do a teaching fellowship with Teach for America Colorado. I have already been hired by a school called University Prep. It’s an elementary school in the heart of Denver.

Austin P Allaire (’18) graduated a few short months ago with a BBA in Accounting and International Business. Since graduating in December, Austin has spent time working with KPMG’s International Tax practice in Dallas, Texas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Keeping with the passion for international work he developed as a student in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, Austin will undertake an MSc in International Business as City, University of London’s Cass Business School this fall. London BICers, feel free to reach out at Austin_Allaire@alumni.baylor.edu

 

Zane Zovak (’18) Since graduating in December, Zane has been a fellow at the John Jay Institute outside of Philadelphia where he has explored political philosophy and Christian traditions in this semester-long residency program. He encourages anyone interested in public service who has a strong faith background to consider this fully-funded program as it has been extremely influential in his vocational development. In the summer, he will be interning with California Policy Center where he hopes to gain experience from grassroots-level policy work. He hopes to return to DC on the other side of summer to focus on foreign policy approaches to China and hopes to build upon his appreciation for different cultures that was cultivated during his time in the BIC. Zane truly believes “the unexamined life isn’t worth living” and hopes to pay homage to Socrates in his continued studies.

 

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2019 Senior Banquet Speech — Kennen Dickens

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019 we gathered to celebrate the BIC graduating students of 2019. As part of the banquet, Kennen Dickens was voted by her peers as the female BIC student to represent her graduating class and was invited to offer a few words to her fellow graduating seniors. We hope you enjoy reading her remarks from that evening’s festivities.

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Well, here we are! I’m being honest in saying that I wasn’t exactly sure what “here” would look like, and I’m pretty certain what I thought “here” would be has changed about five times. I remember the day when we were Baby BICers, booking it to Large Lecture in Marrs McClane Auditorium because we (or rather, I) mixed up small group and large group dates in our schedule. Now here we are, running a little less on campus, and getting ready to take what we have learned and plunge ourselves into the abyss that is life after Baylor. Oh, how far we have come from being those lil’ Baby BICers. We have walked our way through the rest of our classes and made it to the final bookend of our college career.

I keep coming back to the great thankfulness I have for the BIC and all of the connections that come from being a member of this rare community. There are several characteristics which BICers have accumulated over these last four years that I expect will remain influential in whatever avenues we take in the years to come: the lasting motivation of Curiosity, willingness to enter challenging circumstances, and the Hope born from Curiosity.

We have read from great artists, historians, activist, writers, and pioneers throughout these last couple of years, each driven by the need to not only find answers but to also redefine the way we ask questions. In their seeking they found understanding and humility, knowing that there is oh so much more to be sought after that which we have barely touched. There’s something about having Curiosity as a motivator. She is never quite satiated, which is a lovely yet equally dangerous thing, but as BICers we are not ones to shy away from perilous grounds, are we? Within one newly found item of Curiosity arrives the undeniable desire to pursue another.

A BICer is known for their willingness to press into difficult questions. If there is an uncomfortable or challenging incident in Baylor Chapel or on the Baylor campus, whatcha bet that there is a BIC student or professor there in the midst of it. BIC –the best kind of troublemakers, indeed. BICers have this great desire to press into hard things and challenge common subscriptions. “That’s just the way it is” isn’t a viable answer for us. Something I have learned as a BICer is that familiarity is a lovely place to live for a time, but we find our true selves through stepping outside and plunging into the unknown, grappling with our assumptions of what we think we know. Throughback to Plato’s Cave, am I right?

However, as I look back on our time as members of the BIC and what this program has taught us about living, I begin to see the concept of Curiosity in a new light. Curiosity is synonymous with Hope. If anything they are co-motivators and game-changers. As our Paw Prints have depleted over the years printing several trees worth of readings, these authors and professors have fueled this truth within us that change is inevitable. And healthy. Sometimes it’s unhurried and other times it comes on faster than we can gauge, but as BICers we have trained our perspective to see the challenges around us as means to understand and seek out greater truths. Where there is still yet more to be discovered, there will always be Hope. As BICers with this desire to take on the uncomfortable and stoke our curiosity for the foreign, we may step into this post-Baylor abyss and onto the shoulders of the professors, authors, and friends who have shaped our BIC experience.

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Note from the Director — Spring 2019

Greetings to BIC friends and family,

I hope the beginning of the summer finds each of you well.

My own summer plans involve a lot of time at the computer. I am immersed in writing Plato’s Socrates on Socrates: Autobiography as Public Philosophy. As I read over my Director’s note from this time last year, I see that I was working on the proposal for the book this time last year. The proposal was indeed completed and accepted. The manuscript is due to the publisher in September. When I’m not hard at work on that project, I’ll be doing a lot of yoga, playing with the dogs, and travelling with Jeff (and the dogs) to Colorado for two weeks.

As always, there is a lot happening on the Baylor campus. I continue to enjoy serving on the Advisory Board for Better Together. Many BIC students are involved in this organization as well. Be sure to check out the great work they are doing to promote awareness around a variety of challenging social issues through the cultivation of interfaith dialogue.

Within the BIC itself, I’m pleased to report that Social World I is expanding its work in the Waco community. Starting this Fall, every BIC student will volunteer with Indian Spring Elementary school as part of the class. World Cultures III has also been involved in revamping its curriculum to include a section on Africa. We are also offering new capstones that deal with the complex issues around race and gender.

We are having some faculty turn over. Dean Thomas Hibbs will be leaving us in one short week to become President of the University of Dallas. We wish him the very best and thank him for many years of support of the BIC. This, of course, means that Stacey Hibbs will be leaving us as well. She was just recently promoted to senior lecturer. She will now bring her excellent teaching to University of Dallas students. We will miss them and their BIC capstone course on Friendship (read Stacey Hibbs’ Senior Recognition Banquet speech).

Two other BIC faculty members received promotions this Spring. Jason Whitlark was promoted to Full Professor. He is the first Full Professor in the BIC! Sarah Walden received tenure. She is now an Associate Professor! We are so proud of them.

Finally, I want to welcome Colleen Zori to the BIC faculty. She will join the teaching team for Natural World and World Cultures III. She has been teaching in World Cultures II for several years. Colleen will replace Sharon Conry who will retire next year after many years of service in the BIC. We will miss Sharon and are glad she’ll remain with us in BIC a little while longer.

Have a wonderful summer everyone.

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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2019 Senior Banquet Speech — Noah Ward

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019 we gathered to celebrate the BIC graduating students of 2019. As part of the banquet, Noah Ward was voted by his peers as the male BIC student to represent his graduating class and was invited to offer a few words to his fellow graduating seniors. We hope you enjoy reading his remarks from that evening’s festivities.

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Imagine if you will a group of students – about 200 hundred of them. Coming in from across, Texas, the country, heck even the world. They enter a program they know absolutely nothing about and on the first few days of class alone they are told a beach ball is an idea and that they were trapped in a cave of shadows and idols which they must escape.

To add on to this chaotic scene imagine they are introduced to some of the strangest and most intimidating minds they have ever met. Mentors who would go from talking about the idea of I-Thou and the social structure of Aztec civilization one minute, to discussing Game of Thrones and dancing with belly dancers the next. No one would have blamed these kids if they had run for the hills. If they had packed up and said this is not what I signed up for, I want a “normal” college experience.

But for some reason, the kids did not leave. Perhaps they were fascinated by the classes, these strange mix of English, history, and philosophy in which they were asked questions they never even thought to consider. Perhaps they loved the real-world nature of the program as it took them into everyday life and introduced them to their religious and national neighbors through field trips and study abroad. Perhaps they found themselves connected to this group of people who were as wildly intelligent and hungry for knowledge as them, and then they realized they all also shared a love of “The Office,” “Bo-Jack Horseman” and hey don’t get them started on John Mulaney.

Whatever their reason, and it was likely a mix, these students stuck together. Through long term papers, hand cramping test, and incredibly dense readings they would skim over right before class. They sat in small group together, engaged in respectful conversations and in some cases intellectual cage matches (Landon, glad you could make it back for this banquet). Yet, the group held fast to one another, still not entirely sure what journey they were on, but strangely liking it all the same. They found themselves sitting around outside of class discussing the previous days lecture. Phrases like “This is water,” “The True the Good and the Beautiful” and “The unexamined Life is not worth living” began to make sense. Some of them became friends, others best friends, and some of them more than friends, yet they all gained a respect and appreciation for other members of this rag tag gang of students.

They stuck together through tragedies – personal and familial. Through the losing friends who had experienced this grand adventure with them. Rest in Piece David Grotberg and Noah Antony, we know you sit with us at this banquet today in our hearts and in our minds. They learned how to cry together, they learned how to be angry together, they learned how to live together and be there for one another. And suddenly this group of students was not just growing intellectually but socially, and spiritually. Suddenly this group of students was looking back on itself and realized in just a few years they had completely transformed. Some of them had changed their world views and others had maintained the same beliefs but gained a new, stronger perspective on them.

Eventually, however, the program began to fade into the background. The students were not all in the same classes, but still the connection remained. Each one would still meet up with other members and chat about what was new. They would also often find themselves recounting discussions of old which they had had when they first met. They would completely derail conversations with, “Do you remember that time in BIC when…” which drove non-members of that program insane.

And finally, they came to a night when they celebrated this grand adventure. When they celebrated all they learned, felt, and experienced together. A night when one of the more nerdy and obnoxious members of the group stood at a podium and examined the last four years of their life together and had one determination to make, that we have created something beautiful my friends. That we have created something integral to human existence and flourishing. Something which can only be formed over time, through shared experience, joy and suffering. We have created a community. A place determined not by location but by connection. A community of seekers, striving for more than a life but a meaning filled life.

College can be an isolating place. Especially for the academic inclined such as ourselves who will sacrifice health, and social life for a grade. Yet, we found ourselves in a community of people whom we could and had to lean upon. So we discovered our greatest asset in learning was not our own minds alone, but the support of these beautiful minds that surround us, to assist us in understanding the complex issues like visual rhetoric or dual consciousness, yes, but also the much more difficult issues of how do I be present with someone else, how do I care for someone else, how do I be in community with someone.

We have been given the gift of not just an academic education but a life education. Although our student loans may disagree, this is fascinating gift we cannot pay back. It is merely something which we may now be grateful for. Grateful to the professors and the program of course, but also toward one another. And with this gratefulness in mind we in true BIC fashion must take the lessons of life and community which we learned here and work to find place for that in the world beyond college. We will find times in work, in church, in our families to foster this same idea of community. It is only right we share the gift of community with others just as it has been shared with us. With that said I can only say one thing. Thank you for being in community with me. Nothing but love for you all.

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2019 Senior Banquet Speech — Dr. Stacey Hibbs

For the 2019 BIC Senior Banquet, the BIC recognized Drs. Thomas and Stacey Hibbs for their extended service to both BIC and the Honors College. On July 1, Dean Thomas Hibbs will become President of the University of Dallas, having served as Dean of Baylor’s Honor’s College since 2003. We are incredibly grateful for Dean Hibbs’ service to Baylor and BIC, but there might not be as many who have known of the service of Dr. Stacey Hibbs during this same period. Dr. Stacey Hibbs has served as Lecturer in BIC, where she most recently taught World Cultures I, World Cultures IV, Social World I, and along with Dean Thomas Hibbs, the BIC Capstone course. We were grateful to have Dr. Stacey Hibbs with us for the Senior Recognition Banquet, where she offered the following comments.

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I would like to begin this evening, by apologizing in advance. For those of you who know me well, you know how much I dread large groups—at least there is no technology involved. Seriously, when I had to give large group presentations it was like an out-of-body experience—I never knew afterward what I had actually said. I also had interesting moments when I was watching other large group presentations, and I wonder if you ever had the same experience? Sometimes I would be watching and I would be distracted by very deep and important thoughts—Is Jason Whitlark a Jedi master? Chuck McDaniel is…the most collegial man in the world. Darn it, both of the Zori’s have better hair than I do! Wow, Stephen Jug has more costumes than I have clothes! And the inevitable—Mark Long is going to make me cry.

These random thoughts while BIC’ing lead me to something that I hope is a little more profound. My husband and I have been teaching a small contingent of your fellow BIC students in a capstone class on Friendship. One of the books we have been reading is C.S. Lewis’ the 4 loves. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the work, the four loves are Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity. And those are the subjects I would like to address tonight.

In BIC, affection arises naturally through shared experience. You all were randomly brought together and thrust into a common curriculum. You learned to extend grace to those of us who are graceless—can Hibbs even use technology? And We learned to tolerate your little idiosyncrasies as well—without naming names, some of you required a little bit of extra patience and attention—you know who you are. Yet, we bear with each other out of affection. We are part of the BIC.

In BIC, you have also experienced friendship. As Lewis puts it, friendship is ‘that luminous, tranquil, rational world of relationships freely chosen.” Your individuality leads you to seek out those who share a particular interest, who are “travelers on the same quest.” Friendship asks the profound question, “Do you see the same truth?” When you find friends, you will “fight beside them, read with them, argue with them, and pray with them.” Friendships are forged in the BIC.

Some of you will have found erotic love in the BIC—not the random search for physical pleasure, but a search for the beloved—the one you will marry. This is your partner in life. Two immortal souls drawn together for a good greater than the self. And, if you find yourself in need of an officiant—the BIC can provide this as well—see Sarah Walden.

Finally, Lewis speaks of the need-love and gift love that is informed by God himself—and it is a love that involves transformation and brokenness. It involves “forbearance, tolerance, and forgiveness.” Charity. How do we draw nearer to God and to others? What is required of us to do so? As Lewis puts it, “We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if he chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”

The BIC may have broken your heart—the empty chairs that are here—friends like David and Noah—who are not.

And now if I could have all of the BIC faculty and staff stand and remain standing.

And, now it is time to move on. It is fitting and proper for you to do so. And it is fitting and proper for us to let you—our reward as teachers is to be able to say with confidence, to paraphrase Lewis, you need us no longer.

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Alumni Interviews — Sofie Sonner (’18)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Sofie Sonner (’18). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I graduated from Baylor in May 2018. My major was Biology with a concentration in Ecology and my minor was French.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

I was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English abroad for the year after I graduated from Baylor. I currently live on Kinmen, Taiwan, a remote island a mile off the coast of China. Here, I work at an elementary school of about 100 students and teach English and American culture classes to kindergarten through sixth grade.

With the younger kids, it’s mainly learning the ABCs, colors, and simple songs. Starting in 3rd grade, the students learn basic vocabulary words and sentences so my job is to make it fun and help them learn. Some of my classes are solo taught and some of them I co-teach with a local English teacher. It’s been really interesting to see the differences between Taiwanese and American schools; for example, Taiwanese elementary schools don’t have a janitor. Instead, the kids clean the school every morning at 7:30 am. They also all brush their teeth after lunch and take a nap (even when they’re in middle school).

What have you enjoyed most about living in Taiwan and teaching English during your Fulbright fellowship? What is something you have learned through the experience?

I have greatly enjoyed living abroad and learning about a culture that I previously did not know well. Kinmen Island has a very unique history and relationship with China and Taiwan, since it’s governed by Taiwan but closer to China. It has a strong military history from years of war with China, and the island has many military tunnels, bunkers, and anti-landing beach spikes as a result. It also has endemic wildlife and plants that are found only on the island, and its locals enjoy food that differs from that of mainland Taiwan.

I’ve most enjoyed exploring the island, learning about its culture, and engaging with its people, especially through interacting with the students at my school. There’s a language barrier between us so sometimes they don’t understand me but they always make an effort to communicate and sometimes they’re hilarious. They’re usually excited to share with me or tell me stories even if part of it has to be acted out.

A lot of growth and resilience comes with living abroad long-term, especially in regard to the language barrier and cultural differences. I’ve learned how to communicate with people that speak other languages, learned to teach English to non-native speakers, learned about cultural subtleties and customs, and developed a global perspective.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

Since leaving Baylor, and America, my BIC education has been greatly influential to both my life and my work. BIC was fundamental in my decision to apply for a Fulbright, as I was excited for the opportunity to learn about an unfamiliar culture through the lens of what I learned in BIC.

BIC made me more well-rounded and intellectually curious by providing me with a better
understanding of history and culture. Through the program, I was introduced to different
perspectives and became more aware of cultural nuances. I have a greater appreciation for
works of art and literature and their historical contexts. In Taiwan, Journey to the West is
popular and I have seen it depicted in plays and traditional operas. I recognized the story
through being first introduced to it in a BIC World Cultures class.

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

As a Biology major, I really appreciated the variety from my science classes that the BIC
provided me and how they were designed for discussion and exploration rather than
memorization. I enjoyed meeting BIC faculty members, and it was inspiring to see their
creativity, their passion for their disciplines, and their travels from around the world.

I have many positive memories from my time in BIC, from learning how to speak publicly
freshman year to learning about how the Bible relates to modern ethical issues senior year. My favorite memories from the BIC are the field trips, most notably to the Hindu temple and mosque. I was grateful to understand world religions and to learn about different beliefs, especially while living in Texas, where people may not usually be exposed to a variety of beliefs or accustomed to questioning their own.

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

The skills that BIC works to develop, like reasoning, critical thinking, writing well, and
appreciation and understanding of other cultures and people, have benefitted me in Taiwan and will continue to benefit me long after I return to America.

Because my life is not one unwavering line from my Biology degree to a career as a biologist, BIC contributed to my being academically well-rounded and well-informed. BIC made me an all-around well educated person by helping me discover deeper meaning, exposing me to different viewpoints, and teaching me to pay attention to detail.

For example, when I explore temples throughout Taiwan, I try to look further than admiration for their beauty. I pay more attention to the architecture, art, customs and rituals, depictions of animals and gods, and consider their importance to better grasp the cultural context in which I’m living and to learn about Taiwan’s people and history.

What are your goals for the future?

Personally, I hope to continue to travel and learn about other cultures and languages as much as I can. Professionally, I look forward to returning to America in the fall to attend Walla Walla University to earn my Master of Science in Biology and research octopus physiology for the next two years.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Take advantage of all of the opportunities that are provided to you by the BIC program. It is truly a unique, enriching environment and you’ll never again experience something exactly like it. BIC is designed for you to learn and grow- intellectually, personally, and professionally. You’re exposed to well-known texts that will shape your perspective, professors that are experts in their fields, and classmates that are also interested in learning in depth. Be sure to take it all in and get the most out of the program as you can. Try your best, do the readings, ask questions, make sure you understand the material. BIC is invested in making you a more informed, aware, and well-rounded person; after graduation you won’t necessarily be in the same type of environment.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’m thankful for my education at Baylor and for the opportunity to participate in the BIC, and I wish the best for its continued success.

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Alumni Interviews — Ruddy Tchao (’16)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Ruddy Tchao (’16). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I graduated in 2016. While at Baylor, I majored in International Studies and minored in Business Administration.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

Upon graduating, I accepted a full time offer with JPMorgan Chase Bank. I started in 2016 as a Compliance Analyst working with a team that specializes in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. In 2017, I transferred to a new team and am now a Vice President- Onboarding Specialist assisting new government and not-for-profit clients with complex product implementations. The sales team wins the client’s business and passes the client over to me to help them transition their business to Chase. As painful as that can be, my job is to make that process easier for clients.

In 2018, I also got married to Mete Moomaw, a fellow Bic’er, and we welcomed a daughter, Zoey in January 2019. We currently live in Plano, TX.

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

I most enjoy bringing people together for a common cause. As the Onboarding Specialist, I act as the Project Manager during the onboarding process and I partner with sales, training, and the back office to ensure a smooth and successful transition. The projects that I work on can take anywhere from 3-12 months, so I get the opportunity to build deep and lasting relationships with both my internal partners and my clients.

I am most excited about new tech initiatives that are being implemented. In an effort to make the banking process easier for clients, the Bank is rolling out technology that will automate the account opening process for our business clients. This will shorten the onboarding process and minimize human error.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

My BIC education has allowed me to approach my job in a more holistic manner. The BIC’s emphasis on complete formation has given me the tools I need to understand and approach common problems from a new perspective. I actually attribute some of my success so far to the BIC. Two of my hiring managers have asked me extensively about my BIC experience and explained how they were seeking candidates with a diverse background who would bring new perspectives and insights.

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

My favorite memory would have to be meeting my now-wife. We met because I needed to borrow a book that she had used the previous semester and one of the BIC professors got us in contact with one another. From there, I sat next to her in Word Cultures II and annoyed her enough times that she agreed to give me a chance. Learning about the meaning of the word “myth” from Dr. Tatum is a close second. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will find out soon enough.

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

One of the best lessons that I learned from the BIC is that there is a way to disagree with someone and remain civil. I often run into disagreements at work when people believe that an initiative or project should be executed in different ways. As I watched the BIC professors do so effortlessly, I try to find commonality between the disagreeing points of view, ask follow up questions, and guide the working group to a common solution.

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to be an expat- representing a corporation in another country. In the longer term, I’d like to work in the public sector, as a diplomat or an ambassador. I am fascinated by the conversation that occurs when two countries meet and I would like to take part in that conversation.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

While I was interviewing for internships and full time positions, I often thought that my course of study, which was in the humanities sector, was a hindrance. I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to be a business major in order to work for a large corporation. I’ve since learned about how wrong that line of thinking was. Even among more senior leaders within the Company, I find literature, history, and fine art majors. I learned early on in my career that companies look for personality traits and critical thinking and writing skills more than a specific major. One of my managers even confirmed that the Company has training to assist with the job-specific knowledge, but that the aforementioned skills are priceless and cannot be learned in training. Instead of thinking about my course of study as a hindrance, I now think of it as cross training. As I was reading and discussing topics in the BIC, I was inadvertently being trained on leadership, integrity, and accountability- among other things.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would implore current BIC’ers to cherish the time they have now. In the BIC, we have the luxury of having highly skilled professors lead us in conversation with open-minded peers about topics that are very sensitive. It is hard to replicate such an environment outside of the BIC and I have yet to find one.

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Katie Welch (’03)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Katie Welch (’03). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

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

I graduated from Baylor in December 2003, but was in the BIC cohort that graduated in Spring of 2004. I had some credit from AP classes that allowed me to graduate a little early, but I stayed in Waco that final semester and commuted to DFW for graduate school just so I could spend a few more months with my friends. I majored in Spanish and took several linguistics courses as part of my major that awoke something in me that ultimately led me to a career in linguistics.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

I continued on with my love of languages and pursued a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington, graduating in 2009. I now teach linguistics courses to future bilingual and ESL teachers at UNT-Dallas as part of the Emerging Teacher Institute. My parents and only sibling are all Baylor alums who happened to meet their spouses on the Baylor campus, but I broke with family tradition and married outside the Baylor Line. My husband Casey is not only extremely supportive, loving, and just an all-around great guy, he’s also been a good sport as I’ve dragged him to homecoming year after year. We have two fantastic sons, Hunter (8) and Archer (5).

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

What I love most about my work is getting to be around curious and hard-working students. Every semester we embark on an intellectual journey together as we seek to answer some challenging question about language such as “Where is correct English spoken?” There are so many misconceptions about language that society collectively buys into without doing any empirical analysis, so I enjoy introducing students to the scientific study of language and facilitating “mythbusting” conversations. It’s also very rewarding to see students apply their new understanding of language into their chosen careers, be that future teachers becoming more aware of the challenges English languages learners face or future attorneys realizing the ways linguistic discrimination impacts the criminal justice system.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

Linguistics is a highly interdisciplinary field, and my time in the BIC gave me a solid foundation for this type of work. I am a linguist who is housed in a School of Education who teaches psycholinguistics courses but also regularly lectures on internet language, so that requires being able to span many disciplines simultaneously! Additionally, the concept of “the examined life” has been a guiding principal that not only informs my professional self, but also who I am as a follower of Christ. One of the best gifts the BIC offers its students is the freedom to ask questions and reflect on why we believe what we believe.

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

I have so many it’s hard to choose! One favorite was when Dr. Frieda Blackwell taught us the Christmas carol Brincan y Bailan as we talked about Christmas traditions in other countries as part of World Cultures. Another was when we did a semester-long study on a specific country as part of World Cultures V, and Dr. Lizbeth Souza-Fuertes made Brazil come alive for our class. However, my all-time favorite memory happened in the first week of classes Freshman year when we were asked to read Stephen Pinker’s The Language Instinct. I’ll never forget sitting in the drawing room of Alexander Hall with a bunch of a wide-eyed BICers as we contemplated if it could possibly be true that almost every sentence uttered is a brand-new combination of words. (I now use this same reading with my own students!)

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

When I teach, I like to have my students read original sources, similar as we did in the BIC. I also encourage my students to interact with a text by annotating/asking questions/making comments on the page itself. I still remember being so shocked when Dr. Lenore Wright encouraged our Examined Life I class to physically mark up a text, since in high school writing in a book was completely taboo!

What are your goals for the future?

My kids are finally at the age where they can travel more easily, so one of my parenting goals is to introduce them to new cultures and languages so that they can better appreciate the beautifully diverse world we inhabit.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Engage with the community of scholars that surrounds you. The most cherished friendships of my life are with fellow BIC-ers who became lifelong friends. We have navigated the examined life together through not only 4 years at Baylor – but also through all the life stages since, which so far has included adulting, job seeking, singlehood, parenthood, triumphs, hardships, and everything in between.

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Forced Migration: One BICer’s Experience — Diana Castillo (’17)

As we announced in May, BIC has taken on a new project we are calling BIC Grand Challenge–Forced Migrations. As we begin to explore this new theme within BIC, we offer a personal reflection by Diana Castillo (’17). We hope you take the time to read this powerful article on one BIC alum’s personal experience with forced migration.

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It was a gift to be nurtured by the BIC faculty and staff as a student. BIC made me ask hard questions and go beyond surface answers. I love that now, as an Admissions Analyst in the BIC, I get to nurture others on their BIC journey.

Since working in the BIC, I have looked back to examine my life and realized I am privileged. Dad was an enthusiastic business owner. Mom was an intelligent public administrator. My parents were hardworking- middle class Colombians. They met and got married during Colombia’s recession (1980s-1990s) and learned to endure the political turmoil of the drug wars, until something changed in their lives- my sister and I were born. The idea of creating a family and a place of safety became a struggle every year.

Around the 90s, the mafia infiltrated local business and laundered money. Opposing the mafia often meant death. As dad saw other business owners tortured and succumb to the control of the mafia, he rebelled by letting his business crash. Dad’s business perished alongside his hope for Colombia. Mom was holding on tight to her job, yet over time fear of having her family harmed intensified. Colombia was becoming a hostile place to live. After years of trying to stay, the opportunity for asylum in the U.S. became the only option. Mom and dad struggled when leaving their family, food, culture, and home behind for the sake of finding something better for their family. The day arrived when we hugged our old life goodbye and migrated to Florida.

Coming to the States was one of the hardest decisions. None of us had adequate English training since we never imagined moving. When arriving, the language barrier limited job opportunities, and we experienced bullying on both micro and macro levels. Over time, my sister and I learned English, becoming our parents’ translators and teachers. Additionally, we understood all the cruel things said about immigrants. Another obstacle was validating the Colombian degrees earned. Unless you had the money and time to go through the strenuous process, you were stuck. Some people evade moving between states in the US to avoid getting re-certified, yet alone go to a different country to do that. The accreditation issue left them with less desired jobs. Imagine having to leave your intellectually fulfilling job for a strenuous and often humiliating job that barely allowed you to pay the bills.

The initial road to “the American dream” was bumpy for my parents, yet time healed their wounds, made them patient, and opened doors for understanding. Despite my parents’ struggles, I honestly did not experience the same hardships they did. Mom and dad tried to make home, whether it was a small room, a run-down apartment, or a two-story house, feel like a safe haven. My sister and I grew up spoiled and loved. We learned to love our neighbors no matter who they were. We experienced a rich childhood blended with Colombian culture and U.S. tradition.

After many years of working strenuous jobs, Mom became a librarian where she taught elementary students the importance of education. Dad sacrificed his dream of owning a business in the US, instead working tirelessly as a custodian to provide stability. Even then, he cleaned someone else’s business with honor. My parents make me proud even if the world sees them differently. Although they worked as cooks, custodians, landscapers, etc., they used their creative and intellectual skills to make the US a better place. Today when I see cooks, custodians, or landscapers at Baylor, I often see my parents. I see the hardworking, yet joyful way they serve. My parents passed away before they got to see all the fruits of their labor, but, as the children of immigrants often do, my sister and I are now reaping the benefits arising from the grace of God and their hard work.

Despite the challenges, there have been many privileges. I was the first in my family to attend college and graduate in the US. My sister and I became U.S. citizens and later traveled back to Colombia when seeing its recent progress. We saw family we had not seen in 15 years since leaving. Senior year, I was given a scholarship to study abroad in France, which broadened my world view. After graduating with a degree in International Studies and French, I got the privilege of becoming BIC’s Admissions Analyst. Since then, my sister has moved in with me and hopes to graduate from Baylor. Furthermore, we took a leap of faith and bought a house to start an intentional community we like to call the Fortress.

Although these are highlights of my story, there are many immigrants with different stories who have not experienced the same privileges. For example, the fact we flew into Florida and did not have to navigate a harsh terrain, the fact that college is part of my story, and the fact that I enjoy my job says something. I get to live out these privileges because of the many teachers, mentors, and individuals who fought for me and my family when they saw us as more than just immigrants.

I hope that insight into my life and experiences gives you an opportunity to see immigrants in a new light. Whether they are refugees from neighboring or remote countries, most immigrants are not coming to become criminals or steal jobs. They are coming with hopes to live out a better life alongside their family and to work hard to make their new home a bright place to live. All they need is equity.

Recently, BIC began the journey of better understanding the complexities of forced migration. Because BIC allows us to look through an interconnected lens, this theme is being explored in all the class sequences. How is forced migration impacting the world of cultures, the world of rhetoric, the social world we are in, and the natural world? How is forced migration not just the issue of another, but a topic that makes you examine your own life?

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