2021 Homecoming Speaker — Dr. James Saucedo (’03)

Each year the BIC invites one of our outstanding alumni to return for Homecoming and share a lecture with our students, faculty, and alumni. This year we are thrilled to welcome back Dr. James Saucedo (’03), an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital and a member of the BIC Alumni Advisory Board, as our distinguished guest. We recently interviewed Dr. Saucedo to learn more about his journey since graduating from Baylor. We hope you enjoy the interview, and we hope you will join us for the BIC Homecoming Lecture on Friday, October 15 at 2:30 pm in Marrs McLean Science, room 101. Dr. Saucedo will speak on the topic “Living the Examined Life at Baylor and Beyond.” Learn more.

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

I graduated in 2003 with a BA degree and a major in University Scholars with BIC and Pre-med.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

After Baylor, I attended Baylor College of Medicine; somewhere along the way, I forgot why I wanted to be a doctor and really struggled to stay motivated. Some classmates/friends of mine had enrolled at Rice as part of the MD/MBA track and encouraged me to check it out. After watching Motorcycle Diaries (I can explain the inspiration another time), I decided to apply. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! I found a new perspective, made new friends and was re-energized for a career in medicine. I went on to train as an Orthopedic Surgeon at Northwestern in Chicago and then did a fellowship in Hand, Wrist and Microvascular Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. I practiced in San Antonio before moving back to the Houston area where I practice now with Houston Methodist.

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

I think I see the world differently, with more compassion and understanding. The BIC taught me to try to see through other peoples’ eyes before making conclusions and not to judge too quickly. Even if I am caught up in the passion of a moment, I feel that BIC taught me to take that proverbial breath, step back and reassess. In terms of work, I feel that I am much better able to connect with patients, to read between the lines when a patient is carrying more than they may at first communicate. Whether it is connecting concretely on a shared love for The Brothers Karamazov or a general interest in their story, the BIC taught me to love and appreciate others.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

Too many to list! Some of my best friends to this day were BIC classmates. A few specific moments that come to mind: “samsara” (Dr. Bennett’s grand presentation); the poverty simulation; Dr. Tatum’s introduction to our section on Islam and Arab culture; the big group-small group setup; the study groups; etc. I can still remember a lot of my classmates and cherish those conversations and small group discussions, too.

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

This is a hard one because there are many moments and quotes that pop up with this question, so I’ll share the first one I remember as a freshman. “Truth, if it is truth, has no fear of being found false.” This gave me the freedom to ask questions. It helped me not to feel guilty as I explored and examined my faith. It also gave me a deeper respect for Truth and the pursuit of it.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Enjoy it. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up or of what others will think. Be honest, authentic and open-minded. Join a study group. This isn’t fight club – it’s okay to talk about these things outside of class. Some of our best insights were discovered outside the classroom.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

In a way, the BIC spoiled me. I don’t know if people still discuss the Baylor Bubble as a phenomenon to recognize and resist (not sure if that’s the right word), but looking back, I think we were also in a BIC Bubble where ideas could be shared openly, even fearlessly, and we accepted one another as worthy and beautiful, even if we disagreed. While we did not come out having the same ideas and agreeing all the time, we could generally find common ground and respect each other’s differences. Unfortunately, I don’t know that everyone has had access to that environment growing up or even in their educational journeys. Meeting folks that may not be as open-minded has been a little bit eye-opening for me and at times, admittedly disappointing and frustrating. But it has also helped me to identify my own biases, which as painful as that can be, is good. It has been challenging, but what has helped me is to step back and remember that we all have our stories and that while it’s nice to have that open-mindedness and respect reciprocated, it doesn’t have to be. Reciprocity is not a prerequisite for kindness.

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Alumni Interviews — Andrew Salinas (’16)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year 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 Andrew Salinas (’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 with a major in History and a minor in Rhetoric and Argumentation.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

Immediately after graduation I began working as a congressional intern with my local Representative in Houston, TX. In addition to acting as a case worker for constituent issues in the district, I also attended many community events throughout the City on the Representative’s behalf and occasionally as an aide when they attended the event itself. Simultaneously, I began working with a local educational non-profit as a Community Engagement Manager through the Americorps program. The non-profit served Houston’s at-risk youth and operated a mentorship program for first generation college students.

After 8 months in Houston I began law school at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, VA. In law school I actively competed in and coached teams for national moot court competitions. During my second year I was a student attorney for the Immigrant Rights Clinic, where a fellow student attorney and I litigated and won asylum for a Central American domestic violence victim and her two daughters (learn more). We also had the chance to file legal briefs before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stateless Ethiopian client who had been fighting for legal status for over two decades.

During my first-year summer in Washington, D.C. I worked as a law clerk for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund where I had a hand in drafting legal arguments for various civil rights litigations throughout the country. At Ayuda, a non-profit based in the D.C.–Maryland–Virginia locale, I drafted various motions and legal memoranda in service to Central American clients seeking asylum here in the U.S.

For my second-year summer I was a law fellow at the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. There, in addition to drafting various motions on criminal cases, I served as a second seat assistant on a three week felony Assault in the Second-Degree trial that resulted in a conviction. Ultimately, I accepted a position as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, NY where I currently work and reside.

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

My BIC education has had a profound effect on my life. Having the opportunity to engage with so many facets of the humanities, literature, history, and philosophy engendered a deeper appreciation for our place in this era of history.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

Probably the time we went on the field trip to a mosque, synagogue, and a Japanese garden in Dallas. If I remember right, I almost missed the bus and had to change clothes and sprint from out of bed from Alexander to Moody Library in five minutes. Fun times!

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

That the unexamined life is not worth living. Maybe it is because that phrase is one of the first things I read in BIC that it comes so quickly and repeatedly to mind. What Socrates meant by that phrase is that a life spent not thinking about the capital “T” Truth and not questioning basic societal presumptions is wasted, because it is a life lacking in basic intellectual rigor that ultimately informs the soul. Personally, I would expand that to also mean that life should be spent doing things worth being examined by others. That doesn’t mean you should spend your time and energy clout-chasing or becoming the next big Tik-Tok star – though if it pays these student loans off quicker then more power to you. What I do mean by that is that you should be conscientious of what type of life you’re living. Even if the historians of the future forget our names when writing on our times, you should strive to live a life that would make your children and grandchildren proud of the type of person you are.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Enjoy your BIC education while you can. I know not everything you’re assigned to read or study will particularly interest you, but in the real world it is rare to find other people that have ever heard of the philosophers and histories that you learn in BIC, let alone those who would appreciate the richness of that knowledge and its implications.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I haven’t been back to Waco in years, but if Dichotomy is still open, make sure you patronize it as much as you can. From Washington, D.C. to San Francisco to New York City, in my opinion, Dichotomy still makes the best drinks of any place I’ve been to. Cheers.

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2021 Senior Banquet Speech– Dr. Eric Rust

Remarks to Graduating BIC Seniors, April 8, 2021- By Eric C. Rust

Thank you, Dr. Schultz, for the kind invitation to speak to our graduating BIC seniors today.  Students, you may remember me from your freshman year as that crazy history guy in World Cultures II who would begin every lecture with a picture essay on some weird place far away, let’s say on a lake in China with a bunch of pagodas in it, or on a monastery off the coast of France, on the islands Columbus ran into on his voyages in the Caribbean, or on Jewish synagogues and cemeteries from Hamburg to Mandalay.  I will return to the theme of travel in a bit.

But first and foremost, I congratulate you on your accomplishment, hoping it was much more than an endurance contest and instead a special Baylor experience only you as a group could have enjoyed and presumably will treasure for the balance of your lives.

I am presently in my 25th and last year of teaching on the World Cultures II faculty team before retiring soon from Baylor after 38 years as a Professor of History.  In looking back, I wish to thank not only you BIC students and the BIC staff, but also my faculty colleagues in World Cultures II, for a wonderful ride.  Dr. Larson will soon become the last still teaching founding member of our course since when we started it back in the mid 1990s, while others like Dr. McGlashan, Dr. Tatum and Dr. Wang climbed on board early to lend our course a continuity in terms of personnel and subject coverage–and above all in friendship and collegiality—that probably no other BIC course can rival.

The BIC was born as a revolutionary innovation at the same time that Baylor’s History Department, for instance, scrapped all its courses on Western Civilization and has taught World History in its place ever since, the first and for a long time the only university in Texas to do so.  We rejected the notion that only the West, the privileged Occident, was worthy of study and admiration.  Instead, we have for the past quarter century embraced the persuasion that the cultures of all of humanity deserve, indeed demand, as much understanding and examination as feasible on their own terms.

In pursuing these goals, the BIC relied in the beginning entirely on volunteer faculty like myself who would teach BIC courses while on loan from their home departments all over campus.  Only gradually would the BIC gain the standing to hire at least some faculty for the exclusive purpose of teaching in the BIC.  The Zoris are a fine example of this.

Allow me to lay out briefly the three considerations that attracted me to the BIC. They all had to do with the central letter in our logo, the “I” in BIC:

First, we understand the world and its affairs to be inherently Interdisciplinary and Integrated–to be examined with faculty and students from across all academic disciplines while addressing issues and experiences in all fields and forms of human knowledge and activities.

Second, the BIC is Intercultural and Multicultural.  We cover not just the West, but all of humanity past and present, not as we would wish it to be, but as we find it.

Third, the BIC is International and Transnational.  Our focus is global and we are proud of it.  We take issue with insularity, parochialism, and narrow nativism.  We are proud citizens of the world, no matter whether our passports are blue like most of yours, or maroon (as mine is), whether we were born in Texas or 10,000 km from here (as I was), or whether our DNA differs markedly from those around us.

For my sixth birthday, my parents gave me a present I have cherished more than any other in my life-–a big, round, colorful globe–turnable, shining from within, tilted at 23.3 degrees, as it should, and emphasizing physical features rather than political divisions.  I played with it and studied it and experimented with it endlessly.  I measured distances and great-circle angles with a string.  I could figure out the time zone in Timbuktu and the depth of the ocean off Tahiti.  The ice cover of Antarctica was immense then—quite different from today. The globe found a place of honor and prominence on my desk and I looked at it constantly when I did my homework for school.  So kindly make a note of this.  When you have children of your own, do for them on their sixth birthday what my parents did for my brothers and me, and as my wife and I have done for our children: get each of them a beautiful globe.  There would be no need for instructions.

And that brings me to my last topic: Travel.

At the beginning of his lovely story “Honolulu,” my favorite short-story teller of all times, W. Somerset Maugham, declares, “The wise man travels only in his imagination.” And in his earlier travelogue on Spain, he had concluded, “It is much better to read books of travel than to travel oneself; he really enjoys foreign lands who never goes abroad”–meaning, of course, that the reality one would encounter on the ground would be forever disappointing, as it could rarely match the splendor and purity and romance of what one had imagined it to be from afar.  Yet the strength of Maugham was also that sometimes he would not listen to his own advice.  He does, after all, go to Hawaii, and to a thousand other places besides, and there meets a Western traveler whose story, perhaps, he would never have listened to, or heard, if he had met the man in London or Paris or New York. On his 90th birthday—he had enjoyed Japan and Italy while in his 80s—Maugham confessed that perhaps his greatest wish now was to go back to the Orient from his fancy villa in France. “I have one desire left,” he wrote, with his powers failing, “which is to return to that lost village in the jungle I had encountered so long ago in the Far East.” In truth, as every reader of the man knows, he had never really left that place at all.

We in the BIC and especially in World Cultures II travel much in our imagination. Through our readings or crazy picture essays or visits to churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, museums, restaurants with and without belly dancers, theater performances and concerts, we seek to offer a glimpse and taste of that wider world out there.  But nothing can rival or replace the real thing.  We faculty of World Cultures II have been blessed with being able to travel to faraway places and cultures as a group for the past 25 years, about once every second or third year: twice to China; once each to Andalusia in Roman and Islamic Spain; to Reformation Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, and France; to Renaissance Italy; to Celtic, Visigoth and Christian Spain and Portugal; to what’s left of the Viking culture in Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland; and to the world of the Incas in Peru, including Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, and, of course, Machu Pichu. A scheduled trip recently to medieval France fell victim to the virus.  Baylor has been helpful in picking up some of the tab, but every dollar, euro, crown, yüan or sol that we spent out of our own pockets was a minor sacrifice to make compared to the rich experiences we carried home to our students and the treasured friendships we could form and deepen as colleagues.

Follow our lead!  You are young and energetic.  By the time I was your age, I had visited virtually every free country in Europe, had plowed the waters of the Baltic, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Eastern Atlantic while serving in the German Navy, and had been to South Africa, modern-day Namibia, and Angola.  Save up your money; don’t spend it frivolously or mindlessly!  Become a little like my parents who never spent their savings on a house of their own, even though they could have afforded one, and who never bought a car with more than 36 horsepower.  (I am told the average horsepower of student vehicles at Baylor is about 350.  One would suspect the possibility for some savings right there.)  My father, by the way, always paid cash for his cars and had the dealer remove the car radios as unnecessary and distracting ballast.  With all the money we saved our family would travel wide and far, summer after golden summer, usually for six or more weeks at a time!

Be imaginative!  For example, lend a global dimension to your honeymoon.  Instead of embarking on some brain-constricting cruise on the Love Boat or shaking hands with Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, begin your married life at the majestic Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada, Spain, or at the Bayerischer Hof on the island of Lindau in Lake Constance, or at a quaint hotel overlooking West Lake in Hangzhou in China, or at the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in Peru’s Andes.  You will be amazed to discover how breathtakingly magical such places are and yet amazingly affordable if you plan it right.

Yes, we will have to sit out the Corana crisis for a while longer, but remember, you can always start your journeys in your imagination before actually hitting the ground.  So, do get vaccinated, but not against the travel bug.

Bon Voyage!

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Alumni Interviews — Amanda Roark (’08)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year 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 Amanda Roark (’08). 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 2008 with a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in business administration.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

I am a senior analyst in the corporate communications division at Toyota, providing support and counsel to Lexus product communications, advertising and brand initiatives.

I began my marketing communications career at Great Wolf Resorts in Grapevine before taking a senior communications role at the Madison, Wisconsin headquarters. After this role, I moved back to Texas to work on media relations and brand strategy with the Allison+Partners Dallas office. Working with clients in B2B and B2C industries such as automotive, technology, public affairs and healthcare, I also completed my Accreditation in Public Relations with the national PRSA Accreditation board.

I am currently in the process of pursuing a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. I live in Denton with my husband, two children and dog, Molly.

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

It provided a good foundation for critical thinking used in the real world. I’ve also maintained relationships with people I met through the BIC program now that we have pursued various paths after undergrad.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

I enjoyed the field trips freshman year to the mosque and Hindu temple. The world religion courses helped with a foundation for understanding of those with different backgrounds and life experiences.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Focus on the big picture. It’s easy to get weighed down by a major assignment or Plato’s cave. Remember to bring it back to current events and other big ideas to build on the connections. The combined courses in BIC help to provide a solid foundation for any career you choose.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Build the relationships with those around you, and be open to different careers and industry changes once you graduate. Best of luck this semester!

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Stephanie Guarino (’07)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year 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. Stephanie Guarino (’07). 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 2007 with a BA in University Scholars with concentrations in
Neuroscience and Art History.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

I was part of the Baylor-Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) program, so after graduation I attended medical school at BCM then moved to Delaware for a residency in Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (after getting married 2 days before graduation) and a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. I finished fellowship 2.5 years ago and currently split my time between running the Adolescent/Young Adult Oncology Program and the Adult Sickle Cell Disease Program in Delaware.

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

Although I was already accepted to medical school when I came to Baylor, my participation in the BIC has truly made me a better physician. The focus on primary texts, critical thinking and observation, and the rigorous writing and speaking, gave me communication tools that I didn’t learn anywhere else. Plus, I made some of my best friends in the BIC. It also helped me early on to hone my focus on health care disparities, which informs much of my research today.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

I particularly enjoyed the field trips and the senior banquet.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

No matter what you think you want to do, you will always be more successful if you can communicate. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or mentorship from people who are doing what you want to be doing.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Enjoy this time to read and write and think while you can–there is plenty of time for working after college.

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Alumni Interviews — Raymond Panneton (’10)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year 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 Raymond Panneton (’10). 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 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Church-State Studies. When I started Baylor in 2006, my original focus was pre-med; however, first semester chemistry did not agree with me, and I had to pivot my focus. It was during this time that I started to focus on law school. At this time, there was no “pre-law” designation, so it required a lot of self-study on developing a path forward.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

Since graduating from Baylor, my career has taken some pretty interesting twists-and-turns. I cannot speak to other career paths, but early in my career, I was told my a more senior attorney that the legal career path is not linear. Indeed, it is more like a lattice. A lattice has many bends and forks in the road that must be navigated to propel yourself forward. This has proven true for me.

During my first year in law school, I started as a law clerk for a plaintiff’s firm, practicing in the area of medical malpractice, pharmaceutical, and medical device litigation. Upon passing the bar in 2013, I was hired on at this firm as an attorney and practiced there until 2016. There is a certain fear in practicing medical malpractice that the Texas legislature could enact a change in the law which could effectively shutter your practice. This was the driving force behind my move in 2016—the need to diversify.

In 2016, I joined the litigation section of a commercial/business litigation firm in Houston. This was a complete change from my previous experience; however, the base skills translated. In this new role, I represented business owners in all aspects of their business, including entity formation, contract disputes, litigation, arbitration, and partnership disputes. Unlike medical malpractice, where there are certain aspects of a case which remain the same, such as the applicable area of medicine, each business dispute is unique.

In late 2019, an opportunity presented itself which I could not turn down. I was offered a position with a firm to be its managing partner, overseeing all day-to-day operations of the firm. As a relatively young attorney, this was an exciting and new challenge which I was happy to take-on. I accepted this position in November 2019, and am currently the Managing Partner of the Ted Smith Law Group, PLLC in Harker Heights, Texas. Our firm is a boutique litigation firm, focusing on business litigation, personal injury litigation, family law, estate planning and probate, and Social Security Disability benefits.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor? Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

As much as I hate to admit my BIC professors were right, BIC has profoundly affected my career. While I may not be citing the Ramayana on a daily basis, the core concept of World Cultures remains—go to the original text when possible. There is a tendency in our daily life, and especially in the practice of law, to rely on commentators to interpret certain information and data for us, and we never actually review the original text ourselves. BIC ingrains in your thinking to consider the commentators, but always rely on the original text.

There is no one-particular memory that stands out for me regarding my time in BIC. The friends I made and the experiences I had were so unique from other Baylor friends, that I feel that the whole BIC experience was a favorite memory.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Explore everything while you can. Once you get into your profession, your learning becomes hyper-focused on your career. In turn, your desire to learn about things outside of your practice area/career diminishes. The broad-base you get exposed to in BIC is so valuable in relating to the world and people around you—enjoy it!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Don’t worry if you’re not the best student. As many of my BIC professors may (or may not) remember, I was never at the top of the class. Frankly, I’d be surprised if I was in the top 50% of my class. That being said, I was never afraid to work hard. I knew that I was not the best/smartest student, but I also knew that nobody could outwork me. Don’t let poor grades or an inability to understand difficult concepts discourage you to the point of not trying. Giving up is easy, but success after perseverance is a high you will love chasing.

Since graduating from BIC (despite my less-than-stellar performance), I went onto law school. In law school, I made Dean’s list 3 out of the 6 semesters. After graduating, I passed the bar on the first attempt. Since becoming licensed, I have been published in national journals, been interviewed for NPR on multiple occasions, obtained one of Texas’ top jury verdicts in 2016, been named one of Houston’s Top Attorneys multiple years straight, serve as the Marketing and Communications Director for the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, and served as the Chair of the American Bar Association Medicine and Law Committee. I do not tell you these things to brag, but to remind you that past failures, and to some degree past success, does not define your future. You owe it to yourself to keep fighting.

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Note from the Director — Fall 2020

Greetings extended BIC family,

I always look forward to writing these “Notes from the Director.” They give me the opportunity to think of all the wonderful BIC students I have had over the years and imagine that I am speaking directly to each of you. I guess that would actually be possible in the World of Zoom.

This semester, I am teaching the BIC Yoga and Philosophy Capstone course. In addition to reading the Bhagavad Gita, we are reading Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a classic text about the philosophical background of yoga postures, asanas in Sanskrit. Patanjali defines yoga as the practice of stilling the fluctuations of the mind. He goes on to say that when that happens, “we come to dwell in our own true splendor.” I am always reminded of Psalm 46:10 when I read that passage, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Later in the first chapter, Patanjali describes nine obstacles that we will encounter on the spiritual path: “These obstacles are disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance, and backsliding.”

I have been very struck by this verse, sutra in Sanskrit, during the COVID Pandemic. Everyone in the entire world is dealing with the first of the obstacles: disease. In a sense, we are all encountering a spiritual obstacle together and that places us on a spiritual path together. I find that a rather hopeful thought to hang onto in the midst of the great divisions and divisiveness of our contemporary landscape.

I also find hope in all the amazing work former BIC students are doing out there in the world. Please know you are why we do what we do and that we are very proud of you.


Anne-Marie Schultz

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2020 Homecoming Speaker — Krissy Guidi (’00)

Each year the BIC invites one of our outstanding alumni to return for Homecoming and share a lecture with our students, faculty, and alumni. This year we are thrilled to have Kristina “Krissy” Doerner Guidi (’00), a Baylor Regent and attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as our distinguished guest. We recently interviewed Ms. Guidi 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 Zoom lecture on October 16 at 2:45 pm. Ms. Guidi will speak on the topic “Living the Examined Life at Baylor and Beyond.” Learn more.

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

I graduated in 2000. I was a University Scholar and a pre-law student. I was and continue to be interested in law and government and took several political science classes.

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

After graduating from Baylor, I attended Harvard Law School. I joined a law firm after graduation and spent a little over twelve years practicing in Biglaw. My practice focused on securities enforcement and litigation matters. I transitioned to the government about five years ago and am currently an attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. I am married to my Baylor sweetheart, and we have three young boys. I am active in my local church and am enjoying serving as a Baylor Regent.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor? Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

My favorite BIC memories are from my World Cultures classes, particularly the classes taught by Dr. Tom Hanks. I gained confidence in expressing my opinions and having those opinions challenged, which prepared me for law school and my legal career.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

My advice would to be embrace your BIC community. You are on this journey together and are forming lifelong relationships.

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Faculty Updates- Fall 2020

Candi Cann: Hello everyone! I hope this finds you staying safe during these strange pandemic times. Last year found me busy with a research leave, which allowed me to attend a couple of conferences and give two invited lectures at Rutgers University and Columbia University. Maia went with me on the last two trips, and we got to check out Independence Hall, catch up with family, and see New York City in its Christmas splendor. Good thing too—since we haven’t travelled at all since the pandemic started in March. I have published a few articles on African American deathways, and most recently, I collaborated with about eighty other scholars in the field to put together this paper and website on Death, Grief and Funerals in the COVID era: https://www.covidpaper.org/. Additionally, I’m working on a couple of cool projects—one is a study with a cremation diamond company on grief attachment in material objects, and the other is developing some software with a Virtual Reality company to help people process loss. Meanwhile, Maia and Milo (our doodle) help keep me grounded, and I’m enjoying all the extra time we get to spend together. Stay safe, and know that you are in our prayers.

Paul Carron: Well it’s been a year! I coordinated a (once again!) revamped Social World I. We added a fair amount of moral and social psychology, and Nietzsche on Thucydides and Socrates. The students really get a kick out of Nietzsche’s merciless mockery of Socrates! In the spring I taught a special section of Social World II for pre-health students. Unfortunately, that was not fully realized as we went online for the second half of the semester. Meeting over Zoom wasn’t quite the same, but most of my students were diligent with their assignments and it was great that we could stay connected and continue to have class in the virtual world! The summer was especially busy, as I taught two summer courses for the first time (both online – also for the first time!). One of those summer courses was a brand-new philosophy course on isolation, alienation, and community. We examined the ways that technology has led to an increasingly fragmented and alienated form of life since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and what we can do to build community and live more authentic lives. I had seven rising high school seniors (hopefully future Bears!) and they handled the weighty material admirably. In the world of research, Dr. McDaniel and I had an article on teaching in the BIC published: “Fostering Inclusivity through Social Justice Education: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” and with a little luck I will have another article on Aristotle and moral habituation out by the end of the year. The next major project is a book on Kierkegaard’s social psychology. The biggest professional news of my year was receiving notification of tenure. I will now be in the BIC for many years to come! My children are back in school, and its hard to know who is more excited about that. Ellie just started middle school, and Bennett, Mikaela, and Nora are still in elementary school.

Mark Long: My wife Lisa finished her MBA in healthcare administration in December and is now on the Covid-impeded job market. I ran the virtual Austin American Statesman Capitol 10K in April, 40 years after running it the first time with 25,000 others.  This year, I was the sole finisher (but only entrant) in a course that began at Fountain Mall, went to Jacob’s Ladder in Cameron Park, and ended without the roar of crowd back at the starting line.  There was no crowd, actually, but our youngest granddaughter, Miss Pippa, was there to share in the moment.  The bib is that from the race 40 years ago when I was, ah, well, 40 years younger.  And thinner. I completed research on an article comparing the jihadist narrative with that of the Christchurch shooter, and I am now writing. We still build pyramids.  And can you believe it?  They actually pay me to teach and write and build pyramids with the most incredible people.

Chuck McDaniel: As with everyone else, COVID has impacted the McDaniel household in myriad ways this year. My wife Diane and I were scheduled to join the World Cultures II faculty and friends’ trip to France in May but, sadly, that event was cancelled. Dr. Tatum and others crafted a highly educational and undoubtedly enjoyable agenda and we are hopeful it can be rescheduled at some time in the future. For a family vacation, we attempted Plan B, which was a brief getaway to Ruidoso, New Mexico; however, the governor there declared a quarantine for all visitors a few days before we were to arrive, and that trip had to be cancelled as well. Thus, the “year without vacation” left a little more time for research on a book I am writing that looks at American conservatism and its possible response to what is being called the new “consumer” eugenics. The book will observe challenges to traditional understandings of the human person that are emerging in markets for human genetic services and will show how American conservatism, having granted substantial “moral” authority to market outcomes, is poorly positioned to defend traditional conceptions of the person. I hope to have a publisher secured by the end of 2020 and have the book in print (and/or pixels) by the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022.

Back on the home front, our youngest son Austin has taken a sabbatical from teaching in the public school system to get accredited in “wildland firefighting” and is working on a crew fighting the Dolan Fire in Big Sur, California. He’s also worked fires in Oregon and is actually stationed with his outfit in Eugene where, in those brief periods when he’s not working 12-14 hour shifts on a mountain somewhere, he lives a  largely homeless existence, using his 24-hour Anytime Fitness membership to escape detection by the local police (please don’t rat him out). As you can imagine, the work is both physically and emotionally demanding. The crews work 14 days straight for every 2 days off. As of yesterday, his crew was attempting to save a small mountain town in California that has been evacuated for several days already. They work tirelessly in building fire breaks and taking other preventive measures to save these places, and they only find out after moving on to escape the fire themselves whether they have been successful or not. He sends back pictures and videos regularly that cause a few heart palpitations for his parents, but we are very proud of what he is doing. Diane and I are keeping his dog, Rafa, while he’s away. Here’s a pic from many months ago of Rafa posing next to the firepit at our little “country place” in Aquilla, Texas. He’s much larger now but just as “cute,” though he prefers to be called “handsome.”

Ivo Novakovic: Dr. Novakovic continues to teach across multiple BIC courses throughout the year. He is currently teaching World Cultures I, World Cultures III, and Biblical Heritage. In the spring he also taught Social World II and World Cultures II.

Sam Perry: In the last year, my book Rhetoric, Race, and Religion on the Christian Right: Barack Obama and the War on Terror was released. An article on the news coverage of the killing of Eric Garner and a book chapter on the Charleston Church shooting were also published. This year I am starting a new book that builds on the examination of conspiracy theories in the previous book and continuing work on several article collaborations with folks. Dr. Walden and I are continuing to work with our graduate students in the BIC’s Graduate Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Rhetorical Studies. This year I am teaching World of Rhetoric, a graduate course in Communication, and will be team teaching a capstone in the Spring with Dr. Zori, on outlaws, rogues, and villains.

Mary, Louisa, and I are spending more time than ever with our dogs Seamus and Remy, as we continue to socially distance during the pandemic. Mary continues to write and bake amazing macarons for the business she started last year, Violette Bakery. We are ready to be able to travel again and go in search of great meals, art, music, and of Louisa’s favorite thing- dessert.

Anne-Marie Schultz: Even leaving aside the global pandemic,  the life of  Anne has been quite eventful of late.  Not long after the initial shelter in place orders, I found out that I received the designation of Master Teacher, the highest teaching honor at Baylor.  Here is a link to the press release.

I am particularly honored to join the ranks of other legendary BIC professors such as Robert Baird and Tom Hanks.  Not long after that,  my second book,  Plato’s Socrates on Socrates, came out with Lexington Press.

I am also thrilled to be a part of the edited collection,  Called to Teach. A couple years ago, the Academy for  Teaching and Learning  held a conference honoring its tenth year in existence.  As you may know,  Dr. Lenore Wright is the  Director of the Academy of  Teaching and Learning and she co-edited the volume along with  World I  BIC professor  Christopher Richmann.   Any graduate of Baylor would really enjoy reading this collection of essays about teaching at Baylor.  Many BIC current and former  professors are represented: myself,  Candi Cann,  Robert  Baird,  Tom Hanks, and   Andy Arterbury.  On a personal note,  we welcomed a third dog into our household. Our newest Rhodesian Ridgeback just turned five months old.  We named him Guthrie, after Woody Guthrie.  We call him the Plan B puppy because we would never have gotten him if we had done Baylor in Greece and Turkey as planned, but instead we were around when the liter arrived and he  joined the pack this summer.  He is a delight.  Dante and Milo  continue to thrive.  Milo, the official BIC comfort dog,  just turned twelve on September 11.  My Dad relocated to Waco after three years  living in Colorado with my sister and brother-in-law.  He lives right next door to my cabin in Cameron Park (The Lyceum — yes a Platonist lives in the Lyceum, the Academy was already rented out).   Anyway, it has been really great spending more time with him on the days that I am in Waco.  Be well. Stay safe, strong,  and exercise your civic responsibilities.

Lynn Tatum: Well what have I done over the last year or so?  Hmmm… Summer of 2019 was interesting.  I headed over to Oxford and taught a course on Henry VIII and the English Reformation at Christ Church College, Oxford. Christ Church was originally called Cardinal College and was founded by Cardinal Woolsey who played a key role in the divorce of Henry from Catherine of Aragon. It was wonderful eating at the high table with portraits of Woolsey and Henry looking over our shoulders. The classroom was just a few yards from where many of the important events of the English Reformation took place. Two former BIC’ers (my kids), joined me in England—Road Trip!!!. We rented a car, drove on the wrong side of the road down to Tintagel (the home of King Arthur [BIC Capstone]). We visited the Harry Potter studios where I taught Dobie the House Elf how to do a “Sic-em-Bears.”  We headed up to Scotland. Then over to Ireland by ferry. We rented another car and spent several weeks of trekking around Ireland and Northern Ireland—great food, great pubs, great scenery, great music. Fall 2019 was pretty normal.  Except I decided to have a mid-life crisis and take SCUBA lessons. I’m now a certified SCUBA diver.  That was fun.  If I’ve got a SCUBA license and Christmas holidays are coming up…..  Road Trip!!!  My fellow-diver and son met me for a couple of weeks in Cozumel, Mexico for a combination coral-reef-diving, visit-Mayan-pyramids, cenote-diving, eating-great-food, Christmas trek.  We split our time between some of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs, cave diving (cenotes), and climbing and visiting Mayan pyramids and cities at Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum. The New-World-Encounter material from World Cultures II came alive. Spring 2020— What’s there to say except COVID!  World Cultures II and Biblical Heritage went “online”. To make matters worse, Baylor shut down Tidwell for a multi-year restoration. And so, during a pandemic, I had to sneak up to my office of thirty-plus-years and pack it up and move out. I’m just now beginning to move into my new digs on the third floor of Morrison Hall—boxes of books everywhere. And one other tragedy:  the World Cultures II faculty had planned an-end-of-semester trip to France (Gothic architecture, Bayeux Tapestry, Mont St. Michel—remember Dr.-Rust’s-visual-poem). France had to be cancelled; and I’m still in mourning over that. Summer 2020: Did nothing but sat at home—sad! The only thing that preserved my sanity was a Biblical Heritage and a World Cultures V—Middle East Zoom class. And here’s the only positive, silver-lining aspect of COVID. Because the Middle East class was entirely by Zoom, about half-way through the course, I realized we could invite others to our course.  So our small WC V group “met” with the U.S. State Department’s top anti-ISIS operative (who had to miss one of our meetings because of in-coming mortar fire in Baghdad). We met with an Ambassador from Yemen; and we met with the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (a Baylor graduate). So WC V was a delight. BIC courses, BIC experiences, BIC students, and BIC connections are so absolutely enriching to my life. COVID is a pain, but BIC keeps me sane—sort of.

Sarah Walden: This is a hard update to write. Like so many of us, I’ve been sitting in my house every day since March, trying to scrape together time to work while doing my best to make sure everyone is okay when, let’s face it, most of us really are not okay. Some great things have happened this year: I received a research leave this fall to work on my second book, which studies maternal rhetoric on social media. I’ve been working on this project for awhile now, but when COVID hit the US and schools and businesses began to shut down last spring, my project changed dramatically, because the way mothers talked about their experiences on social media changed dramatically. I spend each day of my leave working to understand how mothers (and all parents/caregivers) are making sense of this event in light of the extreme changes to their daily routines of school, work, etc., and the effects these changes are having on women in particular: mentally, emotionally, physically, financially. I received a University Research Committee Grant last spring (Spring 2020) and an URSA Grant this year (2020-2021) to fund this project by allowing me to work with two excellent BIC undergraduate research assistants. I have been working closely with the Baylor Digital Scholarship Office and the Digital Humanities Initiative, and they have provided excellent support for my work. I was named a Baylor Fellow through the Academy of Teaching and Learning for the 2020-2021 academic year, and as a result I will be able to pilot some digital research projects in my spring BIC classes. I’m excited for the work I’m able to do and the potential to make a difference through my scholarship, but it also shows me daily what a toll the pandemic environment is taking on mothers, fathers, caregivers, and children, and the weight of that can feel overwhelming. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we have a responsibility to care for one another, and that social media can facilitate that. But that responsibility requires us to be far more reflective and intentional about how we use it, and how we understand the worlds it constructs for us.

Mike Whitenton: This fall marks a big shift for me as I transition to my new role as full time permanent BIC faculty. A dream come true for me and a family! I continue to teach across the World of Rhetoric and Examined Life sequences, including a capstone, “Life at the Intersections,” co-taught with Dr. Sarah Walden. I have also begun teaching a special interest section of Biblical Heritage & Contemporary Ethical Issues, focusing on interfaith engagement, that supports the newly minted Civic Interfaith Studies minor, housed in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. In that course, we explore biblical paradigms for working together intentionally with other faith groups on the basis of shared values, such as hospitality & service, as a means of addressing urgent needs, such as food insecurity & forced migration, while also strengthening our own religious identities. In terms of publications, my second book, Configuring Nicodemus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Characterization (Bloomsbury) came out last year and received a very positive review in the flagship review journal for my home discipline, Review of Biblical Literature. This book—which also just came out in paperback!—articulates a new way of thinking about ancient literary characters that integrates Hellenistic rhetoric and the cognitive sciences, focusing on the characterization of Nicodemus in John’s gospel as a test case. I am currently working on a series of articles building a framework for understanding narrative worldmaking in light of cognitive blending theory. The Whitenton family is doing well, despite the challenges of this difficult season. Last year, Rachel became a registered Music Together® teacher for Tiny Treble Makers. She’s had to take her music classes online and is doing incredible work pioneering best practices for teaching littles music and movement, from birth to age six. Our kiddos, Felicity & Reece, are now five and three, respectively. Felicity loves to draw, put on impromptu musicals, & ride her bike. Reece is curious about everything and loves taking stuff apart and putting it back together. He also loves making messes (and sometimes cleaning them up). Both of them have also been known to enjoy popping into my Zoom classes unannounced to wax eloquent about the True, the Good, & the Beautiful!

Jason Whitlark: The pandemic significantly cut down on travel this year. I was looking forward to giving two paper presentations in Australia at the international SBL meetings, but the conference was canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, my garage is now immaculately organized with the time at home. I am enjoying the Fall semester being back in the classroom and engaging with students, though at times the technological adaptations we have developed can be glitchy. Some of the most exciting news I have received recently was the announcement of a marriage engagement between two students who went with me on Baylor in Italy. I continue to write on the Letter to the Hebrews with several essays either at press, under review, or in the works. Hannah has returned to school and is loving being with her friends again, and Jennifer continues to oversee the elementary campuses at Rapoport Academy—no small task for anyone in primary school administration these days.

Lenore Wright: Greetings BIC Alumni! I hope you are well despite the social unrest and isolation that marks our collective life. Let me begin my update on the research front. COVID-19 put a serious wrinkle in this year’s conference plans. I rededicated anticipated travel time to reviewing submissions for Feminist Philosophy Quarterly and the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. Reading scholarly essays is a close approximation to hearing conference talks (minus the engaging dialogue), and I find reviewer work a deeply gratifying way to support active scholars. My personal scholarly energy resulted in the recent publication of a co-edited book (Called to Teach), the re-publication of a revised article (“Becoming a Wonder Woman”), and the commissioning of a forthcoming article. I am also entering the final stretch of a book project on pregnant subjectivity. In brief, I argue that in ways both subtle and obvious, pregnancy bears paradoxical meanings; it has negative and positive valances. But pregnant subjectivity—the codified understanding of being a wombed person—is stubbornly unchanged. Woman as womb is not a fixed, univocal idea, however. She emerges in my book through four archetypal figures and the performances of pregnancy they authorize: Mary & Womb as Sacred Space, Athena & Womb as Political Space, Venus & Womb as Erotic Space, and Barbie & Womb as Material Space. The book will appear in print in 2021. Stay tuned for publication details.

COVID-19 also disrupted class plans. I continue to teach World Cultures III and Philosophical Issues in Feminism regularly, two courses that challenge me in all the right ways. Both courses have integrated increasing amounts of non-Western texts over the years, and the opportunity to learn new, important material enables me to grow in perspective and appreciation for the rich diversity of our world. I welcome your book recommendations and guest appearances, a plus side of Zoom and Teams, so don’t be shy! You would be a sure sight for sore eyes. I continue to serve the University as Director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL). COVID-19 also altered my administrative work substantially. Since March, ATL has joined with other University units to support and prepare faculty for remote, online, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching. You won’t be surprised to know that BIC faculty are excelling in all modalities. BIC faculty also recognize the disruptions to students’ lives and educational experiences. They remain, true to the BIC way, compassionate and caring.

Finally, Henry and our children H.W. (14) and Carl Haze (6) are managing relatively well, all things considered. We have appreciated a slower pace of life during the pandemic, but the loss of freedom weighs heavily on us all.

Colleen Zori: Dr. Colleen Zori joined the BIC faculty as a Senior Lecturer in fall 2020. She coordinates and teaches in the BIC Natural World sequence, while also teaching in World Cultures II and in the Anthropology department.

Davide Zori: The academic year of 2018-2019 certainly had its ups and downs. I was granted tenure (promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor) in the BIC, which means that I get to keep my job teaching and researching in this great community for the foreseeable future. This stability means a great deal to my family; and with my wife, Colleen Zori, also now permanently teaching in the BIC, we feel truly at home here at Baylor and in Waco. After we had another extraordinary field season of archaeological discovery in Italy in the summer of 2019, I returned to Italy in the fall of 2019 to open a new museum exhibit in collaboration with the local town and the Italian heritage agency. The museum features the findings of our ongoing project’s excavation that Baylor students (and many BIC students!) have helped to uncover. We managed to send a Baylor delegation to the opening, including our Provost Nancy Brickhouse and our Vice Provost for Global Engagement, Jeff Hamilton. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to share our discoveries, the work of our students, and the Italian countryside with Baylor leadership. I feel that we are really building a meaningful partnership with the people of Barbarano Romano in research and preservation of their magnificent archaeological heritage. In the picture taken after the inauguration of the museum in Barbarano Romano, I am accepting an award on behalf of all of our project members from the President of Virgil Academy (Rome) in recognition of service to Italian cultural heritage protection. See more information about our project, the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project, on our website: www.sgarp.org.

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Alumni Updates- Fall 2020

Kristina “Krissy” Doerner Guidi (’00): Read our recent interview with Krissy for an update on her life and work. Krissy is a Baylor Regent and an attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She will be our distinguished guest for our 2020 BIC Alumni Homecoming Lecture.


Rob Sinclair (‘01): I am still living in Annapolis, MD with my wife Ann, four-year-old son Robbie, and one-year-old daughter Evie. I recently celebrated my 10 year anniversary with Anne Arundel County Police Communications where I work as a police dispatcher and 911 call taker (although the real celebration will come in 20 years when I retire). I hope everyone is staying safe and sane through the pandemic. Mask up, Black Lives Matter, and in the immortal words of Marshawn Lynch, take care of y’all’s chicken. One love.

Rachel Smith (’01): Read our recent interview with Rachel for an update on her life and work. Rachel practiced law at Baker Hostetler as an associate and then partner  for nearly 15 years. She left the firm in June 2019 to move with her husband, Michael, and two daughters, Olivia (11) and Claire (7) to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Roman Hamidan (‘02): BA Arts Anthropology – Baylor 2002, M.Ed.- instructional specialist – UTEP 2007. Current profession- Secondary Mathematics Active Learning Leader for El Paso ISD. Previous: 15 years as a math teacher

David Ocamb (‘03): This year we moved up to the Northern Virginia / Washington DC metropolitan area so my wife could take over as Chief Development Officer for the Armed Services YMCA. I continue to work at the same advertising agency as the Chief Research Officer. Our son is now one year old and is still somehow relatively low maintenance and relaxed (comes from his mom!). While we have had to cut back on all of our usual international travel, we do continue with some domestic travel and anxiously await the time we can return to exploring this world around us!

Elizabeth (McDaniel) Kemker (’04) will be celebrating 15 years of marriage this fall to Benjamin Boone Kemker, Jr, who works for International Paper and is a Captain in the Tennessee National Guard. She and her husband live in Collierville, TN, a suburb of Memphis, and have two children, son Liam (9) and daughter Meredith (6). Elizabeth will also be marking her 12-year anniversary with CACI, Inc. as a senior business analyst supporting the United States Navy MyNavy HR enterprise.

Caleb Gardner (’05): Read our recent interview with Caleb for an update on his life and work. Caleb has worked for nonprofits, startups, and professional firms like Edelman and Bain & Company. Some of his most meaningful years were spent running digital strategy for President Obama’s political advocacy group, OFA. A few years ago, he co-founded an innovation consulting firm, 18 Coffees.

Mimi Wiggins Perreault (‘05): I recently moved from teaching at Appalachian State University to East Tennessee State University  (Fall 2020), where I am now an Assistant Professor of Media and Communication. I still live in Boone NC and commute to Johnson City, TN for work. In the past year I have worked on several teaching and research projects, including some with current Baylor faculty. I am still doing research on crisis communication, disasters, journalism, and Public Relations and advising the regional publication Overlooked in Appalachia (overlookedinappalachia.org).

Ashley Turner Parker (‘05): Since graduating, Ashley has been living in the Dallas area building a career in brand marketing. She earned her MBA from SMU in 2012 and has held a few different marketing and advertising positions with various companies since graduating from Baylor in 2005. More recently, she was the Head of Brand Marketing for Travelocity, and then when her son was born she made the move to a small advertising agency where she runs the client services group and consults with small and large businesses on how to build effective and meaningful brands. She married Talley Parker, an attorney in Dallas (originally from northwest Arkansas) back in 2013. They have a 2.5 year old son named Henley Brooks Parker and are expecting a baby girl in November!

Jessica (Govers) Darrouzet (‘09): After earning my BA degree in Economics with minors in Math and Political Science from Baylor, I taught high school math at an inner city school in Dallas. In 2010, I married Peter Darrouzet in Dallas. I became a stay at home mom when our first son William was born in 2011. He is now 9 and I also have a  7 year old son, Oliver, a 5 year old little girl, Amelia, and a 3 year old son, Henry. Three of my children have autism so much of my time is spent helping them with therapy and operating my successful Etsy business. As a family we are very involved in Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts of America). My husband is an Eagle Scout and I earned my Gold Award in high school. I recently took the Wood Badge course, the premier leadership training course in Scouting and was the first in my course to earn my beads after completing 5 projects for the betterment of scouting totalling over 100 hours of service. I am also the Activities Chair for our scouting district in the DFW area and a Unit Commissioner. I love being able to give back to my community in this way and I love instilling the values of scouting in my kids and the kids in our community.

Alyssa (Brown) Brynsvold (’10) married Kyle Brynsvold in December 2019, and they currently reside in the DFW area. In May 2020, Alyssa graduated with her Masters in Theology (ThM) degree, with an emphasis in Bible Translation, from Dallas Theological Seminary. Alyssa now serves the children and families of the Bachman Lake community as the Director of Elementary School Literacy of a non-profit organization called Casa Del Lago.

Samantha (Rylander) Wallace (’10) is currently in the process of publishing her second book, a paranormal romance short story anthology titled The Supernatural Reasons Why I Love You. She is also busy editing the sequel to her original novel, The Heart of Everything. Both will be available under her pen name, Lynn Wallace, in print and digital forms through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other retailers – visit www.lynnwallaceauthor.com for more information! You can also connect with her (as Lynn Wallace) via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 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. Their son Luke turns two this fall, and they are now hoping for a second baby in the near future!

Steven Follis (’10) joined Amazon Web Services in August, where he leads business development activities for a portfolio of cloud services. In June, Steven and his wife Kimberly established the George Allen Haile Endowed Scholarship Fund for Truett Seminary in honor of his grandfather, a life-long Baptist minister in Louisiana. Steven and Kimberly reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Danielle Cooper (‘16): After her time at Baylor, Danielle attended the University of Texas School of Law, graduating in 2019. She passed the Texas Bar in 2019 and has been practicing employment law in-house since then. She lives in downtown Austin, TX and recently adopted an eight-year-old pup named Wilbur. If you have questions about going to law school or other career questions, she’s can be reached at danielledakotacooper@gmail.com.

Will Nations ( ‘16): I’ve been working from home to save Baylor ITS web services from COVID-19. There’s been tremendous effort put in, but it’s all paying off, and I can say I’m quite proud of the work that’s been done. Still, working from home has its own drawbacks. I’ve found that rescuing dogs during the pandemic helps replace tedious days at home with love, cuddles, and energy. Participating in virtual events with others is also a great way to connect with Christian communities. I recently attended and gave a talk at the Christian Game Developer Conference (Virtual) about a new cutting-edge game technology to great success. With the combination of Baylor’s C++ programming courses and BIC’s rhetoric skills, expressing my ideas to a group and bringing those ideas to life has never been easier. Now I co-author Godot Engine, software used by tens of thousands of people across the world.

Shannon McClenahan (‘17): After graduating from Baylor with a B.S. in Environmental Health Science, I spent 2 years as an ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.  Last November I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to join the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.  As an Environmental Health Officer for the USPHS, I work with an Alaska Native health corporation to provide a wide variety of environmental health services to Native communities in Interior Alaska.


Priyankaa Bhatia (’17): I am currently starting the second year of my PhD at UT Southwestern in Dallas in Cell and Molecular biology.  I am studying oocyte aging and why female eggs go “bad” in your 30’s! I use microscopic worms (C. elegans) for my research.  During the lockdown, a classmate and I decided to start a science podcast! We launched it very recently—it’s called “Incubation Time.

Alex Plott (‘17): After graduating in May 2017, Alex moved to Washington, D.C. and joined Deloitte to work as a consultant serving government and public sector clients. In late 2018, he became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Virginia and began volunteering as Board Member and Treasurer of the Humane Society of Loudoun County. Last November, Alex married Amanda Beere (BBA ‘19) at Luttrellstown Castle in Dublin, Ireland. In their free time, Alex and Amanda enjoy playing with their two adopted cats and reading.


Valeria Rivera (’17): Graduated from Baylor with a B.A. in Medical Humanities and a minor in Religion. Throughout her time in the BIC, Valeria served as a Peer Mentor and a Rhetoric Peer Instructor. Valeria is currently a 3L at The University of Tulsa College of Law, where she serves as a Staff Editor for the ABA SEER The Year in Review. Additionally, she is a traveling team member of her school’s National Trial Competition (NTC) team. She will be graduating with her Juris Doctor and a Healthcare Law Certificate in May 2021. Valeria plans on working as Legal Counsel for a private hospital after passing her Texas Bar Exam in July. She can be reached at val-rivera@outlook.com.

Austin Allaire (’18) recently completed a Master’s of International Management at Imperial College Business School in London. Austin has recently started as an Associate Consultant with Teneo, a CEO Advisory firm in London with operations around the world. He is excited to continue his adventure across the pond! Feel free to connect with Austin on LinkedIn with any leads or advice for job hunting amidst a financial crisis!



Hannah Byrd (’18) graduated from Baylor with a BA in International Studies and Arabic and Middle East Studies. After graduation, Hannah taught English in Tunis, Tunisia as a Middle East and North Africa Regional (MENAR) Fellow for the 2018-19 academic year. Hannah moved to Washington, D.C. in August 2019 to begin her current position as a Program Associate for the Middle East and North Africa at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). In this role, Hannah works on the Livelihoods Innovation through Food Entrepreneurship (LIFE) Project which supports refugees and host community members build successful food businesses and create sustainable livelihoods in Turkey.

Arianna Gomez Lopez (‘18): After graduating, I moved to Atlanta for my MPH in Global Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH). One of my most significant accomplishments while at Emory was chartering the university’s Catholic Graduate Student Association—an incredible community of faith that has made Atlanta my home. Currently, I am an ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where I am serving on the International Task Force for COVID-19’s Emergency Response Capacity Team (ERCT) in the role of Response Capacity Coordinator. Jumping into the humanitarian arena during this time has been an unbelievable learning opportunity (though at times it might feel like drinking from a firehose!). I am grateful for my time in the BIC. The emphasis it places on exploring and living out all of our passions, rather than hyper-focusing on separate academic disciplines, has uniquely prepared me for the multidisciplinary health diplomacy career I’m now pursuing.

Francesqa Kaggwa (‘18): I graduated in December of 2018 from the BIC. I moved to London, England to pursue a Masters in Human Rights and International Relations. I’m currently working on my dissertation and completing my degree in January of 2021. I’ve enjoyed London so much I’ve decided to stay another year and intern with an international law attorney and volunteer for the Amnesty International London office!


Reid A Pinkerton (‘18): Dear BIC family, while 2020 has been a year of crisis for a lot of people, I’ve been fortunate to see many pieces of my post-college life coming together rather harmoniously. I’m living in Fort Worth with my wife, Drue, and our 18 month old daughter, Willa. I’m working for Oncor Electric Delivery as a distribution operations Utility Designer Associate, and I’m leading a project to improve the map of the grid, which puts me on track to become certified as a Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt by spring 2021. At home, I’m blessed that my daughter is very healthy and happy to play in the backyard where I stay busy tending the garden. I’m eternally grateful for my experiences with the BIC (class of 2018) for equipping me with the tools I’ve needed to begin “living the examined life,” thereby discovering a glimpse of Saint Paul’s path to “contentment during both times of scarcity and times of abundance.” — “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)

Carolyn Robbins (‘18): After graduating with my BA in sociology and philosophy in 2018, I stayed at Baylor to pursue my MA in communication while working with Dr. Perry and Dr. Walden in the BIC. I spent the first year of my MA taking classes and working as a TA, and in my second year I wrote my thesis and taught a couple of sections of rhetoric in the BIC. Since graduating with my MA in May, I have moved to Maryland to pursue my PhD in communication with a focus on rhetoric and political culture at the University of Maryland. I am continuing to pursue anti-prison activism through academia and hope to have my first journal article published soon.

Heath McCabe (‘19): I am a year into working with Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer. I have just begun an online graduate program through Johns Hopkins University where I will be earning a Master’s of Electrical and Computer Engineering Degree. Best wishes to all the new BIC students just beginning their journey in college.

Veronica Meredith (’19) graduated with a BA in English and a minor in Film and Digital Media. Largely thanks to her experience working in Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor, she currently works as a library assistant and content editor for LexisNexis in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On breaks at the library, she works on her novel, Wintry Sea, and listens to way too many audiobooks.



Rachael M. Power (‘19): A Fall ’19 graduate from the BIC, I am following my passion for foreign policy work in Washington D.C. During my first post-grad summer, I traveled to CO and spent time backpacking through the Rockies, spending the beautiful summer months with family and friends. Afterwards, I began an internship with the US Senate, where I observed what Hill operations and mechanics looked like on the ground. Following my position’s conclusion in December, I began the job hunt for positions in the DC metroplex, specifically pursuing foreign policy research positions. Although I did not get the positions I most coveted, I signed on as an Executive Assistant at Convergence Media, where I follow the ins and outs of campaigning and polling. As I look at law-school and the USAF, I am taking one step at a time, wherever the Lord leads.

Gabbi Mucerino (‘20) graduated from Baylor in May 2020 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in History. During her final year at Baylor, Gabbi received the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs fellowship from the U.S. Department of State. This fall she will begin her graduate studies, as a Rangel Fellow, at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. There she will study Gender Analysis in International Affairs and International Security Studies. Gabbi will receive her appointment to the Foreign Service in the Summer of 2022 and begin training as a U.S. Diplomat. She looks forward to traveling the world representing the U.S. Government as well as Baylor University. Gabbi can be reached at gabbi.mucerino@gmail.com.

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