2016 Homecoming Speaker — Sabrina Neff

Each year the BIC invites an alum to return to campus for Homecoming and share a lecture with our students, faculty, and alumni. We are very excited that Sabrina Neff (’02), an attorney in Houston, Texas, will be our featured alumni speaker. We recently interviewed Ms. Neff to learn more about her journey since graduating from Baylor. We hope you enjoy the interview, and we hope you join us for her lecture on October 14 at 2:30 pm in Marrs McLean Science Building, room 101. Ms. Neff will speak on the topic “Bursting the Baylor Bubble: Creating a Climate of  Meaningful Self-Critique.”

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sabrinaneff0535bwsWhat year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts.  I was a Political Science major and Philosophy minor. In 2004, I earned a Master of Arts degree in Church-State Studies from Baylor.

What are you doing currently for work/career? What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am a consumer finance litigation attorney in Houston, Texas.  I love how my role challenges me to constantly learn.  My specific field has rapidly changed in the past five years and there are significant developments on at least a monthly basis that affect how my clients do business.  If you actually enjoy learning, become a lawyer.  The practice of law is also one big opportunity to utilize people skills.  I am outgoing and relish getting to know other people.  These skills are celebrated in my profession.  Most of all, I am a true believer in the importance of the rule of law.  Lawyers are who society entrusts as keepers of the law—both upholding the good laws and fighting to change the bad laws.

How has your BIC education influenced your life/career since leaving Baylor?

There are two important ways I was influenced by my BIC education.  First, BIC taught me to be skeptical of oversimplification.  Our BIC coursework required that we view the world for the multi-dimensional conglomerate that it is.  My BIC education made me unafraid to challenge oversimplification whenever I encounter it.  It also created an awareness of my own myopia; if I think a situation is clear-cut, then I probably need to ask for some perspective.

Second, BIC made me unafraid to admit that I’m not the smartest person in the room.  I should note that my fellow BIC students were ridiculously smart.  After faking it for a semester, I gradually learned that there was no shame in admitting when I didn’t know something.  I learned to use it as an opportunity to be taught, rather than be embarrassed.  In my current life, I try not to pass up similar opportunities in the hopes that some brave soul will enlighten me.  And people feel invested when they teach someone; it is one of the most effective ways to transform a detractor into your champion.

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

Without hesitation—Myers Briggs.  We took countless personality tests our first year, but I will never forget the Myers Briggs test and the way we met as an entire class to acknowledge, learn about, and celebrate each personality type.  BIC helped me to become comfortable with the way I am wired.  Years (and many retests) later, I am still decidedly an ENTJ.  Know thyself.

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

I have far too many great memories to count, but a standout memory would be my time on the BIC Leadership Council.  I was appointed to the inaugural Council in 1998 and served all four years.  Lenore Wright and Kirsten Escobar were the faculty advisors.  I’m certain we planned great events and organized service projects and designed t-shirts.  But mostly I just remember how much fun we all had.  We could not have asked for better advisors than Lenore Wright and Kirsten Escobar—each are great scholars in their own regard and also completely relatable.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Take yourselves less seriously.

Make a few friends outside of BIC.

And sophomore year, when you think you’re able to slack off on reading, don’t do it.  You will regret it.  BIG TIME.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Selectively reread your BIC books again after college.  I reread Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson, while stuck for 14 hours in hurricane evacuation traffic.  It absolutely revolutionized the way I think about words and language.  I did not really process the message of that book as a freshman.  It turned my world upside down as a law student.  Much as the literature you read in high school will speak to you differently as an adult, open yourself to the possibility that the BIC reading list has treasures yet undiscovered.

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