In Their Own Words

Today we have the great privilege of hearing from Susan Luke, BA ’66, as she shares her journey following her time at Baylor.  Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!

What led you to consider pursuing your current field of work?


  • I have always been interested in working with people and to making a difference in whatever way I can.  I started my career as a teacher, moved to the credit union movement/industry which is based on “people helping people”, and finally morphed into an entrepreneur/ conference-convention speaker/trainer/consultant.


  • Having my own business has afforded me the opportunity to work around the world with a variety of clients and colleagues, across industry lines, and each step in the evolution of building my reputation and business has been part of my original focus – working with people and making a difference.



What is your educational background?


  • I majored in Social Science (History, Political Science, Economics) and had a double minor in English and Secondary Education.  (Baylor 1966)


  • Over the years I have accumulated 40+ post-graduate hours in a variety of subjects from anthropology to linguistics to education. (San Diego State University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Pacific University, University of Hawaii 1967-1981)


  • Additionally I have participated in industry specific educational programs and have been certified as a Strategic Planner, Credit Union Development Educator in the USA (CUDE), Australia (DUDE), EU (DEEU) and Internationally (I-CUDE), Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).




What do you feel has best prepared your for your work?


  • Growing up as a ‘preacher’s kid’, I often pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in some folks’ minds.  However, I was always supported and encouraged by my parents, especially my mom (a career woman before it was fashionable), who believed I could do whatever I wanted to and be successful – hence my rather ‘checkered past’ and variety of careers.  During my journey I have learned by dong, accepted challenges, learned (most of the time) 🙂 from a variety of mistakes and missteps along the way, met incredible people around the planet who have contributed to my learning and professional development over the years.  The importance of establishing and maintaining professional relationships with colleagues via professional associations and activities has been key to growing my business over the years.


  • The Credit Union Development Education training and subsequent workshops and professional relationships continues to be key and very important to my business and my business philosophy.  Additionally, the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) and it’s Global Speakers Network (GSN), the National Speakers Association (USA), and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) all continue to play an important role in my continuing professional growth and development.  All of these organizations are built on sharing – information, lessons learned, best practices, opportunities!


Please take us through a typical day.


  • If only there was a typical day.  I travel most of the time and so every day is different.  When I have the opportunity to spend time in my (home) office it is generally spent ‘catching up’ on paperwork, administrivia of all varieties (phone calls, emails, bill paying, prep for the next trip, etc.), and of course, laundry and other domestic chores.  I am a one-woman shop and that works well for me as a professional.


  • When traveling, I generally try to fly early in the day (which often makes for very long days).  I never change my watch, I never check bags, I try to ‘hit the ground running’ and work appropriately in whatever time zone to which I travel.  This sometimes means an early bedtime that first night 🙂


  • When speaking or training, I arrive early (at the least the day before I’m to be ‘on stage smiling’ and I stay late whenever possible.  This is especially important when participating as a keynote speaker or concurrent session facilitator – being around for the entire conference/ convention provides additional opportunities for leaning and networking.  It doesn’t always work out to be able to do that, but I always try.


  • In terms of consulting and/or training with a corporate client, it actually depends on the travel arrangements, the rest of the itinerary, etc.  I currently am doing work with an international hotel chain.  My most recent trip (last week) was to work with 6 different properties in 4 different countries in Latin America, and 6 different cities – all in a 2 week time frame.  Spending 1 or 2 nights at each property and flying to the next stop made for a hectic schedule.  I am now home for 8 days before the next trip – international but only for 2 days – all in the same city and country.


  • It sounds glamorous to many of my family and friends.  The truth is that can be grueling with a variety of variables – weather, flight issues, last minute client requests/changes, etc.  If I didn’t love what I do, it wouldn’t be FUN.  I am also fortunate that my husband (also a speaker and consultant) and I have found ways to work and travel together, which is a bonus for traveling and our marriage!




What is your advice to students interested in pursuing this world of work?


  • Experience, experience, experience!!  I would not be as successful today, if I had not had early experiences as an educator and a professional in the financial services industry.  I value those early careers and the training and preparation I received through my formal education, as well as through other professional development opportunities, travel opportunities, and the amazing and diverse network of friends and colleagues I am privileged to know and learn from.


  • I have always worked.  I have one son.  I did not travel extensively until he was in the last year or two of high school – we all make choices (some of them are necessary; some of them work well).


  • I remember wanting to be successful from the outset – in many ways I was.  Cherish the journey, the ups, the downs, the learning, the growth.  My mom was right – you can do whatever you want – be open to the experience and understand that everything comes in time!


In Their Own Words

Today, for our alumni profile series, we are hearing from Rachel Goodlad, BA ’06.  Thank you Rachel for providing such valuable insight into post-college life!

1.  What led you to consider pursuing this field of work?

I was a Community Leader for two years while at Baylor. I had a few situations during those years that were life-changing for me. Some of them were extremely positive, like helping students find their passion in life and pursue it with a related major, or having a discussion about what the Bible says about interracial relationships or LGBT issues. Some of them were the kinds of incidents you hope you never have to deal with, including an attempted rape off-campus, and suicidal thoughts by two of my residents. These were the moments that made me really think about the CL position, and how impactful it can be on myself and others. There were multiple conversations I can remember when students were scared to speak with others about personal issues, and sought me out first. I thought, “Who would they speak with if they didn’t have an invested CL?” I used this thought to be even more intentional in my interactions with students at Baylor and other institutions.


As I became more invested, I also had the opportunity to spend more time with professional staff members at Baylor, including Campus Living & Learning administrators and the VP of Student Life, Dub Oliver. One of these relationships in particular I carry with me to this day, and is responsible for getting me in the door for one of the positions I accepted after graduation. I remember having lunch with Dr. Oliver and him asking me if I had considered staying in student affairs after graduation. I wanted the opportunity to impact other students, and started looking into programs and open positions at other institutions. This was a hard decision, as I was a Pre-Law track student with the intention of attending law school after graduation. The impact I saw staff members have at Baylor was undeniable and something I felt I had to pursue myself.


2.       What is your educational background?

I received my B.A. at Baylor in 2006 with a Journalism-Public Relations major and a minor in Political Science. I also received my Master’s in Higher Education with an emphasis in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. This Fall, I will begin law school at the University of Houston Law Center.


3.       What do you feel has best prepared your for your work?

Life is always the best preparation. Being open to relationships, and empathizing with others has also helped. There have been so many times that I wasn’t sure why I was going through a particular situation in my own life. I end up being thankful for that situation when I can teach others about my experiences or mistakes. Each university I have been part of has given me additional skills in planning, mentoring, counseling, and professionalism.


4.       Please take us through a typical day.

The great thing about Student Affairs, is that there is no such thing as a typical day. As an area coordinator, I spent most days hanging out with students, and letting the day take me wherever it might. I would walk around campus with students having conversations about their personal lives, academics, and future goals. At night, I would attend athletic events or other programs on campus with students. My job was to give students additional responsibilities, skills, and opportunities to help them reach those goals. I would plan events for the residents, and attend to incidents when necessary. I have recently transitioned to the administration side of Student Affairs at the University of Houston, and have less student contact as a result. My work now focuses on making processes more efficient for students, and increasing our customer service levels for all of our students, staff, and guests. My day starts with reviewing any incidents or issues that happened the night before at our 24-hour information desks, following up, and forming necessary training as issues arise. I spend most of my time now with full-time staff members to continually improve our services, and putting out fires on a daily basis. I still spend time with students when I can, but it usually comes in the form of solving problems rather than mentoring or having “life conversations” as I have in the past.


5.       What is your advice to students interested in pursuing this world of work?

Take full advantage of your time at Baylor! Be open to change and opportunities around you. I came to Baylor knowing I wanted to go to law school, and looking for preparation for that. Instead, I found life changing relationships with students and staff members that changed my life course. I found a career path I didn’t even know existed.  I became really close with my one of my faculty members in the Journalism department, Maxey Parrish. Through conversations with him, I was able to work with the Sports Information Department in Baylor Athletics. Through my relationships with that office, I was able to volunteer for the Big 12 Conference at Championship Events. Through that opportunity, I found out about the Master’s program that balanced both of my interests in college athletics administration and student affairs. None of this would’ve been possible without starting that relationship with Maxey. Many staff and faculty members are more than willing to spend time with you if you would only ask. Step outside your comfort zone; it just might change your life!