Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

Month: October 2015

A Graduate Student Walks into McLane Stadium

Football is big in Texas. They make movies and shows about it. Football is really big at Baylor. They have been a top-ten competitor for the last half-decade and just built a new $266 million dollar stadium. But I knew all of that coming into graduate school and was ready to become part of the end-of-the-week pandemonium… or so I thought.

I have already been exposed to the world of collegiate football. My undergraduate school had a football, but they were historically awful. They were so awful that the team actually disbanded for a couple of decades and have been trying to build since its resurrection. Still, to say the least, the football culture was not ideal, and neither were the games. For starters, just getting to the stadium was a struggle. Students had to either take a bus that took the highway during Saturday afternoon traffic, of, if they felt brave, the subway down Broad Street. And with the campus being located in the middle of a city, there is little hope for a new, closer stadium in the future. Once we made it to the three-quarters-empty Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, the talent on the field just didn’t match the effort it took to watch, much like it does there on Sundays.

A Baylor football game, on the other hand, is a spectacle. The whole town descends onto the university with their cornhole games and slow cookers. The walk to the new home of Baylor Football, McLane Stadium, is an easy and beautiful one that weaves through the tailgaters and crosses over the Brazos River. The atmosphere is made even more electric by the number of students who are passionate about their Bears. Walking into McLane Stadium with them for the first time was a shock. The building is HUGE! I understand why the tours for prospective undergrads make this place their last stop. It’s a selling point for student, athletes, and Wacoans, alike.

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So, there I was: second row back with my discounted BU football shirt from last season (so people would think that I’ve done this before) and my bear claw raised into the air. I thought that I was ready, but hearing the noise and seeing the passion explode around me, I realized that I still have a long way to go. Most of these students grew up in this state surrounded by the culture of watching football Thursday-Sunday and talking about it the rest of the week. They may have even come to Baylor because of the recent emergence of the football team; I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

They yell before, during, and after each play. They talk about the TCU game last year. And then talk about it some more. They wave their rally towels with “61-58” printed on them. And then talk about the TCU game some more after that. In fact, that game is so beloved ‘round these parts that it is played around the clock at H-E-B (not kidding). It was last year, but as my friend told me as I frequently reminded her of that fact, “You just don’t understand.” And she’s right, I don’t. Like many of my fellow graduate cohort, I’m new to this school and to this strong tradition. We don’t get special treatment like the freshmen and are just thrown into the fire with fans who have been loving this team for years.

The fans make it much easier, though. They are so nice and understanding and are willing to help out us newcomers. They teach you chants and keep you motivated when your arm tires and your body slowly withers in the afternoon sun. They celebrate with you and help you learn the player’s names, both past and present. They remind you of the team’s rivals (essentially every school in Texas) and its recent success. They help you become part of the culture. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Oh, and did I mention that the tickets are free for all students? Sic’em Bears!

UPDATE:

Baylor: ranked #2 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history (next game: 11/5 at Kansas State)

Temple (my undergrad school who decided to get it together after I left): ranked #21, the first time the program has been ranked since 1979 (next game: 10/31 at home vs #9 Notre Dame)

By Matthew Doyen

Talking to Bears: Jillian Storey

Talking with Bears is a series where we take a few minutes each week to talk to some of the current graduate students at Baylor and discuss their experience at the university and in Waco.

 

Name: Jillian Storey

Hometown: Clarksville, TN

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in Music Performance, summa cum laude, 2012

Undergraduate University: Tennessee Technological University

Graduate Degree: M.A. in Music Performance

Expected Year of Graduation: May 2016

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What was the biggest factor that persuaded you to attend Baylor for graduate school?

I was truly inspired by my faculty mentor, Dr. Francesca Arnone and wanted to come study flute with her. In my field it’s so personalized that it normally comes down to that one person you want to trust to teach you. I also think that the campus is beautiful and was offered a full teaching assistantship.

What is one thing that has surprised you about graduate school at Baylor?

How relatively small the graduate school is, at least within the music department. We are like a little family.

If you had to describe your graduate school experience (so far) in three words, what would they be?

Busy, Challenging, Rewarding.

If you were Dean Lyon for a day, what would be two things that you would change?

I think that a lot of the professional development seminars that the graduate school offers is fantastic, but not always applicable to the field of music or fine arts in general. I would offer more broad range seminars, like entrepreneurship (since often musicians are self-employed), things outside of giving the perfect financial presentation or perfecting the cover letter, etc. I’ve also heard from a few other graduate students that we would like a hooding ceremony, even for master’s candidates.

What activities are you involved with outside of the classroom?

I read and love spending time outside. I enjoy visiting museums, especially art museums, and baking.

What does your average Saturday look like?

I wake up, possibly clean and tidy my apartment (because anyone in grad school knows that this isn’t always your first or second priority during the week), enjoy a cup of coffee, practice for a hit, and the rest depends on my part time job. I work at Crickets and often work on Saturdays, but if I don’t, it’s more time for me to practice and have a bit of down time with my boyfriend and friends.

How has the city of Waco impacted your time during graduate school?

I love the culture! The size is similar to my hometown, but is much more eclectic. I love that we have our own art and music festival in the fall and that there’s a river that runs right through the heart. I don’t find myself often having to drive long distances for what I need, which has saved a lot of time and energy.

What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?

I love Clay Pot! Asian food of any type- Chinese, Thai, Indian, has a special place in my heart.

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If you could give one piece of advice to prospective graduate students that are interested in Baylor, what would it be?

Prepare yourself for a whirlwind because there is so much to do between school and everything you can enjoy around you! Never lose sight of why you wanted a higher degree and trust that there are ALWAYS people here to help you with whatever you need.

Compiled by Matthew Doyen

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