Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

Month: November 2015

Talking to Bears: John Miller

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: John Miller

Hometown: League City, TX

Undergraduate Degree: Math

Undergraduate University: University of Houston

Graduate Degree: Ph.D. in Mathematics

Expected Year of Graduation: 2017


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

I like the low student to faculty ratio, and I received a full scholarship.

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

The varying backgrounds of all of the students in the graduate school.

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

Engaging, entertaining, and intense.

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

I would give graduate student TORs unlimited meals in the campus dining halls, and I would start an interdepartmental ice cream social hour so that students from different departments could meet.

What activities are you involved with outside of the classroom?

I enjoy playing basketball, racquetball, and tennis. I like watching sports and hanging out with my friends, my cat, and my hedgehog.


What does your average Saturday look like?

I wake up and turn on football and then go to the Baylor football game if there is one. If there isn’t a game, I go to the Dancing Bear Pub and play board games with my friends. Sometimes I go to Bed Bath and Beyond and walk around (sometimes Academy). In the evening, I have dinner with my fiancée.

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

Some of Waco’s attractions have helped me get off campus, like Cameron Park and the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market.

What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?

Papa Rollos Pizza.

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

My advice would be to find a balance between you schoolwork and your social life so you don’t go crazy.

Compiled by Matthew Doyen

The Future of Cities


Let me ask you a question. Do you think cities are fostering community, or are they actually pushing people away from each other? Wait, but isn’t that the whole point of a city, to bring people together?

Of course it is. That’s exactly what Professor Philip Sheldrake expressed to graduate students in his lecture “The Spiritual City: Theology, Spirituality, and the Urban.” The Baylor Formation presented this discussion in the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

Professor Sheldrake shed light on the issue of cities and how they are becoming less well-made. They are fragmented because the “world is rapidly becoming urbanized.” This is due to the 21st century global movement from rural to urban. Since so many people are moving into cities, 1 person out of every 6 is a “slum-dweller”. This statistic will only continue to rise as more and more pile into the city atmosphere.

According to Professor Sheldrake, true cities engage with three things:

  1. Identity
  2. Relationships
  3. Stories

Cities need to “re-discover their own voice” and focus on these ideas. Currently, city priorities include recovery of memory, sustainability and living/neighborhoods. Unfortunately, spiritual dimensions of cities are rarely discussed.

What are cities for? That is the big question for the future. Leaning on scripture, Sheldrake points out what cities looked like in both the Old and New Testament and then goes on to elaborate on social virtues. Sheldrake adds that it is key for cities to be composed of different people. Virtues that he considers important are faithfulness, living in harmony and honoring individual needs. Closing this part of the lecture saying, “community is vital to flourishing.”

By Caroline Jerome

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The air is getting thinner and the morning breeze is being felt down to the bones. Holiday decorations are sprouting in the stores as wish-filled lists are being made. It happens every year, but always arrives with much surprise and a little angst. Andy Williams may have captured this atmosphere best when he so beautifully sang his popular tune, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Of course, I am referring to class registration week.


Luckily, my days of searching for classes and waking up before the sun’s morning rays are behind me. Admittedly, having every class that I wanted to register for available for the taking was one of the most luring aspects of graduate school. I could smile at the undergrad’s droopy eyes and frantic paces as I reminisced with some early-seasoned spiced apple cider. No pressures, no worrying, no early mornings… or so I thought. Tis the season, after all!

Most courses in my program are specifically either for first year or second year students (there are about ten students per year). There are also electives, but they rarely fill to their it’s-more-of-a-guideline capacity. So, everyone is usually happy. Next semester, however, there is a brand new course that is exciting students in both years. The problem is that the capacity limit is strict for this course because it entails several field trips and, simply put, our program’s van is not that big.

So, once again, I found myself setting the alarm clock for six in the morning and feeling the mounting pressure of having to be the quickest to copy and paste my course numbers into the system. When dealing with stressful situations, the best thing I have found is to combat it with humor – such is the reason why I have been forgoing my school work. Instead, I have been dreaming of an ideal world where grad students could create their own classes.

The result is the Ultimate Class Wish List:

1. Netflix Symposium

TR (10:00pm – 11:30pm)

This course is dedicated to the original shows created by and found on the online streaming sensation known as Netflix. Throughout the semester, we will re-watch current shows (Orange Is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) while discussing upcoming season premieres (A Series of Unfortunate Events). The final will be a comprehensive research project about the evolution of Jesse Katsopolis from Full House into Fuller House.

2. Fundamentals of Couponing

S (05:30pm – 08:00pm)

Overview to the often overlooked money-saver: coupons. In addition to the best places to find them, we will also discuss their history, their importance to the community, and their impact to the business of stores. Weekly guest speakers will include company owners and stay-at-home mothers. Students will be making their own couponing binders and a thesis on the topic of extreme couponing will decided this pass/fail course.

3. Introduction to Coffee Management

MWF (05:00am – 06:00am)

In this course, we will explore the different concoctions of the addictive, caffeinated beverage. Firsthand experience will be gained through trips to local cafes, Common Grounds and Dichotomy. We will answer questions like: Is latte art really necessary? Are pumpkin spiced lattes actually tasty (or have people just been brainwashed to think so)? Is frozen coffee more than a trend? And how does one successfully approach a perpetually angry barista?


4. Advanced Naptime

MTWRF (02:00pm – 03:30pm)

Pre-requisites: Naptime I and II

This advanced course will build upon the foundations presented in Naptime I and II. Throughout the semester, we will continue to study the importance of a better sleep when time is of the essence and how to achieve it in a public space. Advanced Naptime will satisfy the lab requirement as we will observe which position (back, stomach, side, fetal) is most commonly practiced while napping. As always, jammies and stuffed animals are required.

Back to work.

By Matthew Doyen

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