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: Amanda Sawyer
Hometown: Batavia (Chicago), IL
Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in University Scholars with concentrations in Chinese Language and History, magna cum laude, 2015
Undergraduate University: Baylor University
Graduate Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
Expected Year of Graduation: Spring 2017
What was the biggest factor that persuaded you to attend Baylor for graduate school?
One of the members of my thesis committee encouraged me to consider the program here after I discovered my love for public history. He had been incredibly influential in helping me develop and pursue my research interests. When the financial aid and assistantship offers came through, I was beyond excited to continue my education at Baylor.
What is one thing that has surprised you about graduate school at Baylor?
I’ve been amazed by the tight-knit community that has developed among students in my program.
If you had to describe your graduate school experience (so far) in three words, what would they be?
Challenging, enlightening, hectic.
If you were Dean Lyon for a day, what would be two things that you would change?
I’d be excited to see a greater variety in professional development opportunities for graduate students, since the majority are aimed at those pursuing a career in academia. I’d also appreciate the occasional lecture or workshop which occurred after 5 pm. Since I work or attend class from 9 am to 5 pm every day, I don’t get to participate in many of the activities offered by the graduate school.
What activities are you involved with outside of the classroom?
I study piano and sing in a choir. I own far too many books and am steadily working my way through all of them before I allow myself to return to Half Price Books. I go to yoga with some of my classmates and study Chinese when I have some free time outside of homework.
What does your average Saturday look like?
On a normal weekend in Waco, I sleep in for an extra hour, make coffee and pancakes, and usually watch a little television or a movie. By the afternoon, I’m back to reading and working on papers. If it isn’t too hot, I go for a run in the evening and typically eat out on Saturday nights. I usually try to get a good hour of piano practice in on Saturday evenings, as well.
How has the city of Waco impacted your time during graduate school?
I love Waco! I’ve been working on the Waco History App for about a year and a half now and I’ve developed a strong affinity for the city. A lot of my non-class time is spent researching its history and community. On a more personal level, I love Waco’s community festivals like Art on Elm, I enjoy hiking in Cameron Park, and I think that the suspension bridge and riverwalk at night might be one of my all-time favorite places.
What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?
My lunch breaks are usually short, so I’m incredibly excited that a Freddy’s just opened on the other side of the highway! But if I have more time, I love to eat at Lula Jane’s in East Waco.
If you could give one piece of advice to prospective graduate students that are interested in Baylor, what would it be?
Communicate personally with a professor you are interested in studying with. The conversations I had with faculty members of my program are what ultimately made my decision to come here.
Compiled by Matthew Doyen