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Category: Talking to Bears

Talking to Bears, Alumni Edition: Erin Dixon

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.

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Hometown: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate Degree:  B.S. in Nutritional Sciences

Undergraduate University:  Baylor University

Graduate Degree:  Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction

Graduate University: Baylor University

Year of Graduation:  August 2015

What was the biggest factor that persuaded you to attend Baylor for graduate school? And to come back to teach? 

I attended Baylor for my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees.  I did leave Waco for a few years after finishing my undergraduate degree; I moved to Oklahoma City to complete a dietetic internship and to work as a dietitian.  After working in a hospital as a clinical dietitian for about two years, I realized that wasn’t my “calling” or passion in life.  I had always thought I would enjoy teaching and education.  After much thought and prayer, I decided to move back to Waco to complete the Strickland Scholars program, a combined masters and teacher certification program in Baylor’s School of Education.  After completing that program, I taught high school science at West High School and then Rapoport Academy.  I decided to pursue a Ph.D. as a way to grow professionally as an educator.  I looked around at other programs, but I decided to stay in Waco and to attend Baylor’s program because this allowed me to continue teaching at West and then Rapoport.  (I taught high school at least part-time for the duration of my doctoral program.  The classes are all offered at night, and so this allowed me to teach during the day.)

I finished my doctoral degree in August 2015.  For the 2015-2016 school year, I continued teaching at Rapoport Academy and also taught a night class at Baylor as an adjunct instructor.  My plan was to continue teaching at Rapoport for another year or two, really taking my time in the search for a job in higher education.  However, that plan changed when Dr. Suzanne Nesmith (my mentor professor) contacted me in the Spring of 2016 to see if I might be interested in a position as a visiting lecturer in the School of Education.  My responsibilities in this position include supervising student teachers and teaching science methods courses.

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

I was surprised by how willing the professors were to work with and mentor graduate students.

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

Rewarding, diligence, community.

What activities were you involved with outside of the classroom?

As I mentioned above, I taught high school science at least part-time for the duration of my doctoral program.  For the first two years, I taught full-time at West High School.  For the last three years, I taught part-time at Rapoport Academy.  When I was teaching part-time at Rapoport, I also had a graduate assistantship with Dr. Nesmith.  The combination of being a teacher, student, and GA took up most of my time; however, I do think that it is very important to try to maintain some type of balance.  For me, that meant working out regularly and being involved at my church.

What does your average Saturday look like now as compared to when you were a graduate student?

Saturdays are a lot more relaxed and low-key now.  During the work week, I focused most of my attention on preparing for my teaching responsibilities and completing GA tasks.  So the weekends were when I focused on my graduate course work.  I was up pretty early on Saturdays to get started on that.  I’m definitely enjoying sleeping in and relaxing on the weekends now.

How has the city of Waco impacted your time here?

With the exception of the three years that I lived in Oklahoma City, I’ve been in Waco since 1999 when I started my undergraduate years at Baylor.  It’s been so exciting to see the changes that have taken place in Waco during that time.  Growing up in Houston, Waco initially felt too small to me.  Waco has grown on me throughout the years though, and now I can’t imagine myself in a big city.

What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?

Lula Jane’s or Alpha Omega

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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?

Go for it!  You won’t regret it!  The combination of Baylor’s Christian environment, top-notch graduate programs, small classes, and excellent professors provides for a great graduate school experience.

Compiled by Matthew Doyen

Talking to Bears: Porter Ellett

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.

 

Hometown: Loa, Utah

Undergraduate Degree: Economics

Undergraduate University: Brigham Young University

Graduate Degree: M.A. in Sport Management

Expected Year of Graduation: 2017

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

They have the structure necessary to support my program. I came and visited the campus along with Dr. Petersen, and everything exceeded my expectations. I was really leaning towards attending another university, but the visit sealed the deal. The people of Waco were very kind and genuine, so it eased the tension of being halfway across the country from home. I also like the family values that seem to flow through the culture of Waco. That was big for my wife and me.

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

How engaging the learning process is. Almost every single student in my program is working outside of class in a sport management related field. It is a great plus to the program.

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

Stretch, manage, and understand.

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

  1. Allow students to handle aspects of attraction more. I think student led tours and things are great, but adding student led marketing campaigns could boost the profile of the grad school. Youth would aid in being in tune with social media and other modern marketing thoughts and trends.
  2. He is really cool so getting him in front of the student population more could do wonders. If undergrads heard him speak or interacted with him, I am sure some would be swayed to pursue a grad degree.

What activities are you involved with outside of the classroom?

I work for SMG McLane Stadium and am active in the Sport Management Association. A few less official things include exercising at the SLC and attending athletic events.

What does your average Saturday look like?

My wife and I get up around 6:30 or 7:00 head to the gym and we usually spend the day enjoying sporting events either on TV or in person. The evenings we usually try to go somewhere new for dinner then catch a movie.

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

It is fun place to explore with its own unique culture, but I think the people have impacted me more than anything. I have yet to meet an unkind person in my time here. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s the truth. It has made me a kinder person and helped me appreciate the important things in life a little more.

What is your go-to lunch spot in Waco?

We have tried a lot of new stuff, so I haven’t repeated too many meals. Torchy’s Tacos may have recently become my go-to.

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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?

Join us!

Compiled by Matthew Doyen

Talking to Bears: Amanda Sawyer

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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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

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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