Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

Page 4 of 7

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

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.


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!


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


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.


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

GradFocus: Brian Rundle

Brian Rundle wasn’t too surprised when his latest publishing started to gain international attention. “Contagious yawning is something that everyone experiences,” Rundle explains, but there is more to his study than just those familiar involuntary movements. His research was focused on who is catching these yawns, or rather, who is not.

It has been theorized that the contagiousness of yawns is due to empathy. We understand that the yawner is tired and, in an attempt to console that person, we yawn, as well. It makes sense. It is also recognized that psychopaths suffer from a disorder that causes them not to feel empathy, hence their often violent social behavior. Again, makes sense. If these were indeed true, Rundle hypothesized, then it should also be true that psychopaths would not be victim to the same contagious yawning.

Rundle and his team, which included his mentor Dr. Matthew Stanford, evaluated a sample of Baylor students in the aggression laboratory to find the answer. First, they tested the group to see if they displayed psychopathic traits. Then, they put the same group in an environment to study if there was a difference in yawn catching between those who displayed psychopathic traits and those who did not. The results were published and began to rapidly spread across the Internet with the speed of a Kardashian scandal (poor Rob). People were intrigued at this new information that could help them determine if someone could be a psychopath and the author has been enjoying his “short limelight.”

Rundle, a San Antonio native, came to Baylor as a psychology undergrad in 2006 and returned a few years ago as a doctoral candidate in the behavioral neuroscience program. After almost a decade in Waco, he is excited to see that the city is continuing to improve.  The downtown area has become safer and has seen an uprising in diversity among the activities and restaurants it offers. Rundle agrees that it has become “significantly better” because of the amount of money being pumped into cleaning up the area and he has been a part of that revitalization. In his free time, he works at a vegetable stand at the popular Waco Farmer’s Market and enjoys experiencing and working in the city’s “unsaturated” artisan scene.

When asked if he could give one piece of advice to prospective BU graduate students, Rundle responded, “Baylor is great. They are real supportive of people. It’s a very warm culture here. People are very interested in getting to know you. And, in a positive way, they are very Texan.” He continued, “The academics are great, and they are improving. You won’t regret having a degree from Baylor.”

But you may regret the next time you yawn, and your date across the table doesn’t.

By Matthew Doyen

Going Home Brings a New Perspective

In an effort to become a healthier version of myself, I have recently started taking yoga classes through BU’s Bearobics program. As much as I enjoy the stretches and the planks (ew) and the poses, my favorite part of the session has become the last ten minutes of corpse pose. In an effort to enter a deep relaxation of both body and mind, we lay flat on our backs with our left hands on our hearts and our right hands on our stomachs. To help with this process, it is suggested that we envision a peaceful place. I’ve been picturing the past moments when I would sit on my porch at home with the company of the cool breeze and the stubbornly changing leaves of early autumn.

I was excited to get an opportunity to return home last week, even though it was under very somber circumstances, to once again return to my peaceful place. I very much missed it. Every day, the disappointment of not being able to experience it for the first time in my life was slowly swelling and constantly lingered in the back of my mind. So there I found myself: porch, breeze, sprinkles of yellow, orange, and amber in the nearby mountain range. It didn’t take long for the memories of the upcoming fall festivals, high school football games, and Hocus Pocus marathons to be quickly recollected. It was everything that I envisioned, everything that I wanted.

But then I suddenly came back to reality because I started to miss something. I started to miss Waco. I started to miss Baylor. I started to miss my friends, my co-workers, my professors. I even started to miss how the Texas sun makes me feel like a turkey roasting over a crackling fire. It was then that I realized that this porch will always be here and that these September days will always feel the same. But if I stay obsessed with recreating these purely comfortable moments, then I’ll become stagnant and the opportunities to find, appreciate, and enjoy other peaceful places will be forever lost.

When I go to yoga tonight, I will envision a different place during the last ten minutes of corpse pose. I will think of a special place that I was taken to during one of my first days in Waco and that I immediately visited upon my short hiatus. It lies on the top of a cliff, beyond the barriers and echoes of voices. The tranquil Brazos River flows powerfully below while the foliage of Cameron Park sprawls effortlessly out behind. In the distance, McLane Stadium’s rafters and Baylor’s elegant spires peek through and even further, water and electrical towers loom. It is beautiful. It is Waco. I know that this once foreign spot, will (sooner than I could ever imagine) bring back a wave of new memories that are in the process of being made. I know that this will be my new peaceful place.


By Matthew Doyen


Blazing a Trail at Baylor: How One Student Pioneered and Pursued her Passion

In the fall of 2013, I started my senior year as an Elementary Education major. Senior year is the year of your internship as a teacher in a classroom. My intern experience started off fairly similar to everyone else… full of excitement and joy around the students, yet while everyone else was figuring things out and getting more comfortable, I began to discover that the classroom did not seem to be a good fit for me. Slowly my teaching and planning started to suffer and I began to have anxiety problems surrounding school, because I could not quite figure out what direction to pursue. Luckily I had great professors to talk to and help me through this time. Dr. Barbara Purdum-Cassidy and Dr. Sandi Cooper spent lots of time with me, giving advice, providing encouragement, and working to explore other possibilities. My whole world shifted when one of them suggested the idea of Informal Education.

I spent the rest of the fall semester researching “informal education” (education in museums, aquariums, libraries, zoos, etc.) while my professors were looking into possible internships in Waco. Before we left for Christmas break, I had interviewed and agreed to do an internship at Cameron Park Zoo with the education department in the Spring 2014. During my time at Cameron Park Zoo I worked closely with the Education Curator, Connie Kassner. She taught me how to handle animals and gave me responsibilities with the care of the education animals. I helped update/ lead outreach programs and on grounds programs, I wrote new scavenger hunts, helped coordinate volunteers and also assisted in organizing events at the zoo. The outreach programs took up most of my mornings. A partner and I would take a group of the education animals to a school where we would present different lessons we had created and connected to TEKS before we would present the animals. I loved getting to see children react to the animals. It made the ideas and concepts we were talking about so much more meaningful and tangible. Students could actually see and feel the differences of reptiles and mammals rather than just talk about them or look at pictures. Cameron Park Zoo has several education programs and events throughout the year. Events such as National Amphibian Day, Bear Awareness, Big Cat Day and many others that spotlight different animals. Another event I participated in was the Poison Safety Safari, a collaborative event with the Poison Control Center, where visitors learn about poison hazards and venomous animals. These events are intended to add to visitors experience and education.

During my internship, I was able to take two classes in the Museum Studies program at Baylor– Museum Educational Programming and Introduction to Museums. I loved the opportunity to take these courses while working at the zoo, because many concepts overlapped and I was able to discover lots of connections. Connie and I would have lots of discussions that stemmed from ideas we learned in class and I was able to see how it differed in a zoo setting.

During the semester I was working at the zoo, I had the great opportunity to lead a group of Education students in a collaborative project with the Baylor Chamber. The Baylor Chamber is a group of students responsible for the bears on campus. They also lead presenations for area school children when they make a campus visit to see the bears. Chamber wanted to make their programming more educational and more marketable to teachers. My team took the previous information chamber presented to groups and wrote them into age/grade appropriate presentations. The project also included connecting TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) to the different presentations so that Chamber could market their presentations to schools as more relevant to the state standards.

Even though my work at Cameron Park Zoo has ended, my connections are still strong. I try to volunteer and help out with events as much as possible. I was able to help organize and participate in the Texas Aquarium and Zoo Educator conference in January 2015 at Cameron Park Zoo. There I got to meet and learn from informal educators all over the state of Texas.

I am currently a graduate student about to complete my Masters of Science in Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate/specialization in informal education. With help from my professors, I was able to individualize my program to fit my area of study by taking several courses in the department of Museum Studies. The Curriculum and Instruction classes have been very easy to connect to museum education as well as connecting the Museum Studies courses to education. I believe Baylor University has provided me a well-rounded knowledge of informal education through the individuality of my degree program and the support of my professors.

My hope is that the Baylor School of Education and Museum Studies could partner to create an official program for students like me. Amazing professors who truly care about their students and their success have blessed me and helped me get to where I am. Without their guidance, I might not have graduated college or would not have the hopes of a future career.

Top 4 Worth Waking Up For: Best Brunch Destinations in Waco

If you like brunch and crave it at least three times a day, then we have something in common. It’s kind of sad, but all week I look forward to the weekend where I can enjoy a nice brunch with even better company.

Brunch truly is the best of both worlds. Deciding on whether you want breakfast or lunch is the only tough question and then you can embark on the side of the menu that fits your craving. Am I making you hungry yet?

Fortunately for Baylor students and Wacoans, there are quite a few options when it comes to brunch cuisine. Since there are so many, I decided to seek out the top establishments and find the top four worth waking up for.

  1. The Olive Branch

Olive Branch WTX

Tired after all that shopping at Spice Village? Just walk downstairs to The Olive Branch for a cozy brunch. With the old wooden beams and brick model it’s hard not to enjoy the atmosphere of this unique spot.

Along with the typical breakfast foods, The Olive Branch offers exquisite quiche and amazing croissants. If you’re looking for a snack later on, I hear that the cupcakes are pretty divine as well.

P.S. If you’re looking for a venue for a special event, you can rent out the Express Café!

  1. Waco Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market WTX

I know what you’re thinking. Is this really a brunch place? Absolutely. If you haven’t had coffee and crepes at the Waco Farmer’s Market then you need put this on your calendar for next Saturday. Plus, think about all of the fresh produce that you can stock up on for the upcoming week!

Did I mention that the Waco Farmer’s Market is also pet-friendly? Yep! Bring your furry friend and adventure away. I mean, cute dogs are always an excuse to go anywhere, right?

  1. Lula Jane’s

Lula Jane's WTX

Looking for a quiet place to enjoy some good food with good friends? Lula Jane’s is the perfect place for you. Everything is made from scratch, in-house and with the best ingredients.

The breads and scones are amazing, but my personal favorite is the baked oatmeal with blueberries and a cup of coffee.

1. Café Cappuccino

Cafe Capp WTX

I bet you’re really hungry now. Yes, Café Capp is where you can get these to-die-for pancakes. Honestly though, everything here is simply amazing. I enjoy the caramel mocha lattes and every pancake they offer.

Bring your appetite and a large group of friends for a brunch you’ll never forget!

If you haven’t ventured out to try one or any of these brunch hot spots then you must go soon! Waco truly is a wonderland filled with all kinds of unique places to explore.

Interested in all of the exciting things going on here at Baylor University Graduate School? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

By Caroline Jerome


Five Things I Learned during My First Week of Grad School

After a week of attending graduate school at Baylor, I actually did learn a few things and was told to write them down before everything was forgotten.


1.  That Baylor Is Very Much an Undergraduate Campus

I should’ve realized this from the get-go, but despite my impressive graduate school status, I am still young and naïve. It all started when I visited campus during the summer when only the faculty, staff, and a handful of students were present. It was so incredibly peaceful. I moved into my apartment two weeks before the start of the semester, while the campus was still ever so serene. A week later at orientation, I was listening when Dean Lyon said that undergrads outnumber us six to one and that this is primarily an undergrad campus. Oh, Dean Lyon, I thought. He doesn’t know that this is what it feels like going to a school that doesn’t have over 35,000 students, that this is so nice.

Then, my first day of class came and along with it my first lesson learned. I walked through campus and found students everywhere. They were sitting in my swinging chair, standing in line at my Starbucks, and trying to run me over with their overzealous mopeds on my cross-campus path to class. What was going on? I wondered. Where did all of these students come from? Why was everybody dressed to go to the gym, how do large groups of students have time to “play ultimate,” and how were the parking lots littered with fancy cars with blasting sound systems? Don’t they have to go class, or to their jobs, or to their apartments to wash their clothes and clean their dishes and feed their cats?

No, they don’t. Because they are undergrads. Because this is primarily an undergraduate campus (my apologies, Dean Lyon). But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because of the large number of undergrads, we, graduate students, have access to a massive and comprehensive library system, a well-equipped gym (complete with a rock wall, swimming pool, indoor track, and my favorite: yoga classes), over two hundred campus organizations, and plenty of comic relief. I take advantage of these FREE resources every day, while I watch the undergrads as they take me back to a simpler time.

2.  To Start Budgeting (Stop Spending) Money

Throughout my undergraduate career, I was fortunate enough to have a job around the holidays, during summer break, and on the weekends when I ventured home. This job provided a decent-sized check that I could put in the bank, while also providing a healthy sum of cash I could pocket. Because of this, my budget was always based on the amount of money that I had in my wallet (and the amount of times I visited my grandparents). And it worked pretty well. But then a strange thing happened to me before I came to graduate school, I was accepted for a credit card. That tiny, plastic rectangle could account for hundreds of dollars and my slowly diminishing wads of ones and fives seemed more trivial than ever.

Now that I’m in graduate school, I’m still working the same amount of hours, but one hundred percent of my income is direct-deposited. I pay my rent, my utilities, and my internet bill online and Vitek’s (the local BBQ joint with the appropriately named Gut-Pak) takes cards so there is no need to have a significant amount of cash on me at any time. But that resulted in my card being used for everything, all the time, no matter the place, no matter the price. Even after just one week, it started to accumulate. I realized that the next time I go to the store I will have to use coupons and only buy things that H-E-B has on-sale; that going out to eat every night was a lifestyle that I wanted, but could not afford; and that I need to give my grandparents my new address so they could send their favorite grandson more money.

After that fateful first week, I find myself doing boring, adult things like budgeting (and going to sleep before the clock reaches double digits). Each day, I write down my expenditures because a visual of the money I am spending, something that a plastic rectangle cannot offer, is often helpful. I set a budget each week for groceries and gas, going out to eat or drink (once during the weekday and once on the weekends), emergency costs that may arise, and Shorty’s pizza (where an extra-large pepperoni pie is only $9.99!). And it’s working pretty well.

3.  That the Professors Truly Care

I think that this one may be uniquely personal. I was a history major (after switching my major twice). I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do after I walked off that stage with my degree. I had no passion for the field. I had no relationships with the professors. I didn’t even know that I wanted to be in the museum field until my last semester when I accidentally signed up for the only museum class at the university. After a few weeks though, I found myself visiting the professor’s office (on purpose) and a few months later asked him to write a letter of recommendation that may have tipped my application into the accepted pile. I enjoyed that relationship, but learned that they get even better.

Graduate school is very intimate. The programs are small, which leads to the professors knowing all of our names and their willingness to always help out. They are interested in our success and treat us as professionals. And I thoroughly enjoy that, even after one week, I can both joke with them (I’m looking at you, Dr. Hafertepe) while also having intellectual conversations about the current challenges that face our field. They say, and believe, that we are the future of museums and make us feel like we are important, intelligent, and respected. It is refreshing and gives us the confidence we need to succeed.

Because of this, we come to class with every line read and challenging questions in mind. We don’t want to disappoint the people who believed in us so much that they personally chose us to be in their program. They share personal experiences that strengthen our bond and contacts that will strengthen are resumes. They are scheduling to take us to see their friends who work as directors, curators, and educators in museums and at historical sites that are successfully evolving with the twenty-first century. They truly do care and I’m excited to continue our relationships for the remainder of the program and for the rest of our lives.

4.  To Embrace the Uncomfortableness

Embrace it! Believe me, I know as much as any other introvert that meeting new people can be awkward and uneasy. I always liked to (and was content with) staying with my family and my friends and never actively sought to enlarge my social group. But being in Waco presented a specific challenge: I was 300 miles away from my closest friend and over 1500 miles away from my family. Essentially, I was all alone and that was really scary. I could (and maybe did) wallow in my room and listen to Dashboard Confessional while downing half-gallons of ice cream, but I don’t want to be that person. I decided that I wanted to be the person that takes full advantage of my two years at Baylor. I decided to look at my situation not as a challenge, but as an opportunity.

As previously stated, I went to a large university for my undergraduate degree, but it still seemed like ninety-five percent of the people were from eastern Pennsylvania. It was comforting that we all shared that in common and could talk about the Phillies or the Flyers, but after a while I got tired of the routine, of the expected. That is exactly why I came to Baylor and to Waco. I wanted to meet new people from different corners of the country and I wasn’t going to accomplish that by staying at home in a pile of mint chocolate chip sludge.

All of the first-years met during orientation (and awaited the Sorting Hat). Despite it being pretty awkward, everyone seemed welcoming and we quickly became friends on Facebook. It seemed that this was going to be easier than I reckoned. But then when the call came in to physically hang out again, only a handful (four) decided to answer. Did that stop the four of us from getting a drink at Dancing Bear? Nope. Were there times when it was disturbingly silent before someone would say something? Yep. Did I say stupid things that were embarrassing? You bet. Are the four of us best friends after only the first week? Absolutely.

There are no (very, very, very few) excuses. One of my new best friends went to Baylor as an undergrad and still has friends around campus as well as a significant other and a family that is less than three hours away. Did she use any of those reasons to not go through the often agonizing, tortuous process of making new friends? No! Believe me, I know it would be easy to avoid, especially if you have a legitimate excuse or enjoy being a successful introvert, but making the next two years a whole lot more comfortable starts by embracing the uncomfortableness. It is worth it.

5.  That I Can Do It

During orientation, the theatre department acted out sketches and one of them addressed a fear that I thought only I had: that I didn’t belong here. My undergraduate grades were alright, but not perfect; my experience in the museum world was limited; and I didn’t know if I was ready for the gauntlet known as graduate school. I spent countless nights over the summer wondering if they made a mistake accepting me, if I over-exaggerated too much on my resume (never), if I was going to disappoint everyone that had become so proud of me.

The first week we were given upwards of 150 pages to read. I hate reading anything that doesn’t start with “Harry Potter and the…” I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it – my days were full of classes and jobs, while my nights were spent juggling the gym, housework, friendship, and Netflix – but I had to. I spent most of Saturday afternoon with my phone and TV turned off. Six hours later I was half-way through the assignments – the fact that I wanted to have insightful things to say during class discussions made my reading slower – and I knew I needed a break. I texted my friends and hung out with them for the remainder of the night without a single word about museums spoken. Sunday came and went with more hours spent reading and taking notes, but also featured watching the ‘Stros game on TV.

There is a weight that needs to be balanced with extreme caution: too much work and your mind will slowly wither away, but too much play and your mind will slowly wither away, as well. At one point, this balancing act seemed like a daunting task, but now I know that it is totally manageable. I learned that I can do this grad school thing, but only with great friends, kind professors, daily(ish) exercise, and a little money saved for Saturday night.

By Matthew Doyen

5 Celebrities With Graduate Degrees

Have you ever wondered how many of your favorite celebrities have graduate degrees, but simply couldn’t find the time to Google it and see for yourself?  Well, fret not, the Baylor Graduate School does have the time and we’re about to dish out some knowledge regarding Hollywood’s most knowledgeable figures.  It’s always good to know that if your grad school plans don’t work out, you can just move to Hollywood and hope for success there.  Here’s five celebrities you (maybe) didn’t know had graduate degrees!

  1. James Franco


Though Franco has a penchant for playing the happy-go-lucky stoner (Freaks and Geeks, Pineapple Express, Spring Breakers, etc.) he seems to sport a surprisingly big brain.  In 2006, Franco reenrolled at UCLA and received permission to take as many as 62 course credits per quarter (the regular amount is 19).  I’m pretty sure 62 hours is completely impossible to handle without some serious help or leniency from the university, but it’s still impressive that the guy even wanted to take classes in the first place.  He graduated in 2008 and went on earn his MFA in Writing from Columbia in 2010.  The most recent info I could find on him says that he is currently enrolled as a PhD student at Yale.  According to Mr. Franco, staying in school helps him stay grounded and he enjoys being around people who share his same interests.

  1. Shaquille O’Neal


For those who don’t know, Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) is one of the most dominant centers to ever play the game of basketball.  His interests, however, are not limited to sports.  He’s also a rapper, actor, reserve police officer, and get this…doctor. He earned a bachelor of arts in general studies from LSU, received his MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2005, and earned his Ed.D in Human Resource Development at Barry University.  Shaq currently serves as the newest member of TNT’s halftime show along with NBA legends Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.  Although Shaq’s commentary is somewhat lacking at times, he’s usually good for some slapstick humor which is only punctuated by his 7’1, 350 pound frame.  See here.

  1. Meryl Streep


Meryl Streep is one of the most respected and awarded actresses of all time.  It comes as little surprise to find out that she was properly trained for the profession.  She received her BA from Vassar College in 1971, earned an MFA from Yale’s drama school in 1975 and was given an honorary doctor of arts degree in 1981.  I won’t list all of her accolades here, but believe me, they are legion.  Suffice to say, furthering your education never hurts—no matter which profession you choose.

  1. Ken Jeong


You probably recognize this guy from his over-the-top roles in movies and television.  Jeong is best known for his parts in NBC’s Community and The Hangover trilogy.  But were you aware that he is a licensed physician?  Dr. Jeong graduated high school at 16, completed his undergrad at Duke and earned his M.D. from UNC Chapel Hill in 1995.  He then practiced medicine for a few years in Los Angeles before landing his breakout role in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up.  Jeong’s success proves that med school can indeed teach you to find the funny bone (I stole that gem from somewhere online).

  1. Rowan Atkinson


Who could’ve guessed that one of the dumbest characters ever created would be portrayed by one of the smartest actors?  Well, that’s exactly what happened with Rowan Atkinson.  He received his first degree from Newcastle University in Electrical Engineering and continued on to earn his M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Oxford in 1975.  After appearing in several skits and programs throughout British entertainment, Atkinson revealed his breakout character “Mr. Bean” in 1990 and became a household name shortly after.

So, there’s five random celebrities with graduate degrees. Next time one of their names pops up, you can dazzle friends with your strangely specific knowledge of their education. Just make sure to give the grad school credit. We did all the Googling after all.

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