Veggie Van

World Hunger Relief, Inc. initiated the Veggie Van, a mobile farmers market that increases access to healthy foods like fruitsveggie-van and vegetables for people who live in “food deserts,” or geographic areas where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, in the spring of 2015 and currently offers about 10 weekly stops at churches, schools, and other social service organizations around McLennan County.

Undergraduate and graduate epidemiology students in the Baylor Public Health Program have been working with World Hunger Relief to collect data on the Veggie Van since January
2016 to try to understand more about Van customers. They use a 5 minute survey to capture basic demographic information like age and educational attainment, fruit and vegetable consumption on a usual day, food purchasing practices, potential barriers to healthy eating like cost or time, Veggie Van usage, and custget-your-veggiesomer recommendations for the Van. As a small token of appreciation for their time, Veggie Van customers who participate in the survey receive a $5 voucher to purchase more fruit and vegetables from the Veggie Van.

Survey design was a partnership between Kelly Ylitalo, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology in the Baylor Public Health Program, and Matt Hess, Executive Director of World Hunger Relief, Inc. Results of the survey will be used to inform and customize Veggie Van services in McLennan County to increase Van awareness and utilization. Dr. Ylitalo also hopes that the results of the survey can be used to inform other mobile farmers market programs around the country, and eventually be used to design a health intervention for Van customers in the Waco area. Epidemiology students who participate in the data collection process are contributing to a local community organization, learning more about hunger and food in their community, understanding how to collect health-related data, and developing a deeper appreciation for health-related data—that there is a face behind every number.

The schedule for the Veggie Van can be found here:

Higher Learning

Each year Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning hosts the Symposium on Faith and Culture to address significant issues from the vantage point of Christian intellectual traditions. In doing so, it attempts to realize Baylor University’s aspiration to cultivate reflective engagement with the world of public ideas and issues, especially in a way that acknowledges the relevance of Christian questions, convictions, and contributions.

This year’s symposium, “Higher Learning,” held October 27-29, 2016, welcomed nearly 500 participants, convened 53 sessions, and hosted 127 presentations from approximately 190 scholars over the course of three days as it engaged participants in conversations about the profound challenges facing American higher education.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Candace Vogler, the David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Philosophy and Professor in the College at the University of Chicago, and Principal Investigator on “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life,” a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation; Dr. James Davison Hunter, the LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia; and Dr. John Haldane, the J. Newton Rayzor, Sr. Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University.

In an era in which higher learning has largely been divorced from questions of meaning and purpose, Dr. Vogler reminded conference participants that Christian higher education has, perhaps now more than ever, a vital mission to answer the fundamental human desire for one’s work to be rooted in a common good oriented beyond self-interest. In its attempt to cultivate virtues that connect vocation to transcendent meaning and purpose, Christian higher education still has enormous potential to promote human flourishing.


Heartprints of Africa

Baylor Nursing School Alumni twins Cinda Adams Brooks (BSN, 1983) and Linda Adams Witte (BSN, 1982) have co–authored and published a book, Heartprints of Africa: A Family’s Story of Faith, Love, Adventure, and Turmoil (Ant Press, 2015), available now on Amazon.  heartprints2When Cinda visits her identical twin Linda and her family at her home on the mission field in Northern Uganda, little did they know they would soon be running for their lives. How did a relaxing vacation result in a terrifying escape from artillery heartprintsand automatic gunfire? The answer begins four decades earlier when their parents and family of seven leave everything familiar in America to start lie as medical missionaries in rural East Africa. Three generations of a family’s love, forged by shared faith, struggles, and triumphs, serve them now as they fight for survival. Heartprints of Africa is a real story of God’s love, provision, and protection.

After a rich missionary career in Africa, Linda now works as a
SANE nurse in San Antonio. Cinda combined nursing with law enforcement for a rich career teaching health, fitness, and survival at the Texas Game Warden Academy.

I Walk With Natasha

A large and diverse group of Baylor students, faculty, staff, and administrators joined together to support Natasha “Tasha” Nkhama as she walked from class in the Tidwell Bible Building to the Baylor Science Building on Friday morning. The gathering, “I Walk With Natasha,” was prompted to show support in the wake of a racist incident two days earlier.

Interim President David Garland provided a poignant reflection: “Jonathan Franzen wrote, ‘Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific…to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.’ When we love others like this, we make ourselves so much greater. It means one walk in solidarity is not enough. Walking with our brothers and sisters must become a daily walk on and off this campus.”walk-with-natasha

Tasha’s comments at Tidwell and again at the BSB were poignant and moving. She said, “Here we love each other, and we’re a reflection of God, and God is love.” She emphasized that the gathering was a sign of who the Baylor community really is, a community that cares for each other. At the conclusion of the walk, she thanked everyone for gathering, expressed appreciation for the student who intervened to speak up for her, and then said, in reference to the person who said the hateful things to her, “I am praying for you, and I love you…and everyone here loves you, and we just want to see the world be a better place.” A thoughtful and hopeful message for us all.

Baylor at the Vatican

Dr. Peter Hotez, University Professor of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences at Baylor and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute (as well as Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine), helped to kick off the first-ever Vatican conference on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and rare diseases with a keynote address on Thursday, November 10.

In his speech, which was delivered before more than 500 conference participants from around the world, Dr. Hotez explained that he was honored to present about what he calls “the most important diseases you have never heard of.” One in six people in the world have at levaticanast one NTD, making NTDs the most common diseases of the poor. “These are diseases borne of poverty and conflict – two challenges at the heart of the social mission of the Catholic Church.” He explained the significance of eradicating NTDs: “It is clear that NTDs are an affront to human dignity and obstacle to human flourishing. No one should suffer unnecessarily from these ancient diseases in the twenty-first century… To succeed in the effort to end extreme poverty, the global community must make a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable by scaling up the effort to fight NTDs. One of the most basic things we can do to overcome what Pope Francis has termed the ‘globalization of indifference’ and advance the common good is to take decisive action against NTDs: expanding treatment coverage to reduce prevalence today, advancing research and development of new tools to achieve elimination in the coming years, and in the interim, ensuring the basic rights and dignity of patients, combatting all forms of stigma and discrimination.”

The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin – essentially Pope Francis’ second-in-command – was present for Dr. Hotez’s speech. The Cardinal seemed very interested in Dr. Hotez’s speech and reiterated several of his points in his own speech. They shared a vision for how “we can one day eliminate the world’s NTDs as a powerful expression of solidarity with the poor.”

Read more here:


One Word at a Time

Austin Speech Labs, co-founded in 2008 by speech pathologists Shelley Adair (Baylor ’92) and Shilpa Shamapant took home the National Stroke Association’s 2016 RAISE Award for Most Impactful Stroke Group. Austin Speech Labs is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing intensive speech and cognitive therapy that helps to address the wide gap between services covered by medical insurance and what stroke survivors truly austin-speech-labsneed to return to their social and professional lives. To ensure that all clients receive optimal recovery, Austin Speech Labs provides individualized intensive services to stroke survivors for $10 per hour, and even provides services for free to 30% of their clients. Since their start, Austin Speech Labs has made a truly great impact on those affected by stroke in the Central Texas Area. They have provided over 14,000 hours of stroke therapy to over 500 stroke survivors, and educated over 1,000 community members on strokes and neuroplasticity. More than just a place to receive speech therapy, Austin Speech Labs also trains undergraduate and graduate students across the nation, including some of our own Baylor Bears.

Shelley Adair reflects, “We are so excited to receive this award and would austin-speech-labs2like to use this platform to continue to RAISE awareness, do research, and train students so that we can minimize recovery time for stroke survivors.”

For more information on Austin Speech Labs and the life-changing work they do, contact them at (512) 992-0575 or

Making Connections

Martha Agee, J.D., senior lecturer in accounting and business law for the Hankamer School of Business, allowed her students to earn additional points by donating school supplies and individual notes of hope and encouragement to a class of third-graders taught by Gaylen Tenberg at Marlin Primary Academy, a public elementary school in Marlin, Texas.

Collected school suppliesAgee and Tenberg turned the opportunity into a learning experience: Agee asked her Baylor students to name their hometown in their notes, and Tenberg used that information to help her students learn how to find those locations on a world map. Tenberg reported: “The third-grade students were so excited about using the world map to locate hometowns of the Baylor students who wrote them notes encouraging them to study hard and do their best.

Students with mapThey couldn’t believe people would travel all around the world to attend Baylor University, and one student made the connection that Baylor must be the best college in the world.”

Learn more here:


Undergraduate Research

The College of Arts & Sciences is delighted to announce that it recently has begun accepting applications for the new Science Research Fellows degree program, which will attract high-achieving students who are interested in enhanced opportunities to do research as undergraduates with top Arts & Sciences faculty. Science Research Fellows is a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary major (BS) that provides students with an academic foundation for successful research careers in biochemistry, psychology, environmental science, physics, and many other areas of study.
Science Research Fellows

To learn more:

Remembering David Grotberg

David Grotberg
David Grotberg

Out of the tragedy of David Grotberg’s death in a hit-and-run accident in early October, the Baylor community, and the University Chaplain’s office and the Honors Residential College in particular, responded with remarkable grace, hope, and love. Their reactions reflected the habits of the daily life of a Christian community that had embraced David and been embraced by him. One could clearly sense the broad impact David had on the Baylor community in the stories shared by David’s friends in the memorial service at Baylor.

The service brimmed with a sense of genuine hope, marked by laughter and joy amidst the grief. Baylor was also represented by Dean Tom Hibbs at the memorial service that was held in David’s hometown of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Greeting Dean Hibbs at the service, David’s father said, “Tom, I’m so glad people from Baylor are here. We thought along with losing our son we might lose our Baylor family. But we haven’t.” David’s mother expressed her regret that David didn’t have more time at Baylor because she could see how much he had flourished while a student here.


The HRC’s response to this tragedy embodies Baylor’s Christian mission at our best and our commitment to faithfulness in challenging as well as prosperous times. The Grotberg family will continue to remain in our prayers in the coming months and years.