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Alumna Elvia Aguilar Graduates from Leadership Program May 24, 2021

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Congratulations to Baylor JPR&NM alumna Elvia Aguilar, a recent graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi, a training program for emerging and existing leaders that builds the needed skills, knowledge, motivation, and vision to develop a stronger community.

Aguilar is the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, who oversees the Austin, Houston and San Antonio Islander Alumni Chapters and the Islander Mentorship Program.

“It is my job to keep our family of Islanders near and far connected with our Island University,” she stated on her website. “Our goal is to grow alumni involvement and pride year-round. I am always on the lookout for ways to build bridges that connect current students to our more than 50,000 Islander Alumni.”

She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Island University in 2017.

”Thanks to the values my parents instilled in me, I have a deep passion for serving my community and I believe higher education helps cities be successful,” she said. Yes

Established in 1972 by the Chamber of Commerce, the program is the third oldest community leadership program in the state. Over 1,200 graduates are having a powerful impact on the community.

Alumnus and Wife Andrew Church Celebrate Birth of Twins May 24, 2021

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Alumnus Andrew and wife Karen Church welcomed these two bundles of joy into the world in April.

In this photo, Abigail “Abby” Beatrix Church and Adam Bairn Church rest after lunch next to their parents.

Abby and Adam were born 5 weeks premature at just over 4 pounds, but are currently thriving at over 8 pounds a cutie. Their summer plans are learning how to sleep at night and focusing on objects farther than a foot away.

Andrew is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He graduated from Baylor University in 2019 with a master’s degree in journalism.

Spring 2021 Chair’s Update  May 21, 2021

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Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.

Professor & Chair Baylor

Hello and welcome to the Spring 2021 Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media newsletter. As you all might imagine, our department has been busy this year. The pandemic brought with it numerous challenges, but we persevered through another semester of what many people labeled “impossible.”

We continued to make strides with the following updates to report:

I am grateful to work with such a hardworking and collegial group of colleagues. This newsletter highlights other achievements by students, staff and faculty in our department.

Outstanding Faculty 

We are excited to have several faculty members in our department who received teaching awards. This issue highlights Maxey ParrishBob Darden and myself.


Dr. Marlene Neill, APR, presented at this year’s International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) and won a top paper award. Neill also had a paper accepted for the International Communication Association Conference.Three members of Baylor JPR&NM department presented their research at this year’s virtual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Midwinter Conference, Drs. Alec Tefertiller, Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez and graduate student Emily Guajardo. Guajardo has been named Outstanding graduate student by the department twice.

Student Media Department Updates

The Baylor Student Media department celebrated another successful year in state, regional and national journalism competitions. The Lariat, Lariat TV News, Roundup and Focus have nabbed 147 awards for 2020-2021 so far, despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic “This was also the year we shifted our focus to almost 100 percent digital with only a dozen special print issues, and our students really stepped up to the challenge.  I’m proud of their work,” said Director of Student Media Bruce Gietzen.

Alumni Updates

Sara Dodd, Ella Prichard, Kay Wheeler Moore and Brittany Burcham

In this newsletter, we hear from several alumni, including Sarah Dodd, a new Advisory Board member, alumna Ella Prichard (‘63), who reflects on her experiences as a Baylor Lariat editor. We also learn what it was like for trailblazer Kay Wheeler Moore, one of the first women to cover the Kentucky Derby. Alumna Brittany Burcham explains how TikTok helped her spread messages of hope for teenagers in the foster care system.

Alumni Accolades

Clair St. Amant, Flora Peir, Alexis Cubit and  Parmida Schahhosseini

Alumni kudos are extended to Baylor journalism, public relations and new media alumna Claire St. Amant, whose latest project is a true crime investigative podcast about the mysterious disappearance and death of college wrestler, Dammion Heard. Sports reporter and former NABJ president Alexis Cubit recently accepted a new reporting position after two years of covering sports for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. She will soon join The State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, where she will cover Clemson Athletics. Flora Peir, ’03, recently joined the “19th,*” a newsroom focusing on gender, politics and policy, as its first news editor. After spending six years in the agency world, Parmida Schahhosseini recently became the communications manager Central Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Susan Duty, Grace Valentine and Lauren Kinney  , shown above, are authors on the move.

Congratulations to the 2021 class of Hall of Fame honorees highlighted at the Baylor Line Foundation’s 56th Annual Hall of Fame Festival: Shehan Jeyarajah (’16); Prichard (’63Michelle Andrews Smith (‘90, MIJ ‘91). Congratulations to award-winning author Preston Lewis, (’72), who has been elected to the Texas Institute of Letters. Preston Kirk  discusses tips for journalists who are covering protests. David McHam shares insight on Baylor’s extensive connection to United Press International UPI.  Baylor alumnus Robbie Rogers describes the many  challenges he faced during the Covid-19 pandemic as Baylor’s director of photography.

In other alumni news, Baylor JPR&NM sponsored its first annual meeting on April 16 as part of Baylor’s 2021 Alumni Week. The event featured a state of the department update, an update on student media programming and awards by Student Media Department Director Bruce Gietzen and an introduction of faculty and staff by Alumni Engagement Chair Bob Darden. The virtual event was well-attended by alumni, advisory board members, faculty and friends of the department.

Guest speakers were Cody Soto, a JPR&NM graduate student, and Emmy award-winning Melissa Wilson, anchor for FOX 26 Morning News weekdays and a medical reporter for FOX 26. Baylor JPR&NM alumnus Derwin Graham concluded the Academy Speaker Series, also held during alumni week.

On a sad note, in his memoriam column, David McHam pays homage to several of our noteworthy alumni who have passed away, including Lee FulbrightBill HartmanLouise Later Wood and Harry Marsh.

Lee FulbrightBill HartmanLouise Later Wood and Harry Marsh

Farewell to a JPR&NM Icon

On another sad note, in May, Baylor JPR&NM said farewell to Office Manager Margaret Kramer, who prior to her retirement had worked at Baylor for 33 years. Kramer will spend more time traveling, reading and with her beautiful family. Baylor faculty, staff and students will miss her.

Donor Support 

Thank you all for your continued support of Baylor JPR&NM!  With your support,  the department awarded around 69 scholarships to students who are majoring in journalism, public relations and new media this year. Scholarship funds are made available thanks to generous contributions from donors.

The department launched the Doug Ferdon Scholarship campaign this spring, raising more than $3,500. Any donor wanting to support this fund should visit http://www.baylor.edu/give. In the search funds text box, type “Dr. Doug Ferdon.” Ferdon’s endowed scholarship fund for JPR&NM will appear as an option to select for the giving form; then complete the requested donor details and payment information selections for gift processing.

In other endowment news, JPR&NM funded the Sara Stone scholarship in record time last December. Another $50,000 was donated in honor of Sara Stone. In addition, many donors graciously gave to the Journalism and Public Relations Excellence Funds.

Kristyn Miller, assistant director of development at Baylor University, has been meeting with various donors on our department’s behalf to raise funds for student scholarships and building improvements. Christie Harper, assistant director of Affinity Groups, is also an invaluable resource for our department. We are thankful for them both.

Baylor JPR&NM friends please stick with us and stay in touch. We have some exciting programs and projects on the horizon. We are grateful for your support of our department, students, faculty and staff!

I hope you enjoy this newsletter. If you have suggestions or anything you would like to contribute to future issues, please email Mia_Moody@baylor.edu or Administrative Associate Lanisa_Tovar@baylor.edu.

Thank you and God bless! Have a wonderful summer!

Congratulations Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media 2021 graduates! We are proud of you all!

Baylor’s Student Media Nab Multiple Awards May 19, 2021

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The Baylor Student Media department is celebrating its students’ great success this year in state, regional and national journalism competitions. The Lariat, Lariat TV News, Roundup and Focus have nabbed 147 awards for 2020-2021 so far, despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was also the year we shifted our focus to almost 100 percent digital with only a dozen special print issues, and our students really stepped up to the challenge.  I’m proud of their work,” said Director of Student Media Bruce Gietzen. “As our alumni know, they set the bar high for excellence with our Lariat platforms, and that tradition lives on thanks to the hard work of our students and professional staff.”

The Lariat’s robust digital content won the top prize from the industry’s leading publication – Editor & Publisher’s Emmy Award for best college campus website. The Lariat is also keeping in step on the social media front. College Broadcasters Inc. recognized its social media accounts as the best in the nation, and The Associated Collegiate Press lauded The Lariat for best use of social media as well.

The Baylor Lariat and Focus magazine both won silver Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and Roundup received Overall Excellence in yearbooks from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.

Many other state and regional journalism organizations honored our student media outlets throughout the year, too, including the Society of Professional Journalists, College Media Association, Baptist Communicators, Press Women of Texas, National Federation of Press Women and ACES: The Society for Editing.

Click here for a full list.

Alumna Follows Heart May 19, 2021

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After spending six years in the agency world, working on behalf of top clients such as JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, Intel, BNY Mellon, Parmida Schahhosseini (’14) decided to do something more purposeful. She saw that her church, Central Presbyterian Church in New York City had an opening for a communications manager so after much prayer, she decided to pursue the position.

“It’s only been a couple of weeks since I started, but already I’m energized about the opportunities available to use my gifts to serve God,” she said.

Schahhosseini is also a former associate editor for http://LastWordOnProFootball.com covering the New York Jets and the NFL. She also contributed to The Jet Press. She started her sports writing career at the Baylor Lariat covering Baylor Football, Basketball, Softball and Soccer.

“It’s funny how life can be sometimes,” she said. “We plan for things. My goal in college was to become a senior vice president at a global agency one day, but God had a different path and he reoriented my desires accordingly.”

During her free time, Parmida enjoys running, reading, writing and belting Creed songs. She currently lives in New York, but is a true Texan at heart.

“I’m extremely blessed and excited for what else God has in store,” she said.


Congratulations to this Year’s Scholarship Recipients May 17, 2021

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Baylor Journalism, Public Relations & New Media offers nearly $200,000 in scholarship funds to students each year. An additional $40,000 is set aside for incoming freshman and transferring journalism majors.

This year, the department awarded around 69 scholarships to students who are majoring in journalism, public relations and new media from 21 endowed scholarships. Scholarship funds are made available thanks to generous contributions from donors.

To apply, current and incoming journalism majors must submit applications with all required material by March 6 each year. All applications are available in December.

We are excited to announce the recipients of this year’s JPR&NM scholarships. Congratulations!


Frank E. Burkhalter Scholarship

Jillian Dunbar

Hayden Hatch

Alexis Konovodoff

Carson Lewis

Moorea Long

Olivia Martin

Olivia Mohney

David A. Cheavens Scholarship

Julia-Rachel Dominguez

Ava Dunwoody

Madeleine Fossler

Clara Lincicome

E.S. Fentress Scholarship

Rebekah Carter

Kaitlyn Coats

Jillian Dunbar

Kathryn Herd

KelsieAnn Trank

Wilson Fielder Jr. Scholarship

Madeleine Fossler

Charles D. Johnson Scholarship

Madeline Hishmeh

Lauren Holcomb

Rebekah Hollingsworth

Cooper Howard

Journalism Department Scholarship

Lynn Hood

Cooper Howard

Grace Jakel

David McHam Scholarship

Meredith Howard

Harry & Frances Provence Scholarship

Katy Durham

Grace Jakel

Al Quinn Scholarship

Olivia Mohney

Adrian Vaughan Scholarship

Clara Lincicome

Mr. and Mrs. Carmage Walls Scholarship

Kailey Davis

Lauren Gibson

Bradley Springman

Hope Miller Scholarship

Erianne Lewis

Elizabeth & Russell Hallberg Scholarship

Olivia Martin

Tommy West Journalism Scholarship

Drake Toll

Debra W. Hampton Scholarship

Hannah Smith

William & Joanne Moore Scholarship

Luke Araujo

Kerry Burkley

Morgan Carter

Rebekah Carter

Sofia Castaneda

Kaitlyn Clink

Emma Ethridge

Rae Jefferson

Jade Jennings

Bethany Kula

Timothy Longoria

Kera Mingus

Jenny Nguyenm

Jenny Nguyen

Heather Nixon

Savannah O’Leary

Annaleise Parsons

Ivan Dave Rejolio

Camryn Runyan

Richard Shull

Danielle Skinner

Hannah Smith

Anna Tabet

Reilly Tartre

Christian Vasquez

Mary Watson Vergnolle

Sue Mayborn Journalism Scholarship

Rachel Chiang

Essence Cummings

Kameron Johnson

Erianne Lewis

Mikaila Neverson

Katelyn Patterson

Jamie Samson

Drake Toll

Kassidy Tsikitas

Shaw Whittle

Frey & K. Frost Scholarship

Bethany Kula



Alumna’s Podcast Tops Chart May 14, 2021

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Baylor journalism, public relations and new media alumna Claire St. Amant’s latest project is a true crime investigative podcast about the mysterious disappearance and death of college wrestler, Dammion Heard.

In week three and pretty close to 100 thousand downloads, the podcast offers listeners a front row seat to what really happened following the mysterious disappearance of a college freshman who went missing after a wrestling team party in 2014. His body was found four days later on a Colorado cliffside.

“As I dug into Dammion’s case, I couldn’t believe how many twists and turns it took,” St. Amant said. “Thanks to the new witnesses and information I’ve found, I believe Dammion’s friends and family are closer than ever to the answers they have been looking for since his untimely death over seven years ago.”

The podcast format allows St. Amant to explore Dammion’s story in more detail than anyone ever has before.

“It’s been quite the reporting journey, and it’s really gratifying to see it out in the world and gaining a following,” she said. “We all have those stories that stick with us long after the headlines have faded. I’ve never been satisfied with the conclusions others have drawn in the Dammion Heard case.”

The podcast debuted at No. 30 on Apple Podcast’s true crime charts and has had over 80 thousand downloads in its first month.

St. Amant has worked as a field producer for CBS News “48 Hours” since 2014. She was part of the breaking news team nominated for an Emmy in 2016 for “Bringing a Nation Together,” a special report on the Dallas Police shooting. In 2019, she began contributing to “60 Minutes,” with “The Ranger and The Serial Killer.”

She got her start as a reporter at People Newspapers. Before joining the national media, she was the managing editor for the popular daily news site CultureMap Dallas. A graduate of Baylor University and a returned Peace Corps volunteer, St. Amant is a native Texan who has also lived in South America and Eastern Europe.

She loves few things more than a good story and a long run, though her husband and son are notable exceptions.

Link to podcast:


Making An Impact Beyond the Classroom May 14, 2021

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By Claire Garza, Spring 2021 Advanced PR Student

At the mention of his name, colleagues, students and alumni beam with joy and express their fondness for Maxey Parrish and his impact on their lives. And his colleagues say that in his 17 years of teaching in JPR&NM, he’s brought a wealth of knowledge, experience, positive change, and deep kindness and dedication to the department.

Parrish’s original career plan didn’t lead to him teaching. He grew up as most boys do, playing little league baseball, football and eventually running track in high school. His love for sports went beyond the field, so he began reading the newspaper’s sports pages. He got the nickname “Sportswriter” when he started writing sports for his high school’s newspaper.

When he was a Baylor senior of the journalism department, he needed three random journalism hours to finish his degree. Parrish took an internship elective that introduced him to sports PR, which ended up being his career of choice for 25 years.

He began that part of his career at Southern Methodist University before coming back to Baylor to work in the athletic department for 20 years. He then worked for a sports internet company called Rivals.com before the company shut down due to a tech bust. Parrish joined the journalism department as a full-time teacher in 2001, not knowing the legacy he would create in the coming years.

Parrish described the culture of the department as “nurturing and full of instructors who want to see their students succeed in life” – and he’s set the bar on that, according to his colleague, Senior Lecturer Cassy Burleson.

Parrish said his “favorite part is contributing in some small way to the eventual career success of students. To see somebody graduate from here, further their education, develop skills, get married, have a family, just go live a good life – to look back and say, ‘Well, OK, I was maybe a little bit a part of that’ – that really to me is the greatest thing of all.”

And Parrish’s impact goes beyond the classroom.

After reading a student’s memoir about a mission trip to Armenia that influenced her, he wanted to get involved with student mission trips during his summers off. And after Parrish had led mission trips for 10 years, Baylor started pushing study abroad programs.

“[Baylor] wanted to look at these things holistically and not just take a Baylor class and box it up and move it some place, but really engage the students in another country, in the culture and everything about it,” Parrish said.

Interested in the program, Parrish applied for a position in the Baylor in Maastricht program, where he went to teach basic journalism classes for a semester in the spring of 2009.

After seeing the study abroad program in action, he wanted to create a program specifically for the journalism department. He, alongside the department chair, the College of Arts and Sciences and an organization now known as Center for Global Engagement, a summer study abroad program was created in Florence, Italy. After five years in Florence, they decided to go somewhere other than Eastern Europe, where most of Baylor’s study abroad trips took place.

“We started to look at different places. I did some research. As it turned out, Budapest was perfect,” Parrish said. “I’d been there before on a mission trip in 1987 … so I knew Budapest a little bit. I thought, ‘Well, this will be a good place. It’s different, but it’s still modern.’”

After a site visit to Budapest, the department decided to partner with an organization there called Council on International Education Exchange. According to Parrish, “everything fell into place,” and they found that Budapest truly was a great fit for the program because of its unique, vibrant culture. On every trip, Parrish said they try to do something different, keeping it new and exciting for him, which benefits students because they feed off his enthusiasm.

Students left with advanced journalism skills because of writing assignments they published through Baylor’s Bundle magazine in “real time” and gained a higher appreciation for the culture. Guest lecturers spoke about Hungarian culture, and activities forced students out of their comfort zones as they went into the city and immersed themselves.

“I try to emphasize cultural awareness, cultural literacy. We are in a very different country, I want us to embrace it, I want us to learn from it. I don’t necessarily care if you are an expert on Hungarian culture … but I do want you to come away knowing that there are very different cultures in this world. People behave differently. People have different perspectives,”

Parrish said. “Our challenge as global citizens is to understand … that people … are different, [but] their motivations are just as sincere and honest as yours…. You don’t have to necessarily agree, but you do need to recognize … and be able to live with those differences.”

Parrish’s goals were achieved. Baylor in Budapest became a hallmark of the department. Students who have gone say the trip is more than learning about journalism. It’s about learning the culture and becoming a part of it. Clara Ruth West, South Carolina 2018 graduate, said one of her favorite parts of the trip in 2017 was getting to explore Hungary and familiarize herself with the culture.

“Honestly, Maxey Parrish was a huge, huge, huge piece of that as well because he had been there before. He had done it. It wasn’t new to him, so he was able to give us a lot of direction and guidance…. He encouraged us to step out of our boxes and do things that were unfamiliar but were also going to be really fun,” West said.

His impact on students lasts long after graduation. Annie Wilson Tam, 2004 English, French and Public Relations major, said, “Maxey probably never realized what an impact he had on me. He was one of the reasons I became a teacher shortly after graduation. He taught me that teaching is much more than talking about a subject you enjoy to a bunch of kids. It’s about believing in those kids and fighting for them. He also taught me that the mission field doesn’t have to be in a foreign country. It’s in the classroom.”

Parrish is admired by his colleagues as much as he is by his students, since he’s been a mentor to many other instructors and helped shaped the department into what it is today.

“Maxey’s important impact in our department cannot be overstated. He’s such a great colleague and mentor to many in this department,” Kevin Tankersley, senior lecturer, said.

Beloved Office Manager Retires May 14, 2021

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After 33 years of employment by Baylor University, JPR&NM Office Manager Margaret Kramer retired May 31.

“We are sincerely going to miss Ms. Kramer,” Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., said. “We thank her for all that she has done for Baylor University and for our department.”

During her 33 years at Baylor, Kramer worked for several administrators in different departments, including English and FDM/Communications.

“Margaret was my go-to person for EVERYTHING!” Baylor Director of Student Media Bruce Gietzen said. “If she didn’t already know the answer, she always connected me with the right person to find what I needed.  Plus, every time she had the department’s best interests in mind!”

Kramer is known for her caring personality, quick wit and bowl of chocolate that she constantly replenished for students, faculty and staff.

“We are thankful  for the laughter, the hard work, and the extremely good chocolate,” Moody-Ramirez said.

Kramer always treated everyone the same.

Her favorite quote was: “whether time, money, possessions, or words of faith and encouragement, we all have something to give that might just be the difference in the way someone else’s day — even someone else’s life — goes.”

“I had a sign over my office door that I could see from my desk. I put it there on purpose because I could read it and most people never noticed it,” she said. “It was a good reminder to me. I tried to treat others the way I would want someone to treat the people I care about and love.”

In in a fun-filled send off, the department sponsored a celebration for Kramer at the Baylor Club, where she was showered with an outpouring of love, gifts and tributes.

“Ms. Kramer was a ray of sunshine in the Journalism department and our biggest cheerleader,” Administrative Associate Lanisa Tovar said. “I wish her all the happiness and blessings in her retirement.”

Senior Lecturer Cassy Burleson remembers her as having a “listening heart.”

“Margaret, who never minded if I called her “MK” for short, solved problems pragmatically, often with a sense of humor,” she said. “She did kind deeds behind the scenes for faculty, staff and students. She’s way too young to be retiring, but it will be fun to see the mischief she gets into. I’m glad she’s my neighbor in Lorena and that our friendship will continue.”


–Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.

Graduate Program Director Presents at International Conference May 14, 2021

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Dr. Marlene Neill, APR, presented at this year’s International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) and won a top paper award.  Here are the details:

Employee Perceptions of Ethical Listening in U.S. Organizations” – International Public Relations Research Conference, March 4-6, 2021, Virtual Conference – Marlene S. Neill, Baylor University; Shannon Bowen, University of South Carolina. Acceptance rate 45%. Received University of Florida Employee Communication Research Award.

Neill also had a paper accepted for ICA:

“Barriers to PR Women’s Leadership Advancement: Current Situation and Anticipated  Changes,” International Communication Association Conference, May 27-31, 2021, Virtual Conference – Juan Meng, University of Georgia; Marlene S. Neill, Baylor University.

Alumnus Employed by New York Herald has Passed Away May 14, 2021

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Baylor Journalism alumnus Jonathan Lee Fulbright, 64, of Pecos, Texas, passed away on May 11, 2021.

Jonathan was a journalist employed by the New York Herald Tribune. Following in his dad’s footsteps, he earned a degree in journalism from Baylor University.

He went to work for The Pecos Enterprise in 1981 and remained there for 40 years. He became an integral and well-loved part of the community. Jonathan was known for writing on all aspects of the news, but he focused on the sports teams in the Pecos area. He was respected and loved by coaches and players alike.

He was preceded in death by his parents; 11 uncles; ten aunts; and one cousin.

He is survived by 14 Fulbright cousins and their families living in Texas, California, Colorado and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, along with a host of loved ones and friends.

Congratulations Class of 2021 May 13, 2021

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The Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media is excited to honor this year’s graduating seniors.
Congratulations class of 2021.

Robert F. Darden Honored as 2021 Piper Professor for State of Texas May 12, 2021

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Full-Size Image: Piper Professor Presentation
Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., presented Robert F. Darden with the certificate of merit recognizing him as a Piper Professor of 2021 for the state of Texas by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)

May 12, 2021

Award-winning journalism professor, founder of Black Gospel Music Restoration Project recognized for teaching excellence

WACO, Texas (May 12, 2021) – Robert F. Darden III, B.S.Ed. ’76, M.J., professor of journalism, public relations and new media, Master Teacher and founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University, has been honored as a Piper Professor of 2021 for the state of Texas by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation honors 10 professors per academic year across the state for their dedication to the teaching profession and for their outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. Each Piper Professor receives a certificate of merit, a gold pin and a $5,000 honorarium.

“To be nominated by the Baylor administration for this extraordinary award was, in itself, an incredibly humbling honor. But to be mentioned in the same breath as Baylor’s earlier Piper Professors – Rachel Moore, Bob Baird, Ray Cannon and Kent Gilbreath – is just a little this side of overwhelming,” Darden said. “I have been incredibly blessed to have had wonderful, life-changing teachers at Baylor. If I have been able to pass along even a little of their compassion and insight to my students through the years, then I have been truly blessed.”

Darden is an award-winning teacher, researcher and author, who has been widely cited, quoted and interviewed on a variety of topics in the international and national media. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including “Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City” (Penn State University Press, 2016) and “Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement” (Penn State Press, 2014).

Darden has received nearly all of the University’s teaching and research awards, including Outstanding Teacher, College of Arts & Sciences; Diversity Award (individually and with the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project); Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year award; Outstanding Researcher, College of Arts & Sciences; and the Master Teacher designation, Baylor’s highest honor for teaching excellence.

In recent years, the former newspaper journalist has been interviewed and featured by the BBC, several NPR programs, the PBS series “The Black Church: This is My Story, This is My Song” with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., and in numerous national media outlets. His essays, features, editorials and columns have appeared in The New York Times, The Oxford American, Christianity Today, The Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post and hundreds of others.

Darden was gospel music editor for Billboard Magazine from 1984 to 1998. He also was senior editor of The Wittenburg Door from 1988 to 2008.

He is the founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor, the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, scan, digitize, catalog and make accessible America’s fast-vanishing legacy of vinyl from gospel music’s “Golden Age.” The BGMRP provides the gospel music for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

Past Baylor faculty who have been recognized as Piper Professors include Charles G. Smith, 1960; Cornelia M. Smith, 1966; Daniel Sternberg, 1968; Glenn R. Capp, 1972; William J. Boswell, 1975; Robert L. Reid, 1978; Calvin A. Kent, 1988; Robert M. Baird, 1994; Raymond J. Cannon, 1997; Rachel H. Moore, 2003; and Larry Kent Gilbreath, 2007.

In Memory of Bill Hartman May 12, 2021

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By David McHam


I was working at The Houston Post in the summer of 1961 when Baylor approached me about teaching. As the discussions continued, someone suggested that I visit Fred Hartman to talk about the situation.

Hartman was the editor and publisher of The Baytown Sun. He was the leader of a group of journalists who had studied under Dr. Charles Johnson at Baylor in the late 1920s and early ’30s. He continued to be involved in the journalism program.

On a Friday, I made the trek from Houston to Baytown to meet with Hartman. He was delightful and our meeting went well. As noon approached, he asked the managing editor to take me to lunch.

The managing editor was James Hale, a Baylor journalism graduate and later the publisher of several major newspapers. Hale brought a young man along with us. His name was Bill Hartman.

Turns out that Bill was the incoming editor of The Baylor Lariat. The job Baylor was talking with me about included being the adviser to The Lariat.

Until then, no faculty member had ever been in that position.

Bill and I talked that day about what that arrangement entailed.

I told him I wouldn’t read copy or censor anything. He said my advice would be welcomed. What a wonderful way to start a relationship!

And that’s the way it was during my first year at Baylor, 1961-62.

My success at Baylor in the 1960s can be attributed to the way that Bill accepted me and the way we worked together. He set an example for others to follow.

By the way, at our first meeting, I was just about to turn 29, and he was just about to turn 21.

And we became friends. Not just casual friends, but real friends.

At some point, Carmage Walls had moved from Alabama and bought The Baytown Sun. He was very fond of Bill, and when Bill graduated, Walls bought a weekly newspaper in LaPorte for Bill to run. He also bought him a horse.

The Jefferson Standard, primarily an insurance company, bought The Beaumont Enterprise. These were two newspapers, morning and afternoon. They asked Walls to help them find an editor and publisher.

Walls suggested Bill Hartman. He was not yet 30. No one from the Jefferson Standard actually saw Bill in person. Until, that is, the first company meeting in Charlotte several months later. The Beaumont Enterprise was doing quite well, but the bigwigs at the insurance company were surprised at how young their editor was.

Eventually, Bill left Beaumont and bought a newspaper in Richmond/Rosenberg, The Fort Bend Herald. Then, one by one, he bought more papers, until the number reached 12.  When Bill’s sons, Fred and Lee, came of age, they joined the operation.

Fred, like his dad, was editor of The Baylor Lariat. Lee played golf. After a while, their sister, Elizabeth, joined them until she went into real estate.

Bill loved life and lived it fully. For years, he took the family to The Masters, even rented a house for them.  He was president of the Houston chapter of the major league baseball writers. He attended Colt .45s/Astros games from the inception of the team in 1962 until the Covid-19 pandemic.

And he owned horses until age caught up with him.

Bill broke his leg in early 2020. It was a leg he had first had trouble with when he was in high school. It didn’t heal in spite of two operations.

Then he fell again, and they discovered he had other problems.  He was in an assisted living facility in Sugar Land when he got pneumonia. He died on May 3. He would have been 80 this coming July.

For the last 20 years, we had lunch together as often as we could.

He never let me pay. At my birthday party a few years ago, Bill sneaked out and tried to pay for the whole thing. Luckily, that had already been taken care of.

He was a wonderful talker and a great storyteller. We enjoyed each other’s company. What started in the fall of 1961 lasted until 2021.

I am happy for our long friendship, but sad that it has come to an end.

Bill did leave an important gift to Baylor. Mr. Walls and he financed the Fred Hartman Chair in journalism, designed to bring a veteran journalist to teach and paying for them. It will be a legacy that lives on.

As will his memory.


A footnote: Bill graduated from Baylor in three years with a double major in business and journalism. That last summer, 1962, he needed a class in journalism the same time as a business class he had to take. In those days you simply wrote on a form; no computers to check you. So, I agreed to teach him editing by conference.  We met every day for lunch at George’s.  George’s was a restaurant across from the Baylor press on eighth street.

At the end of the summer, I gave him a “B” in the course. I don’t know why. Perhaps I had a reason at the time.  He was surprised.

About 10 years ago, Bill was invited to speak to the faculty of the journalism department. He started by saying that he was there to complain about the grade I had given him 50 years earlier.

In Memory of Louise Wood May 12, 2021

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By David McHam

Louise Wood was a joyful, inspiring, whirlwind of activity and ideas, said friends from her variety of careers and clubs packed into her 75 years that came to an end on March 29 because of COVID-19.

Wood, born Louise Later on Oct. 10, 1946, in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, grew up in Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class, her husband, Rush Wood, said. Rush Wood, who is recovering from COVID-19, was Cassy Burleson’s classmate in journalism at Sam Houston State.

In her varied career, Louise Wood began her newspapering days at the Waco Tribune-Herald in 1966 while attending Baylor University, where she graduated in 1971 with a degree in journalism.

She also served as “amusements editor” at the Austin American-Statesman before arriving at the Beaumont Enterprise in April 1972 to cover just about every news beat available before earning promotion to city editor,

And one day, she decided she’d had enough daily newspaper combat and quietly slipped out of the newsroom, emerging as her own boss in an advertising agency, working for another and landing again at Lamar University’s public relations office.

That’s where she retired a few years ago.

In Memory of Harry Marsh May 12, 2021

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By David McHam

Harry Marsh, Ph.D. was a very special person and one of the best people I had the opportunity to work with during my career.

He joined the Baylor journalism faculty in the 1960s and with Dave Chevens, Reba Campbell, Mike Stricklin and Ed Kelton helped make Baylor journalism one of the best programs in the nation.

No one brought the kind of experience that Harry had.  After graduating from Baylor, he worked, among other places, for the legendary Hodding Carter in Greenville, Mississippi.

He attended graduate school for journalism at Columbia and worked at both the New York Herald Tribune and The Daily News.

While at Baylor, he got his Ph.D. at the University of Texas. He and I worked together writing headlines at The Waco News-Tribune.

Marsh was a terrific teacher who left his mark on every student he met.

The words below are his obituary and how he wanted his life to be celebrated.


Harry Dean Marsh, Ph.D., died at the family home in Gallatin, Tennessee, April 4, 2021, age 93.

Marsh spent his childhood in the Big Bend desert of West Texas, born in the adobe parsonage of the Marfa Baptist Church and baptized by his father in Comanche Springs, Fort Stockton.

He earned university degrees from Baylor, Columbia and Texas at Austin. He served as a U.S. Army Signal Corps technician in West Germany during the Korean War.

Marsh pursued a career in journalism for 50 years. He reported, photographed and edited on newspaper staffs for 17 years, first on two small Texas papers, the Hillsboro Mirror and the Andrews County News, then on The Delta Democrat-Times at Greenville, Mississippi and the Birmingham News, and finally on two New York City papers, the Herald Tribune and the Daily News.

For the remainder of his career, he taught journalism at universities – Baylor, Arkansas and Kansas State, heading the departments at the latter two. He published books, monographs and articles in the field of mass communication. Immediately after retirement he taught part time at the University of North Carolina in Asheville.

Marsh said that the best thing he ever did was marry Ellie Bruton of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Their two children and spouses are William and Jennifer Marsh of Leesburg, Virginia, and Marti and Jason Kastner of Gallatin. They have four grandchildren: Isabelle, Daniel, Ellie and Josie.

Marsh volunteered at Sumner Regional Medical Center for ten years. He has been active in the Sumner County Democratic Party, serving as an assistant chairman, and he has been a trustee of First Presbyterian Church. He described the church as a loving fellowship supporting his faith and hope. As a continuation of his journalistic activity, he has submitted and had published about 50 letters to the editor in recent years.

Parrish Wins a “Betsy” May 12, 2021

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Each year, Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences presents “Betsy” awards — named in honor of retired Associate Dean Elizabeth Vardaman. The award is given to Baylor faculty members who excel in mentoring undergraduate students. This year, the College selected Baylor’s Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media Senior Lecturer Maxey Parrish as one of its honorees.

The award carries with it a $1,000 cash prize and trophy.

“Maxey is an outstanding mentor who works tirelessly,” said Baylor Journalism, Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., professor and chair.” He advises students, provides career counseling, and meets with prospective students and their parents on a regular basis. He has an open-door policy and is always available to work with students.”

Parrish serves on the College of Arts & Sciences committee headed by Lynn Wisely to recruit high-achieving high school students interested in studying topics related to climate change. He has helped recruit students during a virtual recruiting for several years.

Andy Hogue, Ph.D., associate Dean for Engaged Learning College of Arts & Sciences, who congratulated Parrish in an email, noted it is a privilege to call him a colleague.

His colleagues in the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations & New Media concur. They recognize and value his dedication to students.

“Maxey has been one of the most beloved, most respected professors at Baylor, virtually since his arrival on campus,” Professor Bob Darden said. “Parrish is known among students, faculty and staff as being an uncommonly compassionate, caring individual. His classes are popular and engaging — sprinkled with anecdotes from his long career in public relations. He’s quick to volunteer, eager to learn the new technologies, and a joy to be around.”

“Maxey has a servant’s heart as evidenced by his many contributions,” said Senior Lecturer Cassy Burleson.

Parrish holds several positions within the JPRNM department. He currently chairs the department’s Internships and Jobs Committee. He provides academic advising for senior students and is also collaborating with the entire department to provide materials for our upcoming accreditation site visit.

“In sum, Maxey has served faithfully on Baylor’s Faculty Senate and makes everyone he knows feel better for having known him,” Burleson added.

Parrish was humbled and honored to receive the prestigious award.

“Betsy Vardaman has always been an inspiration for the way she so passionately worked with students,” he said.  “To have my name associated with hers means more than I can say.”

Journalism Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez Honored as Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year May 12, 2021

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May 5, 2021

WACO, Texas (May 5, 2021)

Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., professor and chair of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University and a nationally recognized author and expert on race and culture, has been named the 2021 Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year.

The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award recognizes a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor through:

“The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year award is given to a professor who fosters a positive learning environment at Baylor through teaching, research and service. I am overjoyed that my colleagues saw fit to highlight my contributions to Baylor and to nominate me for this prestigious award. As we deal with social injustices and the pandemic, this is a monumental year to receive the award,” Moody-Ramirez said.

Moody-Ramirez’s research emphasizes mass media representations of women, minorities and other underrepresented groups, and her expertise on these topics has been featured in local, national and international media outlets. In the classroom, she teaches courses in public relations, research methods, and gender, race and media studies.

Moody-Ramirez’s published works include “From Blackface to Black Twitter: Reflections on Black Humor, Race, Politics & Gender,” “Race, Gender, and Image Repair Theory: How Digital Media Change the Landscape,” “Black and Mainstream Press’ Framing of Racial Profiling: A Historical Perspective” and “The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion, and Politics.” She has been published in several journals, including Public Relations Review, Journalism Educator and the Journal of Magazine & New Media Research. Her writing about media as an academic comes as a veteran of the media industry, having worked as a writer and columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald and as an editor and publisher for two magazines and a publishing company.

Beyond her rigorous teaching, research and mentoring students, she is active in her church and community organizations and participates in numerous University activities and committees, including most recently as a member of the Committee on Historic Campus Representations. She also has served as an officer for three divisions of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), was awarded the AEJMC’s Lionel Barrow Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Diversity Research and Education and was selected as one of nine fellows of the Institute for Diverse Leadership (IDL) in Journalism and Communication, also an AEJMC program.

Selection committee chair and Vice Provost James Bennighof, Ph.D., said Moody-Ramirez has achieved tremendous recognition from students and departmental peers in her teaching, research and service, which related to one another in a new and different way.

“I think it might be most revealing for us to observe how clearly Dr. Moody-Ramirez has been engaged in service through research and teaching,” he said. “Perhaps of greatest note, our honoree’s research and writing have been very directly and overtly oriented toward clarifying for all of us issues and situations that strike at the very core of our relationships with one another. She has written or co-written four books and about 30 articles, with the most distinctive element of the work addressing the ways that race is and has been depicted for widespread audiences in the media. All of this should make clear how the excellent work of Dr. Moody-Ramirez is obviously and crucially relevant to issues that stare all of us in the face on a daily basis, and thus provide an incalculable service.”

About Dr. Cornelia Marschall Smith

The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year honor was inaugurated in 2004 by the Office of the Provost and is named for Cornelia Marschall Smith, Ph.D., a 1918 Baylor biology graduate who earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1925 and her doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1928. She was a professor of biology at Baylor from 1940 to 1967, chair of the biology department from 1943 to 1967 and director of Strecker Museum from 1943 to 1967. She retired in 1967 but maintained an office in Armstrong Browning Library to assist charitable causes. In 1980, Baylor honored Smith with an endowed chair known as The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professorship in Biology. She was celebrated among her colleagues, students and alumni for fine teaching, generous mentoring and her many interdisciplinary interests. She was a lively and continuing contributor to the Baylor intellectual community until her death on Aug. 27, 1997, at age 101.

Past recipients of the award are D. Thomas Hanks (2004, English), Robert M. Baird (2005, Philosophy), Kevin Pinney (2006, Chemistry), Ann Rushing (2007, Biology), Wallace L. Daniel (2008, History), William D. Hillis (2009, Biology), Joyce Jones (2010, Music), Robert F. Darden (2011, Journalism), Roger E. Kirk (2012, Psychology and Neuroscience), William H. Bellinger Jr. (2013, Religion), Joseph A. McKinney (2014, Economics), David L. Jeffrey (2015, Great Texts); Johnny L. Henderson (2016, Mathematics), Alden Smith (2017, Classics), C. Stephen Evans (2018, Philosophy and Humanities), Gaynor I. Yancey (2019, Social Work) and Andrea Dixon (2020, Marketing).

This year’s selection committee included Vanessa A. Castleberry, Ph.D., senior lecturer of chemistry and biochemistry; Sandi Cooper, Ph.D., professor of curriculum and instruction and coordinator of the mathematics education program; Ann McGlashan, Ph.D., associate professor and division director of German and Russian languages; and Mark Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor of biology.

Baylor Distinguished Alumna Reflects on Baylor’s Impact on Her Life May 12, 2021

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By all accounts, Baylor journalism alumna Ella Wall Prichard is a pioneer. She is an outstanding writer, philanthropist, businesswoman and historian.

In this interview with Baylor Journalism, Public, Relations & New Media Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., Prichard discusses changes in journalism over the past 50 years, the importance of the Baylor alumni network, and how her degree prepared her for life.

Born in New Orleans in 1941, she grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas. With the encouragement of her English/journalism teacher and the local newspaper editor, she enrolled at Baylor University in 1959, where she served as editor of The Baylor Lariat in 1962. She graduated from Baylor University in 1963 with a degree in journalism. She had hoped to become a journalist; however, she abandoned those plans when she met Lev while working as a summer intern reporter at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 1962.

She has excelled in life partly because she is not afraid to take chances. She married her husband, Lev, five months after meeting him. She became the president of Prichard Oil Company after her husband passed away.

Over the years, she has found a myriad of ways to share her talent through church and community service: writing Sunday School curriculum for the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board (now LifeWay), and writing, editing and producing promotional materials for for-profit and nonprofit campaigns.

She later wrote Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows—inspired by the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The idea for a book to help other widows in their journey from grief to joy began to germinate during a trip to Nantucket in August 2013. The book was published by 1845 Books, an imprint of the Baylor University Press, in September 2018.

She served on the Board of Regents from 1992-2001. Just this year, she was named a 2021 Distinguished alumna of Baylor University.

Prichard has two children, Lev IV and Peggy, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“No question about it,” she said. “My family is the chief source of my joy. I count myself so lucky to live long adult to watch all the grandchildren reach adulthood. It’s a great time for me.”

Reflections on Baylor Journalism Alumna Who Covered Derby Day May 12, 2021

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By Louis Moore

Just recently, a female reporter on horseback with microphone in hand interviewed jockey Johnny Velasquez, a four-time Kentucky Derby winner, minutes after the horse he was riding, Medina Spirit, crossed the finish line ahead of the 18 other horses in the race.

I imagine the young woman had no idea that 51 years ago, another woman, my wife, Kay Wheeler Moore, Baylor Journalism, broke the gender barrier in the Derby’s sacrosanct all-male press room at Churchill Downs.

Kay, then a reporter for United Press International’s Louisville bureau, was drafted to be the first female reporter when she was granted press credentials to cover the 1970 Kentucky Derby. That was the first race in which another woman, Diane Crump, broke the gender barrier as the first female jockey ever in the Derby.

For a few breathtaking moments today, when Mandaloun, who came in second place, appeared to be overtaking Medina Spirit for first place, we thought history might be repeating itself. In 1970, underrated Dust Commander came from behind and took the Derby crown much to the astonishment of the crowd.

When Kay entered the hallowed press room for the first time and received her press credentials, it marked the end of nearly a century of white male dominance in the Derby press corps.

Amazing now how a seed that was planted 51 years ago has taken root and seems so natural today with female reporters darting everywhere at this year’s 147th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Below are a few photos documenting Kay’s journey.

We visited the Churchill Downs museum in August 2019 where I took this picture of Kay in front of the picture of Diane Crump, the first female jockey ever in the Kentucky Derby. Because of Diane, Kay was drafted by UPI to break the gender barrier in the all-male Churchill Downs Press Box for the 1970 Kentucky Derby.

Unimaginable in 1970, the video of the 1970 Kentucky Derby is online today and easily accessible to the public. Our granddaughter texted just before the Derby today that she had called up the 1970 Derby video to see what Kay and I had personally witnessed 51 years ago.

Our friend Karin Wiseman of Karinwisemancollection in downtown Garland used Kay’s memorabilia of that long ago Derby to fashion this beautiful necklace, which Kay wears every Derby Day.

This unidentified NBC TV reporter, left, probably never realized that the gender barrier in the all-male press corps at the Kentucky Derby was broken 51 years ago by retired Garland journalist Kay Moore, paving the way for dozens of female reporters today in the Derby press corps.

I snapped this photo of Kay in front of our TV today on which we watched the 147th Kentucky Derby. Kay remarked, “You realize they had not even celebrated their 100th Derby when we were there.” Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the 100th Derby.

Alumna Shares Messages of Hope for Teen Foster Children on TikTok May 12, 2021

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By Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D.

Brittany Burcham launched her first video on teen foster care in April, and she has since blown up on TikTok.

“TikTok is cool…sixty seconds is the longest you can effectively share a message, so you have to be creative,” said Burcham, who graduated from Baylor in 2007 with a degree in public relations and a minor in political science and world affairs. She is now a senior manager of franchise communications at Marriott.

Burcham became an emergency care foster parent in Alabama two years ago. She uses her social media skills to organize donations for emergency supplies for foster parents to give to children and to raise funds for movie days.

She became interested in focusing on teens after noticing that she was constantly getting calls asking her to take in teen girls for a night or two. People are more open to adopting or fostering babies, but not so much for teens, she said.

“Teens come into the office with trash bags,” she said. “This series provides insight into why you should foster teens instead of babies.”

Burcham’s informational videos on TikTok include adoption photo listings. “Foster the Teens” focuses on encouraging foster parents to foster teens. She says TikTok provides a cool opportunity to educate people.

“TikTok is a new medium for me,” she said. “Within about a week, one of my videos had 1.3 million views.”

Burcham had more than 17,000 followers in a little over a month.

Burcham has long been interested in helping others who are less fortunate. Amanda Sturgill, Ph.D., of Elon University, remembers taking Burcham and other students to Kenya on a Baylor vocational mission trips in the early 2000s.

“She used her journalism skills to, among other things, tell the stories of an orphanage for babies and toddlers orphaned by HIV/AIDS,” Sturgill said.

“TikTok is an incredible medium for more than goofy dancing. It has a powerful way of bringing people in than just pictures. It plays with ability to connect with people,” Burcham said.

The link to Burcham’s TikTok profile is  https://www.tiktok.com/@fostertheteens