• Graduation weekend shines spotlight on a Bear’s fighting spirit

    Ashley BrownThe Baylor family celebrated its 2,000 or so newest alumni over the weekend as the Ferrell Center (and, in the case of Truett Seminary, First Baptist Waco) hosted spring commencement exercises. (Click here for a graduation photo gallery.) Each and every one of the graduates worked hard to earn their degrees, but perhaps none had more obstacles to overcome than the School of Social Work’s Ashley Brown (pictured).

    To finish her master’s degree, Brown had to fight through kidney failure for the second time in her life. At age 17, a routine check-up found one of her kidneys was failing; her mother proved a suitable donor, and the operation has allowed her to carry on with her life for the past 10 years. Last fall, however, familiar symptoms returned, and doctors began to look for another donor.

    All the while, Brown continued to work towards earning her MSW, holding a 35-hour-a-week internship and working with classmates on final projects, even when it was only via Skype from a hospital bed. She made her final presentation May 4, walked across the Ferrell Center stage last Saturday, and will undergo a nine-hour surgery tomorrow. Nevertheless, the spirit that has led her to persevere through health problems for much of her life carries her forward; she’ll spend the summer recovering, but already has feelers out for job opportunities in the social work world where she can help others.

    (This short version of Brown’s story really only scrapes the surface of what she’s been through; for her full story, please read this piece put together by the School of Social Work.)

    Sic ’em, Ashley and all our May graduates!