• Incoming freshman surprised with a full-tuition scholarship to Baylor University

    Daniela Perez is a senior at C.C. Winn High School in Eagle Pass, Texas — 140 miles west of San Antonio, right on the U.S./Mexico border. She’s on track to graduate in the top 5% of her class, has SAT scores in the top 10% nationwide, is the president of her school’s Health Occupations Students of America club, and — inspired by her younger sister’s diabetes diagnosis — plans to major in biochemistry on the pre-med track.

    Not surprisingly, she’s been accepted to Baylor for the Class of 2022; when she starts classes this fall, she’ll be the first in her family to attend college. With that kind of resume, it was likely that she’d be awarded at least some kind of scholarship. But like so many college students nationwide, she’d been struggling to figure out how to pay the remainder of her tuition. That all changed this weekend.

    As part of a campus visit, she attended Saturday’s Baylor-Kansas men’s basketball game, where she learned she’d been selected to play a game on the court during a time out. Backstage, she was told she’d be blindfolded, spun around, then play a “hot and cold” challenge, where the audience would help her find a swag bag of Baylor Nike gear. Meanwhile, the audience was told what would really happen: instead of swag, she’d find Baylor President Linda Livingstone standing there with a full-tuition scholarship.

    I challenge you to watch this video and not shed a tear:

    “You have accomplished so much in high school as a student and a leader, and we’re so proud of you,” President Livingstone told Daniela once she found the “prize.” “We’re so proud that you want to come to Baylor. We have had some wonderful members of our alumni family that want to make sure that your light will shine bright at Baylor next year, and so we have something special for you today.

    “Because of your accomplishments, you have been selected to receive a full tuition, four-year scholarship to Baylor University.”

    You can just see the wind knocked out of Daniela as she fully realizes what President Livingstone had just said. The crowd goes crazy, cheering for this future Baylor Bear who wasn’t sure her dream could ever be reality. Down the court appeared her family, who had no idea this was going to happen, either. Daniela nearly sprinted to them for a tear-inducing embrace, as the Golden Wave Band started up “When The Saints Go Marching In” in celebration.

    Full tuition scholarships don’t just happen; in Daniela’s case, it came from funds left to Baylor 50 years ago by an individual’s estate that established the Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCaslin Scholarship, awarded to deserving Baylor students on a merit and need basis. The McCaslins chose to support students by establishing a legacy gift, while many others do so through one-time gifts. Every little bit helps — forever changing the lives of students like Daniela.

    Sic ’em, Daniela!

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