6 Baylor Bears bringing a little light into others’ lives
In this blog, we write a lot about the outstanding achievements of Baylor Bears: the academic honors, the national trophies, the alumni who become household names. And yes, these things are important. But there are also those who use the everyday moments of life to bring a little light to their own corners of the world; we’re proud that those people, too, are members of the Baylor Family.
We call these Bears “Baylor Lights“; here are just a few we’ve had the privilege of meeting this year:
Charlie Winkley, May 2018 graduate (music education)
“There’s a friend and coworker of mine named Scott. He was supposed to student-teach this semester, but he found out early this year that he was diagnosed with cancer, which is awful. It was really cool to see the community surround him, because the School of Music is smaller than a lot of other sections at Baylor, so it can be a tight-knit community sometimes.
“He has to do chemo treatments. He’s a trombone player, and the trombone studio all went into their professor’s office and shaved their heads together to show support for him, which was really cool.
“I saw that from Fort Worth, and it inspired me. Since Scott wasn’t getting a chance to have his own students this semester, I made a poster and my choir students, almost 300 of them, all wrote really sweet notes. It was a really cool thing, showing them the importance of relationships and caring for people. I got to take it to Scott the last time I was in town. I went to the oncology center and I took it to him while he was having a treatment. It was him and his dad. It was really cool — just a cool way to give him a little boost.”
Arielle Van-Mballa, May 2018 graduate (political science)
“I came from a low-income background. They didn’t really emphasize college, so I didn’t think ‘After high school, I’m going to go to college.’ When I was in high school and I started to get put into AP classes, I was like, wow, this is really attainable. I started noticing how much my mom suffered just to get herself through school and us through school — it’s kind of like I went to school for her. Because she had me when she was in college. She didn’t finish because she had me, and I felt like this is kind of my testament to her. This is for her.
“It’s really important to tell the stories of first-generation immigrants, first-generation American children, because you really feel… I think I understand now what my mom went through just for me to come here, just to go to college. I really didn’t understand, as a kid, the sacrifices she made just for me. … There would be times where she wouldn’t eat, just so I could eat. That type of thing. So many sacrifices. … My mom came to this country from Cameroon in 1991 — didn’t have a dollar to her name when she came here — and all she wanted to do was make sure she had something for me. I feel like graduating from college is my gift for her.”
Dr. Julie Anne Sweet, Baylor history professor
“When people ask me what I do, I say I tell stories for a living, both as a teacher and a scholar. I have to remind my students that when I tell them about some of the outrageous people and events from history, that they really happened that way. I am not creative enough to make those stories up!
“I think about that verse where we are admonished not to hide our light, or talent, under a bushel. My light, or talent, is to teach, and so I use my light to teach people about history, its stories and its lessons. I have to admit, though, there are times I would love to hide that light under a bushel because it’s a lot of work to prepare all those lesson plans. In the end, I pray for guidance and assistance to do the best I can and know that He will show me the way.”
Dylan Pflum, junior pre-psychology major
“When you have a panic attack, it seems like the only thing you can see are those bad things that happened in your life. There are good things that happened to you, too.
“One of my friends has a history of panic attacks. A lot of times when she has those, she needs to get her mind off of it and laugh about things that aren’t related to the panic attacks. I try to go to her, lift her up and take her mind off of things — find things we can both relate to and that we’ve both gone through and remind her of those good times.”
Nicole Young, May 2018 graduate (biology)
“My sophomore year I really struggled with depression and anxiety; I had lost friends that I thought were going to be best friends forever, and then my grades started slipping. It was like this downhill pattern of just not feeling like I was enough and not feeling like I’d ever reach this huge dream that I’d come all the way to college for…
“One of my bosses [at Baylor] really stuck out to me as a woman of God who was just solid in her faith. So, one day I was just bawling in her office for about the 10th time. I asked her, ‘Holly, can you be my mentor for the rest of the time I’m here?’, and she automatically said, ‘Yes, I would love to.’ It was just so encouraging that someone would step up to the plate for me and with me and walk through the rest of that hard, hard year with me, would not shame me in any way, and would be super patient even when I myself wanted to stay 10 steps back. So, she’s been amazing, and such an igniter for how I love God, and how I’ve continued to grow into this senior year and this last stage of my life.
“That was a rough year, but then after asking Holly to walk with me in that transition, I just realized in that moment, in my deepest moment, who God really was. She showed me a devotional by Oswald Chambers. In one of his devotionals he’s talking about the Mountain of Transfiguration when he takes Peter, James and John and basically tells them they weren’t meant for a life on the mountaintop, but in the valley. Then everything just made sense. It made sense that it’s ok to struggle with depression and anxiety; that’s where we find each other most, it’s where we find God the most. So after that, my relationship with the Lord just clicked and fell deeper and deeper into love.”
Ky Mahler, May 2018 graduate (accounting/taxation)
“My sophomore year, I was in a moped accident, and I was in the ICU for several days. After I got hit, a Baylor religion professor was there at the scene, and he came and supported me the whole time. He took care of me before the ambulance got there, and then after I was taken to the hospital, he sent me and my parents a care package full of books and letters of encouragement and some gift cards to local restaurants and continued to stay in touch, writing letters and saying ‘Hey, is he doing okay?’ and things like that. He was certainly a big help, and of course, all of my friends too. Every single one of my friends came and visited me in the hospital, made sure I was okay, and helped me a whole lot, because I couldn’t drive for a little while because it just hurt to get into a car. People really rallying around me and helping me out was really helpful.
“My roommate also had a bad accident, and he had to drop out of school for a semester, which set him back a full year. After it initially happened, the doctors told him he might never run or jog again, because he had severed his Achilles tendon and all this stuff. He lived on the second floor, so we moved all of his stuff to the first floor and swapped roommates. Me and my group of friends did our best to keep him encouraged, motivated and positive, because he was really down on himself and didn’t know what he was going to do because he was like ‘My life is going to be altered forever; I’m physically handicapped now.’ So we pushed him, and he pushed himself, and now he can run again.”
Read more profiles like these here.
Sic ’em, #BaylorLights!