Meet 12 Baylor women who have made names for themselves in the arts
When Baylor was chartered in 1845, it was one of the first coeducational colleges or universities west of the Mississippi River — about 10 years before any public institution of higher learning would introduce mixed-gender learning, and a full 75 years before American women were guaranteed the right to vote.
Since that groundbreaking beginning, countless women have come through the halls of Baylor before going on to do amazing things. Here’s a look at some Baylor Bears who have made names for themselves in the arts — locally, nationally and internationally:
Dr. Roxy Grove (AB 1908) was chair of the newly-reorganized Baylor School of Music following World War I.
You very likely recognize her name from Roxy Grove Hall, a 500-seat concert hall in Waco Hall. In the two decades between graduating from Baylor with two music degrees and serving as the school’s chair, she earned three more music degrees, studied under a renowned pianist and Beethoven specialist, did missionary work, served as a nurse during World War I, and performed around the world. (During that world tour, she spent two weeks helping a family in need in Canada; that family’s descendants still remember her as their family’s “angel of mercy.”)
Dr. Dorothy Scarborough (BA 1896, MA 1899) was a noted teacher, writer and folklorist who taught Baylor’s initial journalism courses, the first in the Southwest.
Scarborough was known for her interest in American folklore and her early feminist writings. Her research on black folk songs was published several times: “On the Trail of Negro Folksong,” “In the Land of Cotton,” “Can’t Get a Red Bird,” and “The Strawberry Smile.” She was also a prolific author, publishing collections of poetry and folk songs, monographs, and short stories. But Scarborough’s most famous work by far is her novel The Wind — the story of a young woman who moves to the West Texas town of Sweetwater, discovers the wind there never stops, and sees how the constant blowing affects the women of the community. It was later made into a movie starring Lillian Gish, another early feminist and one of the first actresses to produce a movie.
Bess Whitehead Scott (BA 1912) was one of the first female news reporters in Houston.
When World War II broke out, Scott was a 25-year-old high school English and Latin teacher in Houston, but her sights were set elsewhere. Specifically, she wanted to write for the Houston Post — a job that, at the time, was limited to only men. But by pointing out that men would likely be away at war during the next few years, she managed to talk her way into a trial-run position. That initial two-week run made Scott the Post’s first female reporter and marked the beginning of her 77-year career in journalism, during which she covered the Galveston floods of 1915, the Democratic Convention of 1928, and interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and Clark Gable. In 1992, at age 102, Scott was recognized by Baylor as a Distinguished Alumna, and two years later she was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
Shelley Giglio (BBA ’86) co-founded the Passion Movement (known for its annual gathering of young adults), serves as chief strategist for the sixstepsrecords label, and serves on Baylor’s Board of Regents.
The Passion Movement was officially founded in 1995, but traces its history back to the Baylor campus in the 1980s when she and her husband Louie were students. Today, more than 50,000 people a year attend Passion events to hear speakers such as Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, and Lecrae, and to be led in worship by artists such as Chris Tomlin, Baylor alum David Crowder, Christy Nockels and Kari Jobe. In 2015, the Giglios were honored by the Gospel Music Association for their work with the organization.
Candice Millard (MA ’92) is one of America’s top authors of popular history.
Millard’s first book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a Book Sense Pick, won the William Rockhill Nelson Award and was a finalist for the Quill Awards, and has been printed in Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean, as well as a British edition. In total, Millard has written three New York Times bestsellers (including Amazon’s No. 1 history book for 2016).
Angela Kinsey (BA ’93) needs no introduction to any sitcom fan of the last 20 years. From 2005-13, she played the Emmy-winning role of Angela Martin on The Office.
While at Baylor, she was involved in Chi Omega, played intramural softball, attended plenty of football games, and had her own favorite study spots in Armstrong Browning Library and Carroll Science Hall. Her professors knew her as quite the opposite as “Angela Martin” — perky, outgoing and spontaneous. Her social media followers (of which there are more than 1 million) see that side of her every day through her love of Target, her friendship with Jenna Fischer (who played the role of Pam Beesly on The Office), and her sense of humor with running jokes from the series. And of course, she’s still a Baylor fan through-and-through!
Richelle Carey (BA ’95) is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has anchored for CNN, HLN, Al Jazeera America and Al Jazeera English.
Carey is a tireless advocate for women. She’s served on the boards of groups like Men Stopping Violence and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and frequently uses her fame to bring attention to issues affecting women. For example, while a news anchor at CNN, she covered high profile domestic violence cases such as Chris Brown and Rihanna, challenging people to shift from victim-blaming thoughts like “Why is she with him?” to “Why is he hitting her?” Today in her role as news anchor for Al Jazeera English, she hosts experts from around the globe to discuss hot-button issues like Brexit, U.S. involvement in the Yemen War, and political tensions between France and Italy.
Channing Godfrey Peoples (BA ’99) is an award-winning screenwriter and director who broke out in 2020 with the release of her first feature, Miss Juneteenth.
The Baylor theatre graduate was named one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Film” in 2018, and both wrote and directed her feature debut based on her childhood fascination with the Miss Juneteenth pageant in her native Fort Worth. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 as one of only 16 selections in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category, won the Lone Star Award as the best Texan film at the South by Southwest Film Festival the same year, and was nominated for best independent motion picture at the NAACP’s Image Awards.
Joanna Gaines (BA ’01) starred on HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper and oversees the growing Magnolia line of products and restaurants.
Gaines’ background in communications at Baylor — including television and radio experience and a New York internship at 48 Hours with Dan Rather — helped her get comfortable in front of the cameras for HGTV, as did filming local television commercials for her father’s Waco business, Jerry Stevens Firestone. In 2012, her personal blog got the attention of producers at HGTV, and the rest is history. Two decades after graduation, Gaines is widely celebrated for using her national platform to bring a positive spotlight to Waco and Baylor, expanding the Magnolia brand into Magnolia Market, Silos Baking Co., Magnolia Table, the Magnolia Network, a paint line, a furniture line, several books, and more.
Allison Tolman (BFA ’04) is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated TV and film actress.
Tolman’s breakout role came in the televised version of Fargo, based on the 1996 movie, for which she earned multiple award nominations. Since then, she has starred in films such as Krampus and The House as well as the ABC drama Emergence. You may have also seen her in one of her appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, Good Girls, Prison Break and other shows.
Kara Killmer (BFA ’10) is another alumna actress on the rise.
Killmer is best known for her seven seasons (and counting) as Sylvie Brett on NBC’s Chicago Fire, a role she landed just four years after graduating from Baylor. As the show’s universe has expanded into spinoffs Chicago P.D., Chicago Med and Chicago Justice, so has her role. She’s also known for her lead role as Charlotte Holloway in the film Beyond the Mask.
Patricia Shih is an internationally known violinst — and a Baylor School of Music professor since 2019.
After giving her first public performance at the age of four, Shih’s career has taken her to such stages as Carnegie Hall in New York and London’s Wigmore Hall as she performed with such leading orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic in England and the Mexico National Symphony. As she matured, she realized she wanted to be able to share what she’s learned with others — and that desire to teach led her to Baylor University.
These are just a handful of the countless Baylor women who have made (and who continue to make) their marks in the arts. Of course, there’s not enough room (even on a blog) to list every notable Baylor woman; if there’s someone you think particularly deserves to be honored, please let us know!
Sic ’em, Bears!
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