Here’s to you, Baylor

After moving back from New York, I headed to stay in Waco for the week prior to graduation. I expected my street to have it’s usual busyness: people constantly on the sidewalk and our porch, cars flying by with sonic cups hanging out the windows, and the guys next door blaring Lynard Skynard. But to my surprise, it wasn’t like that at all. All of the undergrad students had headed home for summer, and all that remained were me and my gals and our class.

The quietness and calmness of my porch swing at dusk gifted me the opportunity of reflecting on all of the ways Baylor has cultivated me; the way I carry myself, the way my mind works and the condition of my heart. If you’ve ever spoken to a Baylor alum or current student, I think we all say the same things about our university. “There’s really no place like Baylor,” or, “I left my heart in Waco,” or, “Actually, I like Waco,”… I mean…Where else can you get free Dr. Pepper floats, play tennis, see live bears on campus, have Chick-fil-A and buy every Heisman t-shirt imaginable within about 15 yards of each other!?! BUT. In comparison of what this university and it’s people have done to challenge, grow and condition me for this world, those amenities are miniscule. I’m a passionate believer in worth, purpose and continual forward progress in all aspects of life. And things, objects, and tangibles that the world brings do not contribute to progression. The catalyst for authentic improvement and passionate persistence are derived from the core of your being, and the people that have helped in contouring your zeal for life.

In a society where everything is changing, it’s inevitable that to ‘stay with the pack’, a person or organization must grit their teeth and make adjustments – no matter what. Technology, social media, job markets, ways of competing, strategies for forward progress: they’re all constantly evolving – and consequently, weeding out the laggers. A common ‘mistake’, if you will, in this ongoing process, is altering the core of your being to keep up with society.

To be yourself in a society that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enter Baylor. My four years at Baylor was an era where I watched the entire eclipse of the process. Thousands of students and I witnessed Baylor be bold. Making moves. Making changes. But Baylor didn’t take these leaps to stay with the pack: she jumped up front and said, “I’ll lead”.

I’ll reflect on our athletic program, since that’s where I devoted my studying, time and attention. I have to believe that for this 2011-2012 school year, Baylor is the hottest athletic program in the country. But it wasn’t by mere chance. I wrote in an earlier post regarding the rapid change in Baylor’s football program over the course of four short seasons. Producing a Heisman winner didn’t come by chance. It didn’t come by doing what other schools or programs did. But  Briles made changes in order to produce different results. The vision for change comes from an inner desire to be loyal to the university while lovingly making bold changes at the same time. And when the nation started scratching their heads and peering into campus, quickly recognized the authenticity of Baylor.

I have been blessed enough to spend the most revolutionary, exciting and memorable era at Baylor in many years. The people I have worked and studied alongside are on the move, headed for success and happy. There is an inner peace and contentment knowing that the people surrounding me are supporting my every move. I am confident that my best friends, coworkers, classmates and professors will rejoice with me when I succeed, help me up when I’m down and walk with me through life. Baylor fam.

So to the professors who listened to me spill about my dreams for so many of your after hours – thank you for realistically preparing me, yet still encouraging me for my future. To the SID’s and coaches – your loyalty and faithfulness is the backbone of our program, and the success ultimately rests on your love for this university. Thank you for giving us an example of dedication paying off. To my late night hoopers – I always felt like I was wearing #15 on my back, and each time I got knocked down after a long day made me better – thanks for physically pushing me. (And to the people working out next to me in the SLC – we were always competing whether you knew it or not.) To my friends and classmates – you showed me what community and love and support looks like… at all times. Thank you for a beautiful picture of service and support. And to everyone coming to, going from or just passing by: join me in thanking Baylor for so earnestly chasing after success while still remaining true to the foundational beliefs as an institution. Thank you, Baylor, for displaying to me the most beautiful portrait of success imaginable.

More on Baylor’s hottest year in athletics, ever: Ian McCaw Should Be AD of Year / BU Athletic Program Hits the Big Time / Baylor Sports Revival / For Baylor, Business is Finished / Baylor sees rise in applications  / Baylor has made a remarkable rise in redemption