Ian Buchanan, Speech Communications And Religion, '03: student profile

July 17, 2002

Unlike many of his peers, Ian Buchanan entered college knowing exactly what he wanted to do in life. What he couldn't have known was how much practice he'd have at it by graduation.
Buchanan, a speech communications major and religion minor who will graduate in May 2003, has known for many years he wanted to pursue full-time Christian ministry. During his sophomore year at Baylor, a friend told him about Community Youth Development, an after-school and weekend program sponsored by Mission Waco that reaches out to at-risk teens in the city. The program needed volunteers and Buchanan was happy to give it a try.
"I fell in love with it," says Buchanan, who works at least 15 hours a week with the teens. After-school tutoring sessions, small group meetings and basketball games fill up his time. "For me, this isn't a job, it's a lifestyle," he says.
As with most volunteer work, the benefits are reciprocal. Buchanan recalls the week he accompanied several of the young men he mentors to the Fifth Ward, a low-income Houston neighborhood undergoing restoration.
The Waco teens, who come from challenging neighborhoods themselves, recognized an even greater need among the people of the Fifth Ward, Buchanan says.
"We went to homeless shelters -- places where people couldn't afford their next meal. It allowed them to see that they weren't as bad off," he says of his group. "They stopped worrying about their concerns and started worrying about other people's."
That experience brought a blessing of unexpected proportions to him, he says, confirming what he believed about his future long before coming to Baylor. 
"I don't even have a choice," he says about sharing his life and faith with other people. "It's who God created me to be."