Still Proud To Be A Bear

August 24, 2004

I was on pins and needles. I was a high school senior and was eagerly awaiting news from Baylor. As a prospective piano performance major, I had not yet been admitted to the School of Music, and I was holding my breath until I found out what the verdict would be. My dad asked me if I felt God leading me to Baylor, and I had to say yes. Dad reminded me that my education was in God's hands. As it turned out, I was both accepted and offered a music scholarship. But that was just the beginning of a journey.
I remember what it was like to be a scared freshman. That was my first real experience of being on my own, and I was going through a huge adjustment. I remember the difficulties, but I also see it as the beginning of a good time and a definite time of maturing. 
My sophomore year carried with it fresh challenges and blessings alike. And then in the midst of that, tragedy struck. Along with other students, faculty and alumni, I was grieved that our basketball coach had been dishonest and that one of my fellow Bears would always be missing from among our ranks. To say that his death was a horrible event would be quite an understatement. 
But that was not all. With it came a wave of finger-pointing and ugly accusations that built up no one. This never should have been the case. Our administration is making an effort to make good choices, and we should pray that God will guide them. We also should stop and ask ourselves, "Is this truly a representation of Baylor, or just something bad that happened to a Baylor student?" 
When the news hit the press, I constantly was being asked: "Does this make you feel differently about Baylor?" My answer is a resounding "No!" When I think of Baylor, I don't think about someone waving a gun, because it isn't that kind of place. We aren't charmed, and bad things can happen here as well as anywhere else, but we have an overall environment in which we can trust one another. When I consider my Baylor experience, there are very positive aspects that come to mind.
I think about the professors who underscored the importance of integrity. I think particularly of my mentor and piano professor, Jane Abbott-Kirk. She has encouraged me, and she has taught me that no experience in which I make an effort should be considered a failure but always as an opportunity to learn. 
I think, too, of the friendliness that pervades our campus. Especially present in my thoughts are my friends. They aren't perfect, because none of us is. But they all have stood by me in times when I needed someone, and they forgive me my fallibility. They laugh with me and share my burdens. They help me in serious work and are around for times that are just fun. In this circle, we represent the Baylor community, which always seems large enough for one more, but never so big that a new person is not good enough. That also includes an unusual unity and sense of identity; instead of just having a bear for a mascot, we call ourselves Bears!
So, do I still think God led me to Baylor? Absolutely. I wouldn't miss this ride for the world. In June, I felt this even more strongly when I attended an event held by the music school. Friends hugged me, exchanged pleasant chatter and told me how they had missed me. I felt I had come home. I know I'm a Bear, and I'm proud of it!

Tipton is a junior piano performance major in the School of Music. Her father, uncles, aunt and some cousins all attended Baylor.