There is a Line
That Good Old Baylor Line joins the Baylor Family across the state from Baylor's Waco campus to its Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas
According to Google Maps, it’s exactly 96.7 miles from the center of Baylor University’s campus in Waco to its Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas. The line that connects the two destination points on a map, however, is much more than the mere layers of concrete and asphalt that comprise Interstate 35. The Line — that Good Old Baylor Line — that joins the Baylor Family near and far also joins these two campuses, representing the founding purpose of a University that integrates academic excellence and Christian commitment to help students discover their calling and serve as leaders around the globe.
Baylor nursing majors begin their Baylor experience like most other incoming first-year students. Some enter college knowing exactly what they want to study, while others explore their options through introductory classes. From Orientation and advising to Line Camp, Welcome Week and the on-campus living experience, the University goes above and beyond to help new students find their place and feel like they are truly a part of the Baylor Family. In fact, Baylor has consistently been recognized for its student experience in recent years. In the fall, U.S. News ranked Baylor 10th for first-year experiences, and The Wall Street Journal ranked Baylor fourth for student engagement.
“I started out majoring in nursing. As I took more and more of the classes, I discovered that this is actually what I really love to do.”
“We value the time our nursing students spend on the Waco campus in their first two years. In Waco, they learn how to be college students — they grow spiritually, socially and emotionally, preparing them for the academic rigor of our nationally recognized nursing program,” Linda Plank, B.S.N. ’77, Ph.D., dean of Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing, said. “The emphasis that Baylor places on community connection, academic inquiry and faith formation, is extended through our programs when undergraduate nursing students transition to Dallas to complete the final two years of their degree.”
Kyle Pyron is coordinator for pre-nursing. It’s his job to welcome and advise students in Waco who have a general interest in nursing or have declared it as a major. He also orients first- and second-year students to the nursing program and helps ensure a smooth transition to the Dallas campus for their remaining two years, which at LHSON are broken down into four semesters with each semester representing sequential levels one through four.
“When I talk with students before they even arrive in Waco for the first time in the fall, the advice I try to give them is to get involved, to make the most of their time on the Waco campus making connections and know that experience extends even when you go to Dallas. I think because they have done that, they’re much more prepared to transition to the Nursing School in their third year as level ones,” Pyron said.
According to Pyron, pre-nursing students transition well from the Waco campus experience to living and learning in Dallas due to the intentional community that pre-nursing students build through their discipline-specific New Student Experience (NSE) course. These courses are often taught by graduate faculty who live in Waco and primarily teach their graduate courses in LHSON’s online graduate program.
“All Baylor students take an NSE class. Part of the requirement of our NSE pre-nursing course is that students make a trip to the nursing school and experience what it’s like to be a student on that campus. For many of them, that’s the first time they’ve seen the Dallas campus and met with the LHSON faculty and staff,” Pyron said. “They also get to talk to some of the students about their transition and see that other students have done it — and done it successfully. From my perspective, that visit either really does help galvanize them and make them more excited about the profession and going to Dallas or it helps clarify for others that they need to pursue a major that might be a better fit.”
Ethan Kigozi, a level three nursing student from Houston, is one of the students who was energized to pursue nursing by his experiences on the Waco campus and in his pre-nursing classes. Initially, it was a meaningful connection during a campus tour that drew him to Baylor. Kigozi had a general interest in studying biology and, as a prospective student, prayerfully considered what to focus on for his vocation.
“When I toured Baylor, I was talking to some people, and we just talked about biology for hours. I remember thinking, ‘If people like this are at Baylor, then I would love to come here,’” he said.
When he enrolled in his first-year classes, Kigozi selected the pre-nursing track because of how nursing combined his love of biology with his love for people.
“I started out majoring in nursing. As I took more and more of the classes, I discovered that this is actually what I really love to do. I guess I was blessed in that aspect where I didn’t have to switch majors or keep searching around, but I picked the first major, it spoke to me, and I’ve loved it ever since,” Kigozi said.
Even though he brought in enough credits from high school to expedite his pre-nursing studies and time in Waco down to one year, Kigozi followed the advice of his fellow students and advisors like Pyron and made the most of his first-year experience by forming meaningful friendships with students outside of his major and making a habit of attending home football games whenever possible.
“In terms of community in Waco, I definitely feel like I’m still connected there. It’s just about making the effort to be connected. Nursing school is hard. Our schedules are full, and we can’t go to Waco every week or even every month. But it’s important for me to keep up with friends there,” Kigozi said. “I still talk to people every day and I still drive down Waco to visit or attend the football games — it’s only an hour and 20 minutes away. It’s worth it to me because of the deep relationships, because these can be people that I’ll end up hanging out with for the rest of my life.”
Community is so important to Kigozi that he quickly got involved in student activities at LHSON. He serves as co-president of the Multicultural Student Nurses Association and as president of his cohort.
“A big part of my role as president is to create community through events and service,” he said. “Whether it’s through our class volleyball tournament, movie nights, Dr Pepper Hour, Bible study or a toiletry drive for people in need in Dallas, connection with one another and serving people by showing them the love that Jesus Christ has for me is as important as my classwork.”
Rigor and Research
Along with an investment in community and service, Baylor’s commitment to undergraduate research opportunities is extended to the Nursing School as well. Connie Tran, a level four nursing student from Cypress, Texas, is one student who has taken advantage of these opportunities. Tran was selected to assist her mentor and faculty advisor, Lina Nguyen, Ph.D., with research projects concerning Vietnamese Americans and diabetes. As a Vietnamese American who has diabetes in her family, Tran has a personal connection to the topic, making the opportunity especially meaningful for her education.
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Connie Tran (left), level four nursing student from Cypress, Texas, and mentor and faculty advisor, Lina Nguyen, Ph.D.
“I really want to learn more about Type 2 diabetes because my mom and my grandparents are diagnosed with it. So, I really do want to learn more about that in order to help my family and spread the word about how this disease often goes undiagnosed in this understudied population,” Tran said. “Through research, I can also learn how to become a better nursing student in order to provide the most efficient and effective patient care in the clinical setting.”
Not only did Tran have the opportunity to conduct research, she also returned to the Waco campus to present her research through Baylor’s Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) initiative during URSA Scholar’s Week.
“Through research, I can also learn how to become a better nursing student in order to provide the most efficient and effective patient care in the clinical setting.”
“Getting to present in-person at Scholar’s Week was so fun because I had to step out of my comfort zone and present my research for approximately 12 minutes, and I had a three to five minute question and answer session at the end of my presentation,” Tran said. “What was exciting about this event was that Dr. Nguyen got to be there to support me and she got to see my presentation and give me good feedback.”
Tran says her academic experience is unique to Baylor.
“Nursing school is really challenging, but it is certainly doable with hard work and good time management skills. With daily prayer, self-belief, keeping a positive mindset and having friends and faculty who are there to cheer me on, I feel great knowing that I have people who can support and encourage me along the way. I love everything about Baylor.”
Faith in Practice
While a caring community or research opportunities might be what initially draws some students to Baylor and ultimately Baylor’s LHSON, the commitment to integrating faith into the educational experience was a key factor in Carolyn Moseman’s decision to attend. As the daughter of a Baylor religion faculty member who grew up in Waco and around Baylor, Moseman was familiar with the Waco campus through the events she attended such as Christmas on 5th, Pigskin and Sing. It wasn’t until her junior year in high school when she took an official campus tour as a prospective nursing student that Moseman truly considered Baylor for her undergraduate education.
“I have known since my sophomore year of high school that I wanted to be a nurse. That has just been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. I had several opportunities to go elsewhere, but Baylor’s Christian values align with my own personal beliefs,” Moseman says. “Jesus is the foundation of the nursing school, and that is extremely evident. Everything we do, every single time without fail, it leads back to Jesus. Our professors are open about their faith with us, they pray for us, and it’s just obvious that God is working. God is all over this place and that’s the difference from other schools.”
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Carolyn Moseman, level two nursing student from Waco
Moseman says that her faith-based education will make her an even better nurse because it has given her a deeper understanding of the importance of compassionate care.
“It has helped me to see patients not just as a collection of symptoms, but as whole individuals with unique needs and stories,” she says. “I am grateful for the way Baylor has prepared me to be a nurse who not only provides excellent medical care, but also offers comfort and support to my patients and their families.”
Through its commitment to Christian values, undergraduate research and a caring community, Baylor’s LHSON provides a supportive environment that is a key aspect of the continuity in the hallmark transformational Baylor education that nursing students receive from Waco to Dallas.
“We believe that a strong community is essential to the success of our students, and we work hard to create opportunities for students to connect, support, and encourage each other,” Plank said. “Ultimately, the success lies in seeing students fulfill God’s purpose in their lives to become the hands and feet of Christ, and that is still my greatest joy as a nursing educator.”