By Trevor Allison
Billboards all around Waco display the connection between the city and university. These billboards, which read “Baylor – Waco Proud Partners,” signify Baylor’s commitment to be a positive presence in Waco. But they also describe the lives of students who were raised in Waco and choose to attend Baylor.
“Baylor was always on the radar for me,” Waco junior Pierce Miner said. “And the option of being close to home was very encouraging.”
Miner lived in the Hewitt area his entire life and attended Midway High School.
He said he briefly considered other universities, but decided on Baylor based on the encouragement of his mother who graduated from Baylor, the experiences of family friends who attended the university and the quality of academics.
In addition, Miner said he did not want to leave Texas.
“Baylor had everything that I wanted,” Miner said. “Why would I want to go somewhere else?”
Other Baylor students from the Waco area cite the quality of public events hosted by the university as a reason they considered Baylor.
Both Miner and Robinson junior Devon McPherson said they attended the homecoming parade and Christmas on 5th Street several times when growing up.
Waco senior Amy Russell has her own memories. Russell, who has lived in Waco for 12 years and attended Vanguard College Preparatory School, said she remembered a 2003 Baylor pep rally that comedian Bill Cosby visited.
“I remember Bill Cosby coming, and that was a lot of fun,” Russell said, adding she thought the visit was a significant event for the Waco community and not Baylor alone.
Sports, which play a significant role in the relationship between Baylor and Waco, have also been noted as a factor in some students’ decision to attend Baylor. Miner said the women’s basketball national championship in 2005 helped sway him toward Baylor.
McPherson said he has positive memories of Baylor sports.
“I remember coming to baseball, football and basketball games as a kid, but at the time, I didn’t realize how big of a deal Baylor was,” McPherson said.
McPherson grew up less than 10 miles from campus, but said he never realized a school with the academic quality of Baylor was so close until he started looking at his options for college. McPherson said while he considered Texas A&M, after visiting Baylor, his mind was made up.
“Baylor: great school, great people, great place, close to home,” McPherson said. “I just liked the environment.”
Being close to home was a factor in Miner’s decision as well. Miner said he likes that he is able to share important events with his family without having to travel home for a weekend, as he might need to at another university.
Despite their initial concerns, Miner and Russell said they don’t feel as if their college experience has been negatively affected by attending college so close to home.
“I do things any normal college student would do,” Miner said. “I live like everyone else.”
Miner said he has the best of both worlds: the ability to live the “college life” but the option to go home almost any time. Russell also said she is also satisfied with her decision to attend Baylor.
“I have not felt hindered at all by being a Waco kid at Baylor,” Russell said. “I don’t like my college experience any less.”