By Sophie Acebo | Reporter
For some, graduating college means a shift from college town life to new places and new faces. Once a student graduates, they often either leave and move back home or move on to someplace else that has potential new opportunities.
For some Baylor graduates, staying in Waco can be the perfect next step after their undergraduate career.
Lexy Bishop is a Baylor alumna who graduated in the spring of 2017. She is now the project and research manager for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and has been in this position for two years.
Bishop never envisioned herself staying in Waco and finding a career here when she began her undergraduate life.
“I didn’t really know where I’d end up, but I just did not expect it to be here,” Bishop said.
Bishop was a business fellow in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business and studied mathematics and economics, but was unsure about what career path she felt would fit her best.
The networking she was able to receive during her time at Baylor is something she reflects on as being a major factor in her decision to stay.
During her junior and senior years of undergraduate studies, she took part in an initiative called CampusTown Waco that helps connect students to potential employers.
“Evan Hebert would sit down with students and say, ‘Hey, if you are even interested in staying in Waco, what are your qualifications, what do you want to do, etc.,’ and then he would sit down with employers as well and ask them for their openings and where Baylor students could fit,” Bishop said.
Hebert was able to match Bishop with her internship with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce which then led to her full-time position with them.
Bishop now runs and oversees a program called CampusTown Connect, which the Chamber bought from Hebert and expanded into a six-week program to introduce students to government and non-profits in Waco, and to help them branch out.
Now, like what Herbert did for Bishop, Bishop can do for other students who may be seeking opportunities in Waco.
Jordan Smith graduated in the spring semester of 2019. She is now a graduate student studying public health in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. She is also a graduate assistant with the Wiethorn Undergraduate Admissions Center.
When Smith was a freshman starting her Baylor journey, staying in Waco after her four years was not something that she ever considered.
“I tell people that I call it ‘the Waco suck,’” Smith said. “When you first get here, you think, ‘Oh, this place sucks,’ but the longer you stay, the more it actually ‘sucks’ you in with the people and the culture.”
A variety of factors played into her decision to stay in Waco and pursue opportunities she was able to find here.
The graduate program she is now a part of is something that drew her to stay, as well as the ability to keep relationships with her professors that Baylor was able to foster. Being able to stay connected to her church, Highland Baptist Church, also played a large role in the decision.
She also attributes the people, the culture and her love of Waco’s welcoming atmosphere as reasons that pushed her to continue her journey here.
For anyone who may be on the fence about staying in Waco after graduation, or for those who are completely opposed to it like she once was, Smith says to take the time to explore Waco outside of Baylor.
“Go to Cameron Park and walk around and just see what it’s like, or go downtown on a Saturday night when they have live jazz music and sit outside and just listen,” Smith says. “See the town itself and not just the stereotype around it.”