Meet the Trailblazers: Robbins Students Win Scholarship for Fostering Diversity

In the fall of 2021, Baylor Multicultural Affairs announced its first Trailblazer Scholars, students chosen for their commitment to advancing diversity and racial equality. Trailblazer Scholars remain in the Program throughout their time at Baylor, engaging in service, leadership, and learning activities. The inaugural Cohort, named the Gilbert-Walker Cohort in honor of Baylor’s first Black graduates, has three Robbins College students as members: Erin Babatunde, Israel Beverly, and Connie Mendoza. Here, these students discuss their backgrounds and their experiences in the Trailblazer Scholars Program.

January 31, 2023
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Erin Babatunde:
Erin Babatunde

Erin Babatunde is a junior Public Health major who entered the Program at the beginning of her sophomore year. In her application essay, she wrote about her experience as a new student of color at Baylor and the community she had found in the Heavenly Voices gospel choir.

“Even though it was hard for me at that time, I wrote about how those spaces had been a shelter for me and how excited I was to continue working with Multicultural Affairs.”

Erin says that the Trailblazer Program’s goals of promoting diversity and equality connect well with her goals as a Public Health student.

“In our field, we want access to health care for all people,” she says, “and I personally am interested in racial equalities and health care disparities. Being a Trailblazer and being part of a program for fostering diversity and welcoming all people, I also want to facilitate that in my major of choice, working towards representing people that are underrepresented in health care settings. I think they work hand in hand.”

Israel Beverly:
Israel Beverly

Israel Beverly, also a junior majoring in Public Health, heard about the Scholarship as a freshman through Multicultural Affairs and was later accepted as a sophomore. Israel wants to pursue nursing after graduating and says that she is interested in Public Health because she wants to approach health from a community perspective.

Israel says that the Scholarship made her more involved in student activities and gave her opportunities to learn about other cultures through events like Fiesta, which celebrates Hispanic culture.

“Being a Public Health major,” she says, “I’ll encounter a lot of different cultures, especially with the mission work and study abroad trips I’m thinking about. I think what I’ve learned with this cohort will help me interact with those cultures.”

Connie Mendoza:
Connie Mendoza

Connie Mendoza is a master’s candidate studying Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and received the scholarship during her senior year. She has wanted to pursue CSD since high school, when she shadowed a local speech therapist, and as a Waco native, Baylor offered her an opportunity to be part of a renowned speech therapy program while staying close to home.

Connie notes that one thing she loves about her CSD courses is learning about cultural competency and humility, which intertwines perfectly with her learning in the Trailblazer Program. She says, “The Trailblazer goal of fostering community and inclusion is also a goal in CSD because we’re going to be working with a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and races.”

Ultimately, the Trailblazer Program has allowed these students to engage in cultural learning that will be valuable for their future careers while forming a close-knit, diverse community united by its goal.

“Everyone in the cohort has different ambitions,” Connie says. “We all have different career paths and goals, but we all have one common goal of inclusion and diversity and putting that at the forefront wherever we choose to go in our lives.”