By Judy Henderson Prather ’73, DMin ’02
Forty years ago this August …
I enrolled at Baylor as a greener-than-average seventeen-year-old. Very few people from Childress came this far south to college, so I felt like something of a pioneer. And, having grown up under the influence of a fundamentalist preacher, I believe it was God’s grace that brought me here, where I fell under the “questionable influence” of master teachers like Bob Baird and Ann Miller. They, and many others, affirmed my mind and helped to open and strengthen it. By the time I left here, I was changed–like many of you who are reading this.
Twenty years ago last August …
I came to Baylor in a very different role. With my younger son starting kindergarten, it was time for me to contribute to the family’s coffer, so I set out looking for a job I could do while the boys were in school.
Sherry Castello, then-editor of the Baylor Line (pictured far right in this 1991 BAA staff photo), hired me as a permanent replacement for two student-worker positions on the magazine. Desktop publishing was a new development, so Sherry would take the class notes I entered, place them in a template for “Down the Years” (the perennial favorite of all alumni readers!), and send the pages off to be printed.
The job grew, as jobs tend to do, and I served as class notes editor for sixteen years before moving into my current role as communications coordinator. During those years, I’ve watched my own two sons grow into manhood while I’ve celebrated countless babies and new jobs, grieved losses in the Baylor family, and had the privilege of writing about and meet some really amazing people. I loved helping alums stay connected to each other and our university, and I loved knowing I was contributing to Baylor in my unique way, helping my alma mater stay strong.
Just the other day …
I sat on the fifth floor of Cashion Academic Building at the annual service awards ceremony for Baylor staff and faculty. Baylor employees were receiving service pins–starting with the five-year-employees and going all the way up to one professor who was to be recognized for fifty years of teaching.
Looking around the room, I saw longtime colleagues, friends, and even one graying economics professor I had taken for an ill-chosen elective “back in the day.” The 325 employees listed on the program represented 4,400 years of service to Baylor, and I was proud to be among them. With the BAA’s decision last year to separate our operations from the university, I will be the last alumni association employee to be recognized this way.
I had been to the ceremony three times before–at five, ten, and fifteen years–and had now made it to twenty. Some of those years have been difficult ones for our organization, but that has only increased our commitment to work that much harder on Baylor’s behalf.
The last employee to be honored was Dr. Roger Kirk, who started teaching psychology and statistics back when stamps cost three cents and the flag only had forty-eight stars. It was 1958–the year Elvis went into the army. Before receiving a standing ovation, Dr. Kirk spoke for us all, when he said, “The secret is to do what you love doing, and do it to your utmost.”
Serving Baylor University–I love doing that. It’s been a good twenty years, even without the pin.