the proposal

My sisters are chatting about candle lighting ceremonies.  My cousin has made herself available to help with questions and contest entries.  Local friends have given me names and websites for photographers. My aunt and mom have already started planning.  I now own several magazines.  I have a rather large rock on my hand.
It’s official, I’m engaged!
For the story of how we met, click here.
And without further ado, here’s the detailed engagement story you’ve been waiting for…

Our engagement story:

On Friday, November 1st Cason went in to work and I planned an afternoon of shopping followed by an evening of studying.  I was at Target when Cason texted me to let me know they had too many people for his shift, so he got to go home.  I asked if we were making plans for the night, and he said he wanted to have a nice date night since we hadn’t planned one in a while.  (This is not unusual–we like to randomly plan fun nights, spur of the moment, where I put on a dress and he wears something besides athletic shorts.)  He picked me up at 6:30pm and we ended up going to dinner downtown at a place called Sam’s on the Square.  They had about 10 different kinds of tacos to choose from–I got fish tacos, and they were surprisingly delicious.  At dinner we did our fair share of people-watching; we constantly overhear tons of hilarious conversations among “college kids.”  So at first I didn’t notice how quiet Cason was being.  Towards the end of dinner I remember asking why he was so quiet–come to find out, he was super nervous.

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After dinner we went to one of my favorite places in Waco–Katie’s Frozen Custard.  We get Katie’s at least twice a week because it’s so delicious!  Then we took our frozen treats to Baylor instead of to my house to watch TV, which is perhaps when I realized something was up.  We parked on campus and walked towards Pat Neff Hall, passing the Judge Baylor statue and stopping in the gardens to sit and enjoy our frozen yogurt.  At one point in our walk I got pretty excited about the shrubs because they were cut to spell “Baylor Bears,” and I remember thinking it was strange that Cason seemed indifferent.  (We usually get excited about random/new things, but he had seen the shrubs before when he scoped out the location, and he had other things on his mind–which is obvious in retrospect.)

So we sat down in the middle of the garden looking at the glowing green Pat Neff Hall.  I’m trying to eat my frozen custard, but it was unusually cold outside for Texas so I gave up and listened to Cason tell me the history of the glowing green light.  (I’m still rather shocked that he did his research.)  After sitting for a few minutes I told Cason that I had to go to the bathroom, so he said, “Well then I will make this quick.”  (This is it!)  Then he got down on one knee, with the glowing green building behind him, and he told me how much he had always looked forward to finding the right person, how at times he wasn’t sure it would happen, and how he was blessed to have found me.  Then he said my full name and asked me to marry him.  I said, “Yes” through my tears and I got down to hug and kiss him.  Then he stood up and asked me if I was going to say yes (which apparently happens in more engagements than you would think), and I told him that I did say yes and that I do want to marry him.  So he put the ring on my finger and we smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged.  Then, since it was dark, he pulled out his iPhone and turned on his flashlight so I could see the ring. (It’s perfect, by the way.  We previously looked at rings, so he had a good idea of what I wanted, and he just took it and ran with it. 🙂

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We walked back to the car, giddy, and I asked all sorts of questions like, “Were you nervous? Did you think I would say no?” etc.  (Yes he was nervous but not because he thought I would say no.)  Once we got back to the car, we called my parents and face-timed them so they could see the ring.  Then we face-timed Cason’s parents, who were on their way to Florida with his youngest brother.  It was all very exciting to start sharing with family.  I also called my aunt and my nana, and my cousin’s reaction was priceless.

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People asked me if I was surprised, but I think the better question is, “Were you pleasantly surprised?”  Truth be told, if I had no inclination that it was coming, I would have been surprised, but I’m not sure that I would have liked it.  Cason’s proposal, for me, had the right balance of expectation and surprise.  So yes, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a special moment shared between the two of us, which we will never forget.  Even now when I drive by campus at night and see Pat Neff Hall glowing green in the distance, I get this big grin on my face.

taking a turn for the better

Sorry for the delay in posts; graduate school consumes about 70% of my life now (and that’s probably an understatement).  The first weekend of the month I actually flew home to see my cousin get married to her high school sweetheart.  It was beautiful, and it was wonderful to see my family.

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Last week I struggled with anxiety, and I was very sick on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thankfully I’m feeling better.  I definitely bounced back more quickly than I would have this time last year.  I’m thankful to have Cason here by my side.  The move to Texas has been a transition for the both of us, but we are making it through together.  Cason has a new job.  I have new friends, I think (which is a big deal for me).  I’ve even managed to stay in touch with some GA friends, and that’s honestly something I was most worried about; I’m terrible about keeping in touch, even with my best friends.  I’m blessed to have friends who reach out to me especially given that we are all so busy.

Cason and I also believe we have found a new church home.  The worship music is an excellent combination of contemporary worship music and new renditions of old hymns; it reminds me of RUF worship at Mercer. (Shout out to the RUF band! Miss you!)   The sermons provide informative historical backgrounds for the verses each week, and I really like his preaching style.  It’s all very Bible-oriented, which should be a no-brainer for the church, but these days it’s harder to find someone who actually preaches the Bible.

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Anyway, now to school-related things.  The past couple of weeks I have advised my undergraduate students to evaluate their midterm goals, so I decided to make a few of my own.  I’ve encouraged my students to be open and honest, and I tried to do the same on my evaluation.  Writing these goals down helped me get the ball rolling in some areas.  I’ve already met a couple of goals on there, like talking to my professors, scheduling more time for coursework, and studying with my peers.  Perhaps I should add some more goals to this list!  Graduate school is bringing out a whole new side of me, and I like it!

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My brutally honest midterm goals evaluation.

I have my first exam in Ethics of School Psychology (<–short version of the course title) on Monday, and I’ve made a study plan to help me tackle all the information from 7 class days, an entire textbook,  our program handbook, 10+ articles, and multiple PowerPoint presentations.  Needless to say, I have a lot of studying to do, and it has already begun.  Hopefully my brain won’t be fried after class and I can keep studying this evening.  Even though I’ve only been there a couple of times, Common Grounds is one of my favorite places to study.  Expect to find me there all weekend.

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Lastly, today is my 1 year anniversary of this blog, and it’s Baylor homecoming week.  Sic’em.

if at first you don’t succeed…

Downtown Oklahoma City–adorable.  Last weekend Cason and I visited some friends from home, who are now stationed in OK City.  They were the perfect hosts.  They took us to dinner downtown at this place called Texadelphia.  Cute little combo of Mexican and Philly cheese steaks.  Delicious.  Then we played Scattergories together and watched a hilarious Jim Carey movie.  I love traveling, and I really like that living in Texas now gives us opportunities to travel to new places without having to drive really far distances.

I had my first statistics exam on Monday, and I did well.  I’m thankful that I have this class my first semester in grad school because it is the one class where I’ve learned everything before.  Intro to School Psychology is good so far because it has mostly been topics about School Psychology that I researched when looking at different school psych programs.  Though my Psychology of Exceptional Children class is pretty new to me, a lot of it seems to be common sense so far.  There are loads of acronyms that I’ve never seen before, but I’ve learned them pretty quickly.  The biggest aspect of that class so far is that I will serve for 10 hours this semester outside of the classroom.  I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to tutor a 13-year old boy with Aspergers.  I’m really eager to get started, and I’m glad that I will be tutoring him in my favorite subject–math.

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Assessment is a completely new class; I never had the opportunity to learn how to administer cognitive abilities assessments.  Why would I have needed to?  Even though the class is new and sometimes difficult, the subject is interesting and necessary.  In order to do my job as a school psychologist well, I have to learn how to administer these assessments.  Today I will be administering my first assessment to another classmate.  After sitting in class for two weeks “learning” how to administer this assessment, I’m just ready to get the show on the road and actually do it!  It’s one thing to listen to someone tell you how to do it, but I have a feeling we will  learn more today by administering the test than we have learned in the past two weeks.  Experience seems to be the primary teacher in this field thus far.

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The theme for the next several years will likely continue to be, “Let’s throw them to the wolves and see how they do.”  The perfectionist in me doesn’t always like this idea.  I am a planner, and I like to have expectations clearly defined before I embark on a large task.  School psychology doesn’t work that way at all.  The only way to learn is to attempt, fail, and try again.  I like to watch others attempt and fail so that I can learn from that instead of making my own mistakes.  Well, that’s not an option here, so I’m still trying to get used to that.  Luckily, our first attempts and failures with administering this assessment are pretty low-risk.  So we make several mistakes in front of our peers–they’re likely to make similar mistakes.  Plus, I understand that they’d rather have us make the big mistakes with our peers and our professors instead of in the school setting.

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On another note, I get to fly home next weekend for my cousin’s wedding, and I am SO excited!  One, I love flying.  Two, I love weddings.  Three, I love Georgia.  Four, I love my family.  (That was in increasing order, if you didn’t notice.)  Needless to say, this is going to be a pretty awesome weekend.  Now I just have to get through five classes, several homework assignments, two quizzes, and one extra test administration & protocol.  Not too bad, right?  Honestly, it could be much worse.  I’m just thankful for three-day weekends and fun events to look forward to!

 

how to survive your first week in graduate school

  1. BREATHE.
    Remember that even though you’ve experienced 4 years of college, graduate school is a new experience.  Amidst learning a new schedule, meeting new people, figuring out professors’ expectations, and completing loads of assignments, I have to take a moment to myself each day to pause and just breathe.  Some days just stopping to catch my breath, counting the number of slow inhales and exhales, relaxes me.  Graduate school is stressful, but there’s something about consciously breathing in and out that reminds me that I’m alive!  I’m going to make it!  It’s a great way to pause and refocus before moving on to the next task in a list of many.
  2. SLEEP.
    Gone are the days of staying up until 1 or 2am and sleeping until 10 or 11am.  Gone.  Now, 12am is a late bedtime for me, and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 is a luxury.  Honestly, I’m more okay with that than I thought I would be.  Completing tasks in the morning and early afternoon gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Waiting the night before an assignment was due never gave me that.
    Sleeping on a regular schedule actually reduces stress.  Yes, I know that people have told me this for years, but I’m finally realizing it.  Perhaps I’m a slow learner at times, but now that I’ve got this routine down, I feel indescribably better.  Sleep is now something that I look forward to, as opposed to a burden.  Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in graduate school.  The days will be long and miserable after a poor night’s sleep.coffee
  3. EAT.
    …don’t just eat–eat well.  Okay, okay, so I’m still trying to cut out those sodas at dinner and the fast food junk when I’m in a jam.  BUT eating well boosts energy and overall attitude.  Snacks that are high in protein have become a staple for me.  I keep almonds in my desk drawer at work; I’ll throw some low-sodium jerky in my purse for a snack; greek yogurt with fruit and granola is quickly becoming a favorite; and peanut butter will always be my protein comfort food.  I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and energy level on days when I forget my snacks.  Nobody wants a tired, grumpy graduate student, so handy snacks are a must.
    Oh, and breakfast is ALWAYS a good idea.  My Keurig is great, but the caffeine from the coffee is not going to last.  Muffins, breakfast bars, fruit–a must.  I never thought I’d become a believer in breakfast, but I’ve been converted.
  4. READ.
    Do the assignments.  Do them ahead of time.  Plan every hour of every day and squeeze in reading time whenever possible.  I print out articles and carry them around in my purse.  I carry my books to the office and read between appointments.  I read over breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner.  I read constantly, it feels like.  Sometimes the professors cover the material and sometimes they talk about something entirely different.  Either way, completing the reading gives me a better idea of what to expect in class and enables me to answer questions and discuss things with the class.

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That’s the best advice I have, and just to be honest, I typed it out mostly for my own benefit.  My lifestyle changed drastically in the past three weeks, and it’s a good change.  This post will serve as a reminder to keep it up when I feel like giving in.

My first couple of weeks of class have been stressful, it’s true, but they have been overwhelmingly good.  Even though the work is never-ending, I am thankful to finally be able to focus on school psychology.  I’d rather read 5 articles and upwards of 10 chapters a week about school psychology than have a smaller load of gen. ed. classes.

my first week in Waco

Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA
Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Texas, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a week.  We have been in Texas for over a week, and it still hardly seems real.
On Thursday afternoon, my parents and I began the 13-hour drive to Waco around 1pm.  We arrived around 1:30am and headed straight to bed.  Friday morning we were up and at ’em.  We got the key to my beautiful house and started moving things in right away.  That afternoon we made our first trip in Texas to the nearest IKEA, and when we returned Dad and I put together my new bed.  We spent the rest of the weekend getting me settled in, buying groceries and the like.

Tuesday night, the ladies from my cohort enjoyed an evening getting to know each other.  We would have invited the guys, but they hadn’t joined our Facebook group at that point.  We met and spent time chatting about ourselves, where we’re from, and what we’re doing here now.  Spending some time together helped us to feel comfortable as we navigated the orientations that followed.

First we experienced the Graduate School orientation together, followed by Baylor’s Educational Psychology department orientation.  There we met several of the faculty and most of the first year students in the Ed. Psych department.  On Thursday, all 7 of us introduced ourselves to one another and to our professors at our School Psychology orientation.  We learned more about the program before heading off to a local eatery for lunch.  There, we shared some good ole Texas barbecue.  After lunch we learned more about Baylor’s Autism Resource Center, known to us now as the BARC.

When we were done navigating orientations as a group, we split up on Friday as my roommate and I headed to our graduate assistantship orientations.  There we learned about Baylor’s Academic Success Center, where I will spend 20 hours a week working with students to provide them with resources for success here at Baylor.  (Meanwhile, I will need your prayers for this part of my endeavor.)

In other news, I can find the following locations without my GPS:
My house
Baylor
Cason’s house
HEB (the grocery store)
Walmart
The mall
& various restaurants
Needless to say, I’ve got the necessities down.

We’ve been in Texas over a week and I’ve already met over 20 new people and visited about 6 local eateries, and this is just the beginning.  Next up: a recap of my first week in grad school!

and the countdown continues

THREE WEEKS…and the excitement is currently overwhelming.  I get excited/overwhelmed and cry at everything.  I don’t sleep.  It’s going to feel like the night before Christmas for the next few weeks, and honestly it may get a little ridiculous.  I feel like a hormonal teenager, but I’m honestly just super excited.

This week everyone in my cohort found out their graduate assistantship positions.  By the grace of God and extreme devotion and hard work from our program director (and potentially others, behind the scenes), everyone in our cohort has 100% tuition remission for the fall and spring!  That means we pay nothing but fees for our first year in grad school!  If you don’t believe me, here’s the email:
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In other exciting news, I got my first book for grad school today!  Along with my professor, this book will teach me all about the DAS-II…don’t ask me what that is.  Just kidding…it’s a “psychological assessment instrument” (aka, a test) that measures certain cognitive abilities for children from the ages of about 2-17 years; at least, that’s what I gather from the first page. 😉 Here’s a photo of me with my happy face and my new book:
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I think I’ve really found where I’m supposed to be.  I’m ready to get to Texas.  I’m ready to start learning.  I’m ready for the next chapter.  I don’t doubt that it will be difficult.  I don’t doubt that it will take work.  I do hope, though, that for the most part it ends up being fun work, and I do believe that it will all be worth it.  I forgot how much I love to learn, and I’m just ready to get back in the groove.  I’m ready to have more of a schedule.  I’m ready for everything…except the rest of the packing that I still have to do.  Oh, and the drive.  I’m not ready for the 13-hour drive.  Other than that, let’s get this show on the road!

 

a big “to-do” for baylor

Back when I thought I was going to China, I had a to-do list that I was updating fairly regularly here on athousandnewpaths.  (Sidenote: If you haven’t read about where the title for my blog originated, check it out here.)  Well I thought that I created a Baylor to-do list to replace the list for China, but I can’t seem to find it.  So, here it is:

Finalize my sell, donate, & keep piles for my room at home
Extensive cleaning and organizing of room at home
Sell items
Donate items

Pack winter clothes
Sell/donate clothes & shoes I no longer wear
Organize summer clothes
Pack dishes

Pack books
Pack mementos, crafts, & miscellaneous
Sew a canopy for my new bed/room

Register for classes
Order books
Pay bill online
Email mentor
Add class schedule to new Lilly planner

Add GA schedule to new Lilly planner (after receiving GA schedule)
Create a budget

Take my dog, Georgia, to get her yearly vaccinations
Take Georgia to the groomer
Find/purchase a small dog crate

Visit dentist
Check all refills for prescriptions

Buy more contacts

Change addresses
Bank accounts
Get car oil changed and tires rotated and balanced

Compile a list of freezer and crock pot meals
Purchase another crock pot

This seems like a long list of things left to do in less than four weeks, but I’m pretty confident that I can manage it!  Cason and I are getting very excited about moving to Texas.  It gets more and more real every day!  I will keep you updated!

Updated: 8/5/13–Only a few things left to do and just a few for days left to do it!
Updated: 8/13/13–I can’t believe the big move is almost here! I finally compiled a list of crockpot meals, which will help tremendously when I do my first round of grocery shopping at the end of this week. I’ve also succumb to the fact that some things on this list will need to be completed IN TEXAS. That’s actually rather exciting!

a class-y edition of baylor updates

Register for classes–CHECK! (This is the class-y part of the update 😉
Set up direct deposit to receive money from Baylor–CHECK!
Craft for new room–CHECK!
Planted succulents for new room–CHECK!

Productivity was at an all-time high this week.  Something about spending a week away on vacation makes me want to come home and be as productive as possible.  I’ve done enough this week for the past two weeks, I hope.  While it may not seem like much at first glance, I checked off some major tasks for the summer.

Registering for classes was not quite the nightmare that it was at Mercer, but there were still unknown registration holds to keep me waiting all afternoon.  Everything worked out, though, and I finally registered for courses in statistics, ethics of school psychology, testing, and exceptional children. Let’s take a moment to pause and praise since I no longer have to take unnecessary gen-ed courses!  I made a cute little schedule, and I will be adding hours for my graduate assistantship and hours at the BARC to it soon enough.  (The BARC is the Baylor Autism Resource Center.)

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I’m decorating my room in Waco with a travel theme, which means maps, maps, and more maps!  This week I covered some light switch plates and outlet covers with some maps using ModPodge.  I also updated a cork/magnet board with some maps.  I added a diamond with washi tape to represent ADPi!  I thought it turned out really well.  I’m still thinking of what to do for the magnets, though.

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I also finally jumped on the bandwagon and planted some succulents, thanks to Cason’s help.  I used an old tin that I got from a thrift store, drilled some holes in the bottom for extra drainage, and planted a small cactus and three types of succulents.  I will have to add a photo later.

I’m getting super excited about moving to Texas, and keeping busy helps the time pass more quickly.  Busy is exactly what I will be for the next several weeks.  This week I am taking engagement pictures, going on vacation to the beach, and attending both bridal and baby showers.  I will be attending weddings of four friends from RUF in college the first two weekends in August.  Busy, busy with loads of wonderful things.  I suppose I will find time to pack somewhere in there, but that will come.

Also, another update that I almost forgot: Cason found a place to live that’s within his budget!  What a blessing!  Well, I will be back when I have more updates!

 

baylor is getting closer

While several Baylor updates have probably popped up in your newsfeed over the months, this one is perhaps the best.  I hope that once you read it, you will agree with me.

Baylor University
Baylor University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gosh I thought I had posted my Baylor happenings more often, but since I haven’t there will be lots to include in this post.

1st. Housing:
I HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN WACO, TX.  Praise!  I will be living with two second-year students and another first-year student (like myself) in a house that we are renting together.  Oh, and it’s fabulous! I absolutely hate carpet (allergies, asthma, and whatnot), and this house has ZERO square feet of carpet.  Hallelujah!  Yes, I get overly excited about floors.  It has stained concrete floors, which are tons nicer than they sound.  I have my own bedroom with a cute little nook by the window for my desk.  Hooray for natural lighting in my workspace.  It’s the little things that we have to get excited about, people.  I’ll be sharing a bathroom with my fellow first-year, and perhaps next year when the second-years move out then we can move into the rooms with their own bathrooms.  The kitchen is HUGE.  Like I could probably put my pet elephant in there and he would have room to do a dance…if I had a pet elephant, that is.

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2nd. Graduate Assistantship (GA):
First of all, the abbreviation GA for graduate assistantship confuses the mess out of me, seeing as my home state is also GA, for Georgia. I’ll use the abbreviation, however, and just pray you don’t get as confused as I do.  Now to the good stuff!  On May 9th (I remember the date because that was also the day my best friend got engaged and I took secret photos.  See engagement photos.), I had a phone interview with the sweetest lady from Baylor’s Office of Academic Support Programs.  Well, I’ll say that I anticipated an interview.  What I received was a 20 minute phone call highlighting the details of the program and welcoming me on board.  Needless to say, I got the GA position, which is, according to Dr. Robinson, a “coveted GA position.”
As an academic mentor I will work with at-risk students to monitor their academic progress and offer support and encouragement as they adjust to college life.  I will work 20 hours a week, meeting with about 35-40 students weekly.  I have my own office and a huge support team.  I cannot even begin to say how encouraging my interview was.  It got me even more excited for everything that is in store at Baylor.

3rd. Finances:
Well if that paragraph about my GA wasn’t enough of a blessing, the following week I received this email:
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Tuition remission means I don’t have to pay for 24 hours of tuition this year.  Considering I am only taking 24 hours of class per week this year, I’d say that’s the best financial offer I could have received.

I know that I’ve accomplished nothing on my own.  I am truly in awe of how greatly God has blessed me.  I could not have done this by myself, and I have not presumed to believe that I could.  I know that I would have failed miserably without the Lord directing my paths and blessing me with wonderful family, friends, and instructors to also help me along the way.  That’s why all of this goes back to Him.  He is the true reason for every educational, financial, and emotional provision in my life.  I know that He has given me these things in order that I use them to shine His light on this world.

I will say also that I am honestly amazed.  I have spent too much of the past 2 years underestimating the things I can do with the help of God, my family, my professors, and my friends.  I have been attacked by the enemy and been led to believe that I was once alone in all of this.  I don’t mean to get super spiritual on you, but that’s the truth.  I’m coming to realize that life is too short to waste time worrying about it, especially when you know that the Lord has a plan.  I’m thankful for that.

my visit to Baylor

Y’all, let me just say that I am thrilled about my pick for grad school.  I flew out to Waco, Texas to visit Baylor this past weekend, and it was fabulous!  I’m gonna post some pictures and let them pretty much speak for themselves! (Okay, okay, you know I’m gonna add some captions in there!)

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I still think Mercer’s bear statue has this one beat, but at least this lil bear has a name! The beautiful building in the background is the 9-yr-old Baylor Sciences Building.
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Had to take a photo under a Baylor sign in my Baylor t-shirt. The fam all wore Baylor shirts on the way home. Matching, how cute!
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How excited do I look to be going to Baylor? I am HUGE on school spirit, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be attending Baylor in the fall.
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Yet another photo under the BU sign. Can’t have too many, in my opinion!
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In front of the house I will be living in with two second-year students! It’s absolutely gorgeous inside and out!
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Fabulous Mexican restaurant in downtown Waco!
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On the Burleson Quad in front of Burleson Hall, which currently houses the BARC, short for Baylor Autism Resources Center.
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Last, but certainly not least is the best photo I got of one of the two REAL LIVE BAYLOR BEARS! Not sure if this is Joy or Lady, but she is absolutely stunning. Wouldn’t you agree?