WACO – Jade A. Connor, a senior biology major from Lewisville at Baylor University, has been selected to receive a prestigious Fulbright study grant, becoming the University’s 48th student Fulbright recipient since 2001.
In the fall, Connor will begin studies at Maastricht University in the Netherlands for a master’s degree in Governance and Leadership in European Public Health.
“I am extremely honored and excited to be named a Fulbright Scholar,” Connor said. “This program does not simply teach students about public health but gives the tools to make decisions about a variety of public health disciplines and implement programs that can transcend geographic borders and demographic differences.”
After earning her master’s degree, Connor will return to the United States to begin medical school with an ultimate goal of improving the lives of patients with dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
“The Netherlands has many innovative national programs for citizens with dementia, and I believe that I can learn a great deal from the Dutch approach to care of patients with dementia through public health measures,” Connor said. “In my career, I hope to effect change outside of my own practice by creating public health programs for these patients that can be implemented among the multitude of ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses and cultures in the United States.”
Connor decided to come to Baylor after attending Invitation to Excellence, a special weekend program for high-achieving high school seniors that showcases some of the exciting academic opportunitiesBaylor offers in the Hankamer School of Business, School of Engineering and Computer Science, science programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and the Honors College.
“That weekend I spoke to Baylor students who were doing incredible things: going on medical mission trips, studying abroad, conducting research, serving the community – all of them making real differences in the world,” Connor said. “I was also drawn to Baylor’s culture of community and service. Everyone I met at Baylor felt a genuine desire to help those in need and serve in whatever sphere of influence they had. They really cared about others and wanted others to succeed. After that experience, I knew that Baylor was the right fit for me, but I had no idea how much I would grow throughout my years here.”
Connor is both a William Hillis Scholar in Biomedical Sciences and a Carr P. Collins Scholar at Baylor. The Hillis Scholars program provides research experiences and enhanced mentoring and learning opportunities for high-achieving undergraduate prehealth students prepares them for top graduate programs and medical schools. The Collins Scholars program recognizes and rewards students who demonstrate leadership through service.
In addition to academics, Connor is involved in student organizations. She serves as president of Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST), a student organization for undergraduate students interested in scientific research, and is editor of BURST’s journal, Scientia, which features outstanding student research in the biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and technology. She is a member of the American Medical Student Association at Baylor, a Biology Ambassador and a tutor at La Vega High School.
Baylor is well known for its vibrant campus community that blends interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Connor praises several Baylor faculty members who took her under their wings and offered guidance during her four years at Baylor, including Dr. Erika Abel, Dr. Rich Sanker, Dr. Tamarah Adair, Dr. Lisa Baker, Dr. Troy Abell, Dr. Kirsten Escobar, Dean Betsy Vardaman and Dr. Bill Neilson, whom Connor considers her “most influential mentor.” Neilson is a medical doctor and serves as clinical professor of the Honors Program and associate dean of the Honors College.
“I honestly have never had an educator invest in me as much as Dr. Neilson has. He was the one who suggested that I apply to the Fulbright and the first one who really challenged me to take risks and make big goals. Dr. Neilson has really cared about me as a person, not just as a student,” Connor said.
“Jade embodies all that we hope for in a Baylor education. She is a remarkably humble thoughtful Christian who is dedicated to serving God and humanity,” Neilson said. “Amazingly, Jade taught herself biochemistry during the summer and then tied for the highest score in the nation on the MCAT. She is in leadership roles in countless organizations, she has conducted basic science research at UT Southwestern during the summers and she wrote her Honors thesis about the ethics of Body Worlds. She is one of the most grounded and well-rounded individuals I have ever met. It is privilege to know her.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students.
“I’m so grateful to this opportunity to spend a year not only diving deep into the subjects of public health and health policy, but learning from the Dutch people and culture. I fell in love with the city of Maastricht the first time I visited through the Baylor in Maastricht study abroad program, and I’m excited to return in the fall,” Connor said.
Connor is a 2013 graduate of Hebron High School in Carrollton. She is the daughter of Trevor and Foye Connor.