20 Famous Alumni From Baylor University

Although this may be a little biased, Baylor has produced some of the greatest alumni out there. Whether it be Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper, Rand Paul from the United States Senate, David Crowder from the David Crowder band, Angela Kinsey from The Office, or Robert Griffin III from the Cleveland Browns- Former Baylor Bears are making a difference all over the place. Keep reading for 20 famous alumni from Baylor University!

1. Sophia Young

Former Lady Bears basketball player, Sophia Young, helped lead the team to their first National Championship during the 2005 NCAA Women’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament. She is one of four women in NCAA history to dish out 300 assists, grab 1,00 rebounds, collect 300 steals, and score 2,000 points. The San Antonia Silver Stars selected Young as the fourth overall pick in the 2006 WNBA draft. As a rookie she was named to the Western Conference WBNA All-Star team. Young was also one of 21 finalists for the US Women’s Olympic Basketball team.

2. David Burrows

David Burrows is a director, producer, and writer for both film and television. Barking Harley Productions, Burrows Production Company, has produced many projects, including music videos and radio/television commercials. He began at Baylor seeking a law degree, but switched to a business major later on. During David’s college years he launched several business concepts and served as the state chairman for the College republicans of Texas. Burrows is the co-founder and Vice President of Perfect Attendance, a company that hosts monthly concerts and offers prizes to students to motivate them to stay in school and improve their GPA. Burrows is a member of the Dallas Producers Association, the Sundance Film Producers Conference, and is a past judge for the MTV Video Music Awards.

3. David Crowder

David Crowder is an award winning Christian artist. The David Crowder band began in Waco when Crowder was a student at Baylor and realized half of the student population didn’t go to church. Crowder and one of his good friends started a church in 1995 where Crowder served as the pastor of worship. The church grew and eventually the band released a few independent CDs before being signed to Sparrow Records. The band started going on extensive tours, but always made it a point to make it back to their church in Waco on most Sundays. In 2005 the band released “A Collision”, which gave them the No. 2 spot on ITunes and the No. 39 spot on the Billboard 200. In the 2007 their follow up album “Remedy” was released and scored them another top 5 hit. The Crowder band went on to release four more albums and their second to last one, “Give Us Rest”, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Christian charts and No. 2 on Billboard 200. In 2005 the group was nominated for best rock/rap gospel album at the Grammys.

 

4. Chip Gaines

Chip Gaines graduated from Baylor in 1998 with a marketing degree. He is co-owner and co-founder of Magnolia Homes, and co-star of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper. An entrepreneur at heart, Chip began several small businesses straight out of college (including landscaping, fireworks stands, and laundry services). For the next 15 years Chip worked in various construction jobs, such as house flipping, renovations. “I made $30,000 on my first house flip that I ever did. It became obvious to me that I could work an entire year and make $30,000, or I could work for three months flipping a house and make the same amount of money”. Chip manages the construction portion of Magnolia with his design preference being “whatever Joanna likes”.

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5. Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines graduated from Baylor in 2001 with a degree in communications. She interned in New York where she found several “off-the-beaten-path” shops that inspired her to later return to Waco and open a shop of her own. Joanna ran her store, Magnolia Market, for several years while working with her husband on house flips. She is the co-owner and co-founder of Magnolia Homes, the realty company owned between herself and her husband, and co-star of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper where she works as the lead designer. When Chip finishes up with all the construction parts of the fixer upper, Joanna moves in a decorates the home with furniture from Magnolia Market and various antique stores around Waco. Along with Fixer Upper, Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market, and the Bed and Breakfast the couple run, Joanna also has a furniture line with Standard Furniture that is available for purchase now.

 

6. Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III graduated from Baylor in winter of 2010 and began his master’s degree in 2011. In 2008 when he was just 17 years old, Griffin began his first semester. He played as a true freshman in the 2008 football season. During this season Griffin was given the Big 12 Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year honor. After the 2011 football season Griffin became the first Baylor player to win the Heisman Trophy. Griffin was the No. 2 pick by the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL draft. He played for the Redskins until March 7, 2016 when he was released. On March 24, 2016 Griffin signed a two-year contact with the Cleveland Browns. As of now Griffin is the starting quarterback for the Browns.

7. John Lee Hancock

John Lee Hancock is an American screenwriter, film director, and producer, best known for his movies “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks”. Hancock received an English and law degree from Baylor. He practiced law for 4 years before realizing that he was more interested in film. His debut film, “Hard Time Romance”, premiered in 1991. Shortly thereafter, his second film, “The Rookie”, was a big success both critically and commercially. Hancock had three widely successful movies later on- “The Blind Side”, “Snow White and the Huntsman”, and “Saving Mr. Banks”.

8. Jimmy Walker

Jimmy Walker started at Baylor University in 1998. He played golf in college and later turned professional at age 22. During 2003 and 2004, Walker played full-time on the Nationwide Tour. He won his first two professional events in 2004 at the Bell South Panama Championship and the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. His third big title came at the National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic, which qualified him for the 2008 PGA tour. In 2014 Walker had his best season to date, finishing in seventeenth place on the Official World Golf Ranking. In 2016, Walker won the PGA Championship.

9. Richelle Carey

Richelle Carey began college at Smith College in Massachusetts, but returned to her home state and finished her degree Baylor. Carey started her television career as an intern at KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas, and was later promoted to associate producer. Eventually Carey left KPRC and worked as a reporter in Texas, Nevada, and Missouri. After moving on from this Carey moved to Atlanta where she was in charge of covering women and children affected by violence. She interviewed women such as Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, and Chaka Khan. She also hosted the weekly segment on HLN called “What Matters”, where she talked about issues facing the African American community. In 2013 she was announced as one of the first news anchors at Al Jazeera America. After its closure she moved to be a presenter at Al Jazeera English.

10. Ann Richards

Ann Richards was the 45th governor of Texas. She grew up in Waco and attended Baylor on a debate scholarship. Ann earned her bachelors degree at Baylor and, after marrying her high school sweetheart, moved to Austin to get her teaching certificate. In 1976, Richards was elected to the four-member Travis County, Texas Commissioner’s Court and later won reelection in 1980. Ann was elected to be the Texas State Treasurer in 1982 (the first woman in statewide office in over 50 years). In 1990, the democratic nomination for governor of Texas went to Ann, who went on to when the election by a 49-47 percent margin. Ann accomplished many things while in office, many of which dealt with reforming the Texas prison system.

11. Angela Kinsey

Angela Kinsey graduated from Baylor in 1993 and is best known for her reoccurring role on the television series “The Office”. Kinsey studied English at Baylor, where she became a member of the Baylor chapter of Chi Omega. After graduation, Angela moved to New York to intern on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”. After completing a few years at the “Late Show”, Angela and one of her friends took a coast-to-coast trip from New York City to California. Once in California Kinsey began taking improvisation classes. In 2005, Angela went to audition for the role of “Pam Beesly” on “The Office”, but produces said she was too feisty for the part. They later decided to call Angela back and ask her to audition for the part of “Angela Martin”, which she got.

12. Shawn Tolleson

Shawn Tolleson is a Major League baseball player. He began at Baylor in fall of 2007 and played baseball for his entire college career. In the 2010 MLB draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked Tolleson. He made his major league debut in 2012 against the Philadelphia Phillies. On June 10th he played again against the Seattle Mariners, working one inning and picking up his first two strikeouts. During the full 2012 season, Tolleson appeared in 40 games for the Dodgers. On November 20, 2012, Shawn was clamed off waivers by the Texas Rangers. He became the closer for the Rangers in 2015, and recorded his career save on May 20th against Boston in a 2-1 victory. Tolleson closed out the 2015 season with a 6-4 record.

13. Jeremy Wariner

Jeremy Wariner is an American track athlete specializing in the 400-meters. After enrolling at Baylor, Jeremy quickly became one of best collegiate sprinters. In 2004, he won the NCAA Division I indoor and outdoor 400-meter titles. Later on at the USATF Championship, Wariner once again took first place. This victory made him a favorite for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Once in Athens, Jeremy won two gold metals (the 400-meter, and the 400-meter relay). Following the games, Jeremy went professional, therefor forgoing the rest of his college track career. However, Wariner remained under the coaching of Baylor head track coach Clyde Hart for the remainder of his time at the university.

14. Don Willett

Don Willett is a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. During his time at Baylor, Willett triple majored in economics, finance, and public administration, and was a member of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce. After receiving his undergraduate from Baylor, he went to Duke University to get a law degree. In 1996, Willett joined then-Governor George W. Bush’s administration as Director of Research and Special Projects. When Bush ran for president in 2000, Willett also worked as a member of his campaign team and, after Bush’s victory, transition team. Once in the White House, Willett worked as a special assistant to the President and director of law and policy. In 2003, Greg Abbott appointed Willett to Attorney General for Legal Counsel. Then, in 2005, Rick Perry appointed Willett to the Texas Supreme Court.

15. Jody Conradt

Jody Conradt is a retired basketball coach. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998 after a long and successful coaching career. Conradt played basketball for Baylor while she attended classes, and graduated in 1963 with a degree in physical. While earning her master’s degree from Baylor, Conradt taught and coached at Midway High School in Waco. After her degree, Conradt moved to Huntsville to coach basketball at Sam Houston State University. After SHSU, she coached at University of Texas at Arlington. Due to changes in Title IX requirements for schools, the new women’s athletic director of University of Texas at Austin hired Conradt to coach where she led the Lady Longhorns to their first undefeated season and subsequent National Championship. Conradt was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998 and into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

 

16. Andrew Jackson Jack Lummus Jr.

Andrew Jackson Jack Lummus Jr. was a two-sport athlete at Baylor, professional football player with the New York Giants, and an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He fought, and died, at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II and received the Medal of Honor for his service. In 1937 Lummus enrolled at Baylor on full scholarship. As a student he was an All-Southwest Conference center fielder for three years in baseball and a two-year All-American team member in football. In 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps after a recruiter came to campus. Lummus did not do well in flight school, so he went through the New York Giants’ training camp and made it onto the roster. After helping to lead the giants to a championship, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. In 1945, Lummus went into battle at Imo Jima. While in battle he stepped on a land mine and later died at the hospital. Lummus was awarded the Metal of Honor for his actions at Imo Jima and the New York Giants inducted him into the New York Giants Ring of Honor in 2015.

17. Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris is an author, best known for his suspense novels about his most famous character, “Hannibal Lector”. All of his works have been made into films, the most notable being “The Silence of the Lambs”, which became the third movie in Academy Award history to sweep the Oscars in major categories. Harris graduated from Baylor in 1964 with a degree in English. While in collage, Harris worked for the local newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald. In 1968, he moved to New York City to work for the Associated Press. Fellow novelist Stephen King has remarked that if writing is sometimes tedious for other authors, to Harris it is like “writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration”, because, for Harris, “the very act of writing is a kind of torment”.

18. Jeff Dunham

Jeff Dunham is an American ventriloquist, producer, and stand-up comedian. In 1980 Dunham graduated from high school and gave himself a goal to be on the Tonight Show before 10 years pass. That year he enrolled at Baylor with a communications major. During college, he performed shows around Waco, and sometimes flew around the country on the weekends to perform shows too. By his junior year, Dunham landed featured spots opening up for Bob Hope and George Burns. In 1988, feeling his career had run its course in Texas, Dunham packed up and moved to Los Angeles. In 1990, he was given a spot on the Tonight Show, thus meeting his 10-year goal. Jeff has also appeared on several other television shows such as “Ellen” with Ellen DeGeneres and “Hot Country Nights” with Reba McEntire.

19. Rand Paul

Rand Paul is an American politician and physician. Paul began his journey at Baylor in fall 1981 and was enrolled in the honors program. During his time at Baylor, Paul was involved in the swim team, head of the local chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, and the secret organization known as the NoZe Brotherhood. Paul also contributed to The Baylor Lariat. After leaving Baylor, Paul attended the Duke School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. in 1988. On August 5, 2009, Paul officially announced he would be running for the U.S. Senate as a republican. In mid-May Paul won the election by a 23% margin. Paul was being considered as a potential candidate for the 2016 election ever since 2013. He officially announced his candidacy on April 7, 2015. On February 3, 2016, Paul suspended his campaign and announced he would be supporting whoever the Republican nominee would be.

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20. Bryce Petty

Bryce Petty is a quarterback for the New York Jets. He played for the Baylor Bears football team from 2010-2014. For the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Petty played second string to Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence. In 2013, Petty was starting quarterback for the first time. During this season the Bears won their first Big 12 football title and went on to compete in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. In 2014, Petty led the Bears to their second straight Big 12 title and bowl game (the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic). Petty finished 10th in the running for the 2014 Heisman trophy. The Jets selected Petty in the 2015 NFL Draft and, on December 6, 2016, named Petty as the starting quarterback for the final 4 games of the Jets’ season.

 

Featured photo source: ew.com and theredlist.com
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Cammie Clute

Hi guys! My name is Cammie Clute and I am a freshman at Baylor University! I am a Film and Digital Media major and a member of Alpha Delta Pi.