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ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP: Meet Baylor's Civic Scholars
Eddie Davis
Thomas Nimon '20: The Data Analyst

As senior Thomas Nimon was watching a rezoning controversy brew in the town of Walden, adjacent to his hometown of Signal Mountain, Tenn., he thought getting personally involved would be a valuable learning opportunity.

“I spoke to Walden’s vice mayor Lee Davis about my possibilities, and he suggested I help out by logging citizen opinions concerning the rezoning proposal that included the construction of a large grocery store in town,” says Nimon. The development was the biggest ever proposed in Walden, so the issue garnered considerable attention in the local media. “It was incredibly divisive in the community. People were very passionate about it on both sides.”

“I was introduced to the workings of local government and some officials through Baylor’s Harris-Stanford Honors Program, and I’ve been interested ever since,” Nimon says. “The functions of local government are important to the community. Through this project, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how the government worked, how the citizens’ voices were expressed, and how the town officials responded to them.”

Nimon hopes to prepare for a career in medicine but with a passion for community as a guiding force.

Ridley Browder '20: The Grant Writer

Senior Ridley Browder has been a leader with Baylor’s Model UN team for four years and served as a chair at this year’s Southeastern High School Model United Nations (SHSMUN) Conference.

This past summer, Browder submitted a grant request, along with classmate Lucy Townsend, through Baylor’s Community Service program. The two received funding approval for the creation of a Middle School Model UN team of students that they tutor each day at Carver Youth and Family Development Center. “The schools that the kids attend don’t have resources to provide many outside interests for the students,” says Browder. “The Model UN program could be one way to provide more positive exposure.”

Browder and Townsend have been coaching the students on writing papers and public speaking, leading up to February’s MSMUN conference. “Most of the kids have spent their entire lives without a chance to explore outside the Chattanooga area,” continues Browder. “I hope this program will help them begin to develop a more global perspective. Model UN is about issues and solving problems, so maybe it will give them initiative to take leadership in tackling issues and solving problems in their own communities.”

Browder hopes to pursue his studies in the field of international relations and public policy.

John Liu '20: The Book Author

History buff John Liu, a senior boarding student from Tianjin, China, is fascinated with a book series titled A Little History that is published by Yale University Press but was disappointed there was no book in the series about his homeland.

“I could not find an introductory level book on the history of China,” says Liu. “So, I thought I would write one that is short, easy to read and understand, and covers the most important facts.”

Liu’s book, A Little History of China, which is not part of the Yale series, was published in October of 2019 by Tianjin Remin Press. “I can’t be compared to the writers that were published by Yale,” says Liu, who describes his book as a pamphlet, although the volume is 276 pages.

“In my experience, the people of the United States have misunderstandings about China,” Liu says. “China is more than food and economics and socialism. My hope is that people in other countries will understand China as an evolving and changing country. As a Chinese citizen, I want to introduce the Chinese heritage to other people in the world.”

Liu hopes to pursue his studies at the collegiate level in philosophy, politics, and economics.

Anika Iqbal '20: The Arts Advocate

In her third year as a volunteer at La Paz, senior Anika Iqbal donates one hour each week to teaching free art classes to local Latinx children at the Hixson Community Center.

For Halloween, she had her students paint her car. Well, not really. “We painted pictures on my car,” she laughs. “It was water-based paint, so it washed off in the rain. With painting, they can express themselves, their experiences, and their opinions.”

Iqbal has had to adjust her previous and, perhaps, loftier goals for the class and now just seeks to give the children something to enjoy and look forward to. “It’s tempting to ‘toot my own horn’ and say I’m making the world a better place with these classes, but I honestly don’t know what effect it will have,” she says. “I’m spending time with these kids, and we’re having a good time. I’m not housing the homeless or serving in a soup kitchen; I’m just doing something nice for someone else because they enjoy it.”

Iqbal hopes to enroll in a collegiate program, combining studies in art and journalism.

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