Gail Offringa (Baylor Parent of ’14, ’17)
Director of Parent Engagement
Favorite Bible Verse: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)
Favorite thing about Baylor: God is at the center of it all. Professors, faculty and staff pray for the students. While never perfect, you can’t go wrong when God is the foundation.
Favorite thing about Waco: Waco is a small town city that is blossoming into a wonderful gem—the people, the loving atmosphere, and the opportunities for creative minds to turn their dreams into reality.
I patted myself on the back many times in 2011 for how well I prepared my oldest daughter, Olivia, for college that fall at Baylor University. I wore badges of honor for building a well-rounded high school resume of great academics, a lifetime of volunteerism, and athletic prowess, as I fostered and supported her to excel in these areas while growing up. Enthusiasm for her college experience and future vocation permeated our household for years. However, there was one major flaw.
I didn’t prepare myself properly! I judged that my excitement for her new endeavor meant I had a healthy, balanced outlook, but that was not accurate. I loved to meet her new friends, eat at the restaurants she found in Waco (there were only a few back then), and cheer on Baylor as we watched football games from afar in Massachusetts, hoping to see her "run the line" on television. These were the only ways I connected to her new life as a Baylor Bear. Now I know there is so much more.
I was so incredibly grateful that both Olivia and Abigail attended Baylor and were blessed with a topnotch education that prepared them so well for their future careers. The best part is that the university is unambiguously Christian. I watched them grasp their own walk with God – a walk that they must take for themselves – and grow in their faith and confidence in Christ, usually through trying circumstances. Many times it was hard to sit back and let them find their way, but it is their way that they had to discover.
What would I do differently? I would get to know Baylor better. Not to interfere in their journey, but to try and relate more in conversations with them during that journey- to understand what they meant more clearly as they shared their new life with us. They had roommate struggles, like most, health issues, academic challenges, victories, and disappointments. We supported them but could have known more to help them better.
I could have started a Parents in Prayer group but didn’t know about it, attend a Send-Off party, but did not pay attention to it or seek out information. My family jokes today that I never sent one Care Package, the very things we promote in my office now! Why? Because I am a terrible parent? No. Because I did not process through my own difficulties that were hidden within the exuberance I felt of letting them go.
God saw to it to lead them to Baylor. He put them in good hands. I allowed them to handle life as they matured immensely during their time here – and we matured and grew as well. We have beautiful, grown adults that are discovering their calling – despite our shortcomings and under the leadership of God. That’s why I love Baylor and what I want every parent to know.
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