The William and Argye Hillis Scholars in Biomedical Science Program
What is the purpose of the Hillis Scholars program?
The Hillis Scholars Program is a community of select Pre-Medical scholars at Baylor University who receive mentoring, guidance, and instruction from distinguished Baylor faculty and physicians. The purpose of the Hillis Scholars is to empower and equip Pre-Medical undergraduate students who seek to live purposeful, meaningful lives as physicians. Hillis Scholars are expected to embody a standard of excellence among the Pre-Medical community at Baylor as they uplift, encourage, and foster growth among the Baylor Pre-Health community at large. Through specialized research experiences, unique shadowing opportunities, and mentoring relationships with physicians, high-achieving students who plan to become medical practitioners can distinguish themselves and become highly competitive for positions in top graduate programs and medical schools. The experiences provided through the Hillis Scholars program make Baylor students even more competitive for prestigious national and international academic awards.
Dr. William Hillis (1933-2018) represents fully the majesty of scholarship, the servanthood of great teaching, and the commitment to Christ’s directives that characterize Baylor University’s highest goals as reaffirmed in the University’s Pro Futuris strategic plan. He has made a profound difference in the surrounding prehealth studies at Baylor, and his efforts have empowered countless students interested in this field to realize their full potential.
Dr. Hillis’s mentorship has produced generations of conscientious young scholars -- scholars who have gone forth seeking to improve the world through intentional action in research and global service. As a consequence, Baylor has become a haven for students who desire extraordinary mentorship as they prepare for careers in the health professions and biomedical sciences.
Dr. Hillis announced his retirement in the spring of 2012, after more than 30 years spent at Baylor as a teacher and administrator. At that time, officials from the College of Arts & Sciences approached him about their desire to develop a scholars program in his honor. Such a program would support and enrich undergraduates in the field that most fully represents Dr. Hillis’s academic and professional passion -- biomedical research.
Dr. Hillis made certain that every student he mentored was able to maximize this aspect of their pre-health education. One case in point is the undergraduate experience of Taylor Kohn, a May 2013 Baylor prehealth graduate. During his time at Baylor, Taylor was mentored by Dr. Hillis, and was chosen as both a 2012 Goldwater Scholar and a 2013 Fulbright Scholar. His Fulbright research degree was taken at the University of Manchester, England, and Taylor soon began his medical studies at Baylor College of Medicine.
The William and Argye Hillis Scholars in Biomedical Science Program, created by the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences, includes the following key features:
Mentorship, scholarship and resources for select undergraduates on the Pre-Medical track
- Undergraduate students are selected to receive scholarship support for as long as they are participating in the program -- with a maximum participation period of four years.
- Weekly family dinners with Dr. Sparky Matthews and other Hillis Scholars
- Student interest in biomedical research and clinical practice is cultivated through hands-on research opportunities, shadowing opportunities, and mentoring by faculty who help guide students into excellent internships and summer research programs.
- Applications are encouraged from and preference considered for those Baylor applicants who have financial need, or who are first-generation college students.
- Students are integrated into a scholarly community and have opportunities to enjoy enriched mentorship from Baylor faculty, as well as interaction with guest speakers and fellow Hillis Scholars. The goal is for students to learn clinical and bench research strategies, foster community among Hillis Scholars, and gain wisdom from distinguished physicians and Baylor faculty.
Program-sponsored support includes a combination of annual scholarship aid and the following:
- Programming funds to support travel to conferences and special off-campus events
- Exposure to a broad understanding of summer research opportunities
- An expert advocate to connect students to meaningful and optimal research opportunities at Baylor
- Connections with constituents on and off campus who support undergraduate biomedical research, clinical exposure, and shadowing
- Specialized advising to ensure that students are taking advantage of the breadth of opportunities that the program provides and specialized upper-level courses at Baylor