Baylor Medical Humanities Graduate, Public Health Grad Student Win Rotary Global Grant Scholarships

June 7, 2013

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (June 7, 2013) - Recent Baylor University graduate Stephanie Allen of Lake Jackson, Texas, and current graduate student Austin Cook-Lindsay of San Angelo, Texas, have been named 2013-2014 Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholars, a new program that provides $30,000 scholarships to support students' graduate-level academic studies in areas that relate to Rotary's areas of focus around the world.

"The Rotary Club of Waco and the Rotary Foundation are extremely proud to have named Stephanie Allen and Austin-Cook Lindsay as the 2013-14 Rotary Foundation Global Grants Scholars," said Herb Bristow, BBA '78, JD '81, a former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar who chairs the Global Grant selection committee for the Rotary Club of Waco. "They are both exceptional and will contribute in a big way to the objectives of the Foundation to promote international goodwill while working to solve important world public health issues. Baylor University clearly played a major part in their development in achieving this honor and should be proud of their accomplishment."

Rotary Foundation Global Grants support scholarships, humanitarian projects and vocational training in one or more of Rotary's six areas of focus: (1) peace and conflict prevention/resolution, (2) disease prevention and treatment, (3) water and sanitation, (4) maternal and child health, (5) basic education and literacy and (6) economic and community development.

The Rotary Global Grant will allow Allen, who earned her bachelor's degree in biology and medical humanities from Baylor in May, to pursue a master's of science degree in reproductive and sexual health research at the renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Cook-Lindsay, who earned his bachelor's degree in environmental science in 2011 and is pursuing his master's of public health degree at Baylor, will use his Rotary Global Grant to work on a postgraduate diploma in rural health at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Allen decided to apply for the grant because she found Rotary's areas of focus "align very well with the goals of my career and my life." She has participated each of the past three summers in the non-profit Straw to Bread, administered by Lisa Baker, M.D., Ph.D., a physician and clinical faculty member in the Honors College at Baylor. It was during the first of these trips that she discovered her calling: improving healthcare for women and children in developing nations through clinical research, medical relief work and program design within the context of sustainable relationships.

"Rotary's areas of focus, specifically maternal and child health and disease prevention and treatment, aligned well with the work I have had the opportunity to do while at Baylor through mission work and research, as well as book discussions and conversations among members of the student organization I started at Baylor called Students Interested in Global Health Today (SIGHT)," Allen said. "After engaging in multiple research projects in Kenya pertaining to women's health, I ultimately wrote my Honors thesis on original data collected in Kenya and titled it 'The Effect of Education, Contraception and Reproductive Health Knowledge on Unplanned Pregnancy and Child Death in Rural Western Kenya.' During this project, it became clear that obtaining a degree in reproductive health research focused on developed as well as developing world issues would be the next step. I found this ideal program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that combines a rigorous degree in epidemiological and public health research with the study of reproductive health."

After spending 2013-2014 in London as a Rotary Scholar, Allen will attend Baylor College of Medicine, where she hopes to become an obstetrician-gynecologist or pediatrician involved in global health.

As an undergraduate at Baylor, Cook-Lindsay first heard about the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship through fellow student Robert Kent, a 2010 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship recipient who earned a master's degree in economic/environmental development at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. After first applying for the scholarship himself, Cook-Lindsay realized he wanted to be involved with Rotary for many reasons beyond receiving a scholarship.

"I spent some time in Washington, D.C., during the summer and got involved with Rotaract (the branch of Rotary for college students and young professionals) and realized how many cool people are involved with the organization and all the amazing work they do," Cook-Lindsay said. "I then spent a year teaching English overseas in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan (as a Fulbright Scholar) and then came back to Baylor to complete a master of public health degree. Although my mom was happy to have me back in the USA, I still felt called to do more work and learn more overseas, which led me back to re-applying for the Rotary scholarship."

For Cook-Lindsay, an unnerving experience overseas cemented his dedication to pursue a calling to serve others through public health. While attending an educator's conference in India, he suffered a Grade Three concussion when the car in which he was riding crashed.

"I had been taken to a hospital in Delhi. Medical waste spilled out of overflowing trash cans and seemingly hundreds of sick people lined the hallways as the understaffed medical team sought to treat everyone," Cook-Lindsay said. "My experience with a hospital in a country with high rates of poverty and infectious diseases solidified my commitment to serving others through international public health and has inspired me to study for a postgraduate diploma in public health in either rural health, maternal and child health, or health systems and policy at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa."

After completing his degree as a Rotary Scholar, Cook-Lindsay plans to continue serving others globally through health education and public health efforts. He also is considering pursuing a medical career as a physician assistant, for which he has been taking prerequisite classes at McLennan Community College while working on his master's degree at Baylor.

As undergraduates, Allen and Cook-Lindsay chose Baylor for the strength of its academic programs and world-class faculty, as well as the multitude of opportunities to serve that are available to students.

"I saw Baylor as a place where I could thrive intellectually as well as personally," Allen said. "I would also have the incredible opportunity to interact with Baylor faculty and students on a one-on-one basis through smaller classes, research projects, mission trips and much more. I have had some of the best friends and mentors, traveled all over the world, participated in incredible projects and trips, interacted with scholarly works and written an Honors thesis, as well as increased my capacity for helping, caring for and learning from others."

"I fell in love with Baylor when I visited as a high school student and immediately knew it was the place I belonged," Cook-Lindsay said. "I had such a great experience during undergrad that I applied to come back for the master of public health (MPH) program, which offers many unique opportunities that make it truly exceptional. I have been mentored by amazing professors, had the opportunity to both teach undergraduate students in the course HED 1145 (Health and Human Behavior) and will be going to Brazil this summer to work as a health education intern."

Rotary International is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary Club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.

The Rotary Club of Waco - recently commended by Rotary International for 100 years of service and growth - is part of District 5870 and has strongly supported Ambassadorial Scholarships, sponsoring 47 Ambassadorial Scholars since 1956. Under the leadership of incoming District Governor Rich Kaye, District 5870 provided $15,000 in District Designated Funds (DDF) that was matched by the Rotary Foundation's World Fund for Allen and Cook-Lindsay's Global Grants.

"The Waco Rotary has always been so supportive of our students; through the years, many of our young people have been blessed by a year of study abroad, thanks to this organization," said Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean of special academic projects in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences and scholarship liaison to the Honors College. "And now Rotary International is taking all the resources to an incredible new level. Austin Cook-Lindsay and Stephanie Allen have been joys to know and work with. They are representative of the best of what Baylor students can be as ambassadors and scholars."


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.