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BAA Legacy Scholar’s Story: Leah Dudley

The BAA asked this year’s Legacy Scholarship applicants to reflect on what it has meant to be part of a Baylor legacy family and to grow up surrounded by Baylor traditions.  This week, we introduce Leah Dudley, a freshman from Temple, TX, who expects to graduate in May 2019 with a major in Communication Science and Disorders.  In the part of his application where she talks about her Baylor Legacy family members, she listed her stepfather, Dr. Robert Cortes ’76; step-grandfather Rev. Robert Cortes, MA ’68, who passed away in February; and stepbrother David Cortes ’04.   Leah’s parents are Louie Dudley III and Debbie Cortes, a registered nurse.

Growing up, I always knew going to college was in my future. Although I understood college to be a choice, it was one thing I had to do to be successful in life. I often wondered where God might place me, and he ended up providing me with a pathway towards Baylor University. This pathway was as clear as day once my journey began and I knew that He had a reason for setting my heart on attending Baylor.

Dr. Robert Cortes '76 , Leah Dudley (Legacy Scholar), mom Debbie Cortes, Audrey Cortes,  and David Cortes '04.
Dr. Robert Cortes ’76 , Leah Dudley (Legacy Scholar), mom Debbie Cortes, Audrey Cortes, and David Cortes ’04.

I dreamed for so many years about attending Baylor after listening to the remarkable stories/memories that my stepbrother, stepdad, and step-grandpa had made at Baylor. My stepbrother David Cortes ’04 (B.B.A. in Entrepreneurship) says his favorite memory is walking through campus and hearing the bells playing. It brought peace and joy to his heart. He now is working at Baylor in the Development Office and feels blessed to be able to give back to the University. My stepdad, Dr. Robert Cortes ’76, who majored in Biology/Pre-Med) remembers a day with the Orrick family (Mr. Orrick was 78 when he graduated with his Master’s at Baylor with my step-grandpa) and drinking Dr Pepper floats as well as sitting on the 50-yard line when Baylor beat Texas in 1974 (34-24).

My Baylor Family legacy began with my step-grandpa, Rev. Robert Cortes, MA ’68. Although he recently passed away, I can still remember him telling me about his favorite memory. It was 1964 and he was able to reconnect with Dr. Lyle C Brown at Baylor. Grandpa had previously met Dr. Brown while on his honeymoon in Mexico and Dr. Brown was working on his doctoral thesis in November 1954. Dr. Brown collected the information that year (1954) on the Cristero Rebellion that my Grandpa then used for his Baylor Master’s thesis with Dr. Brown as his thesis director.

My family’s legacy at Baylor has allowed me to grow up in an environment where I have been able to grasp the idea of some of the Baylor traditions. I have seen how much the colors green and gold mean to the former and current students of Baylor. They are the colors you fly with pride and dignity. Along with the colors, my family shows respect to the Baylor Bear. I have been surrounded by stuffed bears, bear pictures, and a multitude of other ways a bear can be shown throughout my childhood. Our family takes pride and ownership in having the bear as the mascot of Baylor. I was also taught at a very young age how to properly “Sic’em Bears,” which has also been a tradition around our house to help in the support of our Baylor Bear spirit. I have since used it at the many Baylor football and basketball games that I have attended to help cheer on the boys and girls and as well as at different functions that I’ve attended to show how proud I am to be joining the Baylor tradition this fall.

It has placed an imprint on my life by getting to be able to be a part of my family’s legacy at Baylor, and to carry on the traditions that I have been surrounded with growing up. I am excited to hear the bells ring every day and to partake in the Dr Pepper floats. I know that this is God’s plan for me and I am ready to step forward and take part in making my own personal memories at Baylor University that I, too, hope to carry on with my own family in the near future.

The Baylor Alumni Association awarded scholarships to 54 Baylor legacy students for the 2015-16 school year.  It’s a program the university doesn’t offer, and our goal is to give out more scholarships with larger amounts to help these students and their families pay for a Baylor education.  If you’d like to make a donation, please go to this page.  We will send a pair of Baylor BattleHands spirit gloves to anyone who donates $100 or more toward Legacy Scholarships (or renews their annual membership for $100 or more).

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