Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
I recently had the opportunity to return to my alma mater for a fun weekend with lots of other women. “Celebrating and Connecting Baylor Women” was the theme of this year’s Baylor Fling, a women’s reunion event that brings together generations of alumni, parents and friends to connect, renew and find inspiration in community. Fling began in 1983 when a group of women thought there was a need to gather Baylor women to return to campus as a group, get reacquainted with former classmates, friends and roommates and share their Baylor memories. It was a resounding success and became a biannual event held in April of even-numbered years. Its name is derived from “We’ll fling our green and gold afar,” a line in the university’s school song, “That Good Old Baylor Line.”
I first became aware of the event as a student worker at the Baylor Alumni Association in the late 80s, one of the jobs I held during my time at Baylor. I remember looking forward to the day when I could return to campus as an alum and participate in the event. Years later, my Mother and I attended, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and looked forward to returning every other year. We’ve probably attended eight or nine Flings over the years. Our last year to attend was 2018. We were all geared up for 2020, but of course the pandemic changed those plans. This year’s Fling was the first one held since the pandemic and it was so nice to get back, visit with old friends and make new ones. We were also looking forward to the programs and speakers. Through the years, we’ve heard a number of fantastic speakers discuss a variety of diverse subjects, including fine arts, drama, law, medicine, music, politics, sports, fashion and community service among other things. I’ve made the comment to several that even when the topic was something in which I may not have been interested, I always came away inspired and having learned something. This year we invited Andra, my sister-in-law, and were so pleased when she agreed to join us.
This year’s Fling featured thought-provoking keynote sessions focusing on servant leadership, community impact, cultivating self-confidence, the importance of authenticity and being true to ourselves. We began the two-day event Friday night in the Paul and Jane Meyer Conference Center located in the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, Baylor’s business school. We had a wonderful meal catered by George’s, a Waco icon, and followed that up with Dr Pepper floats, a traditional BU dessert. We were then treated to an inspiring panel of speakers that included Felecia Mulkey, Jovan Overshown, Katie Smith and Sophia Young-Malcolm. Members of the panel offered their insight on two discussion topics – “How To Have it All: Achieving a Work/Life Balance” and “Women in Leadership: How the Baylor Experience Prepares Student-Athletes to Succeed.”
Mulkey serves as head coach of Baylor’s acrobatics and tumbling team at Baylor and has won 11 national championships in the growing sport.
Overshown serves as Baylor’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs. She oversees all aspects of the department’s external operations, including resource development, strategic marketing and fan engagement, branding and creative services, athletic communications, BaylorVision and trademark licensing.
Smith, a former Baylor volleyball student athlete, serves as Baylor’s director of athletics business operations. She said she enjoys playing a role in giving student-athletes the experience of a lifetime that others gave her.
Young-Malcolm serves as Baylor’s assistant athletic director for player development. She played on Baylor’s first NCAA championship team in 2005, was a two-time All-American and one of seven players in BU history to amass both 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. At the time of her selection, she was Baylor’s highest-ever draft pick in the WNBA when she was the fourth overall selection of the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2006.
We finished the evening hearing from Megan Hundahl Streete, an Emmy award-winning producer and consultant who has helped produce Good Morning America, ABC News and Anderson Cooper 360. As a creative consultant, she worked for Grey’s Anatomy creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes. She has collaborated with top talent in media including Anderson Cooper, Connie Chung, Paula Zahn, Emeril Lagasse and Diane Sawyer. She now owns and operates Streete Media, a company that assists its clients in brand building, strategic messaging and developing unique content for digital platforms. She is also a founder and partner at Positioned South, which serves select high-profile clients with strategic consultation, training and crisis communications for national exposure.
I found her especially interesting as she started out a small-town girl, rose through the ranks in her profession to cover numerous high-profile stories, navigated several twists and turns on her career path, started a family and has experienced a number of “come full circle” moments. I could relate in many ways.
We reconvened Saturday morning in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Union Building. There were several vendors from which to shop as we also enjoyed a beautiful array of pastries, scones, muffins, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, coffee and tea.
“Cultivating Self-Confidence: Letting Others See Your Light” was the discussion topic Saturday morning and our first speaker was Cheryl Gochis, Baylor’s vice president and chief human resources officer. Throughout her talk, Gochis used gardening analogies to illustrate the ability to cultivate self-confidence and experience growth, including the importance of communication, change through flexibility and agility, and context without comparisons.
We next heard from Susan Peters, the founder and executive director of Unbound Global, a multi-national anti-human trafficking organization headquartered in Waco. Her work in missions ignited her passion to fight the injustice of human trafficking in communities throughout America and across the world. She has trained thousands of community members and professionals at conferences and events, served survivors and their families, and facilitated the beginning of new Unbound locations worldwide. In 2020, she published “Unbound: Working Together to Restore Lives and End Human Trafficking.” In it, she recounts true stories of the fight against human trafficking and leaves readers motivated to make a difference in their communities.
She shared harrowing, uncomfortable and heartbreaking stories with us on a topic that is far more rampant than many realize as it continues pervading our own backyards. She reminded us, however, that there is hope, and to look for partners in your pursuits and not try doing it alone. She emphasized the need for more advocates, stating that it truly does take a community to bring about the restoration that is possible from this menace. She said the building of relationships is what ignites that hope.
The culmination of our two-day event was the sharing of stories by Chef Darren McGrady, who served as royal chef to Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Princes William and Harry for 15 years and cooked for five U.S. presidents. Having lived and worked under the same roof as the royals, he naturally developed close relationships with them and shared with us sweet stories as well as an abundance of insight into their daily lives. Following the tragic and untimely death of Diana, McGrady and his family relocated to Dallas where he is now a culinary consultant, event planner, author, public speaker and owner of Eating Royally, a catering company. I came away with a signed copy of one of his books, “Eating Royally – Recipes and remembrances from a palace kitchen,” and look forward to preparing some of the dishes and sharing them in a future edition of this column.