Snipes tells stories of Waco health professional heroes

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Campbell Wilford

Megan Snipes, marketing and public relations consultant at Baylor Scott & White Health, serves the Waco community through her dedication to bringing to light the stories of Waco’s health professionals. Especially now during the coronavirus pandemic, Snipes’ job holds great importance as she broadcasts the idea that an appreciation for our healthcare workers is so needed. 

Megan Snipes

Snipes grew up in San Antonio and credits her hard work and character to her father, who served as a pastor. Snipes talks in depth about how it was her Christ-centered family that shaped the woman that she has become today. As one of six children, she says she learned that anything you want in life you have to work hard for. 

 “My dad would wake us up at 6 a.m. every morning for prayer, which I was not happy about as a child, as a teenager, who needs a lot of sleep. But now looking back I totally understand why, and I’m so grateful that I had that influence in my life,” Snipes said. 

Snipes said she did not have a direct career path as she worked as a TV news producer and reporter at KWTX, the CBS affiliate in Waco, and then worked as executive producer of a lifestyle show in Austin. She encourages taking every opportunity whether or not it seems to align with an individual’s goals or not. 

“Everything that happens in life I think leads you to where you’re supposed to be. Random things give you little drops of knowledge that are going to help you, that you may not even know are eventually going to help you, but they help you in the long run,” Snipes said. 

It was when Snipes’ father passed away from Leukemia in January 2016, that she discovered her passion for the role of nurses and healthcare providers. Seeing the care and the compassion that the nurses and doctors had for her dad and for her family was “life changing,” she said.

Snipes says she jumped at the opportunity to return to Waco and work for Baylor Scott & White Health. In this position, she says she loves that she still gets to work with area TV news stations while helping other people to understand the length that the healthcare workers go to in order to take care of us.

 “I want people to understand that it is not hyperbole to call our healthcare workers heroes. What they do every day is amazing, and it’s really special. I think it takes a really special kind of person to be in healthcare, so I have the utmost respect for all of them. There is no price tag on what they do,” Snipes said.

Snipes tells the stories of both the healthcare workers and the patients. She says she hopes that telling patients’ stories will help other people who are either going through the same thing or could potentially prevent the same thing from happening to them. Snipes says the team at Baylor Scott & White-Hillcrest calls what they do “sacred work.”

“Work hard at whatever you do and treat people with respect and kindness no matter who they are because you never know who is going to end up being your boss. You reap what you sow, so you continually want to be sowing kindness and continually be sowing positivity so that that is what you can reap,” Snipes said. 

Campbell Wilford is a sophomore marketing major with a public relations minor at Baylor University. She is from New Braunfels. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

TeAnnah Shields offers styles to go

Special from The Anchor News

By Linda Crawford

Thirty-year-old businesswoman TeAnnah Shields says her business success derives from her consistency, professionalism, and quality of work.

TeAnnah Shields

“I have been braiding about 19 years,” said Shields, owner of The BeauTee Room, 121 N. Hewitt Dr., Suite B, in Hewitt. That’s half of her life. Eleven years old? Twelve? Talk about a lifetime of experience! That would be TeAnnah!

“As a child, I loved doing my sisters’ hair and babysitting because I got to play in the children’s hair.”

At that time, doing hair was a hobby for Shields. While many children played with dolls and two dishes, she played with hair. “Money was not an incentive for me. I simply and genuinely enjoyed doing hair.”

“It was always so satisfying,” she explained. During Shields’s teenage years, her mom would allow friends from school and a few adults to come over to get their hair braided.

“Imagine being a 13-year-old child having an adult client come from McGregor to Waco to get her hair braided,” laughed Shields.

Through the years, it became apparent that Shields had a gift, but wanting the best for her, teachers and family members were adamant about a career that included college.

“I know they wanted the best for me, and I did too. I honestly did not see myself as a full-time braider.”

Thus, such a business or career was never part of her plan. After she graduated from high school, of course, she attended college. Her education prepared her to become a dental assistant, but after working in this field for three years, she was laid off.

It was at that time that Shields used her God-given talent to make ends meet. Yes, God has a way of leading us right to his plan. Still, even in those trying times, it never occurred to her that God was positioning her to start a full-time business, perhaps for life. The old adage says, “The third time is a charm.” Shields worked a few other jobs but always found herself returning to her old love — braiding.

“It was the third time but this time, it stuck, explained Shields.

“I became overwhelmed with working a full-time job, braiding, and being a parent to my three chidlren. I soon stepped out on faith and became a full-time braider and later, a salon owner.”

According to Shields, when people come to her salon, “they enjoy the styles, vibes, and good energy there. The BeauTee Room is clean, fresh, and well-equipped to make customers come back again and again. After four years of braiding fulltime, Shields has a reputation of being the best. Clients book at least 30 days in advance and come from as far as two hours away.

Shields is now thinking about opening a second location with technicians whom she has trained to mock her work. Hours of operation vary and are by appointment only.

Prices range from simple styles like two braids for $45 to box braids for up to $300.

For more information or to book an appointment, call (254) 265-0433.

Linda Crawford, owner of The Anchor News, is an English professor at McLennan Community College, a motivational speaker, and author of the book, God, Destiny and a Glass of Wine (available on Amazon).

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.


This article was originally published in the March 2021 issue of The Anchor NewsThe Anchor News is a free, monthly publication of Crawford Publishing. The Anchor News is dedicated to serving the community and surrounding area, focusing on positive news and accomplishments of minorities.  For more information about The Anchor News including how to subscribe or where to pick up a copy, please visit The Anchor News website.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Overshown sees Waco through the eyes of Baylor athletics

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Audrey Patterson

The green and gold glow from the top of Pat Neff Hall. The twinkling lights shine from the Magnolia Silos. The red lights illuminate the historic ALICO building. A spotlight is shining on Waco, and its new and old attractions draw tourists and students to Central Texas.

Jovan Overshown

“[Waco] is so eclectic,” Jovan Overshown, Baylor University’s senior associate athletics director for external affairs, said. “People think of Waco as having this small, home-town feel, but it’s so much more than that. You can have that kind of close-knit experience, but you also have the energy, all the development, the building, the art scene and the boom of a big city happening here.”

Overshown joined Baylor Athletics in May 2017. She manages all aspects of the department’s external operations dealing with marketing communications, resource development, BaylorVision, creative services, and fan engagement.

“There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Overshown said. “But they are all elements that have something to do with telling the story of Baylor athletics and our phenomenal 500-plus student-athletes. … We get to promote the amazing things we are doing here, this incredible university, whether that be in written form or by visually showcasing something really impactful.”

Overshown’s work with Baylor helps her interact with the Waco community. With her job, she engages the community and fan base through different projects.

“Baylor Athletics has participated in Bears for Books to help with literacy issues within the community,” Overshown said. “Our football team specifically has done a great job of engaging schools, whether it’s reading to kids or just engaging with them.”

Waco has the beauty of being in Central Texas. Overshown expressed how great it is to be surrounded by family and friends, never too far out of reach.

When asked about her hobbies, Overshown joked that she couldn’t count work as her hobby. Instead, she spoke of her love for her family.

“I’m the type to invite everyone to the backyard,” Overshown said. “Let’s cookout, let’s grill and hang out. I’m very much one of those people that is invigorated by community, but I also love to zone out and go for a run.”

Overshown considered the question of where she’d go if she had a bad day and wanted to be cheered up. Her response: to head into nature.

“Cameron Park was one of the first places my husband and I visited when we first moved here,” Overshown said. “We would run the trails all the time. … It’s great scenery, and it makes you feel like you’re not in Texas.”

Overshown advises to “not prejudge Waco. Get involved in your church or in your school community groups or whatever it is because there’s so much you can do, and there’s still so much growth that can happen here. Be intentional, get on that email list, get on those discussion board forums, and just really tap in.”

Audrey Patterson is a sophomore journalism and environmental studies double major at Baylor University. She is from California. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Kelsey Baas encourages Wacoans to get involved in all that Waco offers

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Marquis Cooley

“I really love most the heart of Waco, … the supportive nature of small businesses that I’ve seen and really just how family friendly it is,” said physical therapist Kelsey Baas. 

Kelsey Baas

Baas is a mother and small business owner. Her love for Waco started after a college visit to Baylor University.

“Both my parents went to Baylor. And growing up, I said I’d never go to Baylor because I wanted to be different than them. And they were very smart and knew what they were doing. They scheduled my visit for Baylor during Homecoming weekend, and I fell in love with it,” Baas said.

After graduating from Baylor and receiving her doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Baas worked as a clinical specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital. After a few years, Baas and her husband decided to return to Waco, where she opened Compleo, a physical therapy and wellness clinic. 

Baas said an aspect that separates Waco from other cities, especially the big cities, is how it’s run by a lot of small businesses. She said to really appreciate Waco, people should get outside and get moving to see what the city has to offer. 

 “I would argue that there’s a lot more to do than you think, even if it’s not what you’re used to in the big cities,” Baas said. “Maybe we don’t have as many restaurants or as many shops, but I would argue that a lot of our businesses here are even more special because they are almost all family owned and supported.” 

There are people who believe there is nothing to do in Waco, but Baas said she thinks it’s because they aren’t aware of what’s available. She gave some ideas as to how people can get involved and enjoy Waco.

“A lot of people just don’t even realize what’s here. I think so many people haven’t been to all the different parks, … enjoying the outdoors and enjoying the parks and then really supporting the businesses downtown,” Baas said. 

The area Baas said she believes needs more support and attention from people in Waco is downtown.

“I think a lot of people we know don’t go downtown because they just think of it as a place for tourists. And really there are so many from Cultivate 7Twelve to Waco Cha doing a lot of really cool stuff, to boutiques,” Baas said. “There’s just a lot of different things going on in downtown that I wish more of our local Wacoans would get out and support and enjoy.”

When comparing Waco to the bigger cities in Texas like Dallas and Houston, it may not have as much to offer. However, quantity isn’t always better than quality according to Baas.

“Sometimes having a little bit less to do means you form better relationships because you can actually spend quality time with people and you’re not always distracted bouncing to all these different things,” Baas said. 

Marquis Cooley is a journalism major at Baylor University. His love of sports and writing lead him to pursue a career in sports reporting. He hopes to one day report for ESPN. He is from Virginia. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Banker Haferkamp loves the family environment of Waco

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Nikita Delfin

Americans move on average once every five years, according to demographers, and “home” is now considered a temporary stopping place rather than a permanent habitation. 

Carolyn Haferkamp

With more than 250,000 people choosing to live in Waco and McLennan County, one might wonder what there is to love about the place.

Carolyn Haferkamp, president – chief lending officer of Central National Bank, Baylor alumna, and Waco native, says it just so happens to be the people. 

“It’s the family environment,” she said. “I think that so many people that we know, beyond their own families, have this great friend group and support system. Everyone just takes care of everyone, and that’s what I appreciate the most about it.”

It is this same family-friendly and supportive atmosphere that leads Haferkamp and other Wacoans to improve the welfare of the community. And this civic engagement and participation is vital.

“I think that as a community we take for granted some of the services, activities, and opportunities we have,” she said. “All of those things are usually volunteer-driven and without volunteers who are serving on the boards, showing up every day, sorting through donations and helping an event take place, those things wouldn’t happen.”

Regardless of age, background or the stage of life someone might be in, Haferkamp said anyone and everyone can truly benefit from participating in community engagement programs.

With Waco being a bustling college town, she encourages college and university students to reach out to the city’s bigger organizations. 

“For a Baylor student, I would not necessarily recommend Junior League of Waco because it is a long-term commitment but reach out to some of the bigger organizations who touch many different agencies like Act Locally or United Way,” she said. “Ask them where the opportunities are and say that you would like to serve.”

For young professionals who are more sure about staying and residing in Waco, she recommends the Junior League. Haferkamp, herself, has contributed 10 years of active service with the Junior League and is currently a sustainer.

The Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and strengthening the community through creative solutions to current and future challenges.

“It allows you to see every little facet of Waco and where the different needs are,” she said. “We have this very robust secondary education system with Baylor, TSTC, and MCC, but the level of poverty and preschool education availability are areas where we could improve.”

Aside from directly benefiting those in the community, Haferkamp said volunteering and participation are excellent opportunities to bond with your fellow citizens. More importantly, it is something that is fulfilling and rewarding. 

“It plugs you in, not only with the community, but also to a social circle,” she said. “It connects you to people who are like you, but also, it’s good for your own self-fulfillment. Being involved in the community is taking ownership, and I think when you take ownership, you enjoy it more.”

Nikita Delfin is a junior English major from Brenham who hopes to one day teach literature to people of all ages.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Pediatrician works to prevent child sexual abuse

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Brittany Tankersley

What began as a small puppet show at the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims & Children in 2008 quickly became a way for Waco families to safely educate their children.

Dr. Soo Battle

By 2010, this puppet show became what is now called Camp Careful, a program dedicated to educating Waco families about abuse prevention. According to the Camp Careful website its mission is to “reduce and prevent child sexual abuse through child empowerment, family education, and community awareness.”

Covering topics such as “good touch, bad touch, body autonomy, and consent,” Dr. Soo Battle focuses on age-appropriate sexual advocacy education.

Battle is a board-certified, licensed pediatrician who works part-time in a pediatric practice in Waco

“I’m really teaching it in the context of how do you keep your kids safe?” Battle said. “I go over general safety rules at the beginning of the classes, so the kids understand, ‘Oh, yeah, my parents have rules to keep me safe all the time.’ So I teach it in that way. It’s not about sex. I don’t ever really talk about sexual acts. It’s more about protecting their body and what private parts are and what private means.”

Many parents are uncomfortable discussing these topics with their children. However, educating children on not only the dangers of predators but also the many questions they have can be more valuable than foregoing the awkwardness. 

“If they are asking then it is upon us as parents to teach them and give them the answers in an age appropriate manner,” Battle said. “Answer as little as you need to, to fulfill their curiosity, but don’t lie to them. And don’t make up something in a fantasy answer. Because if they think that that doesn’t make sense, or if they hear it from somebody else, then they’re in conflict with what you have told them.”

Camp Careful offers Waco families an easier way to tackle these necessary but difficult conversations via six programs varying by age groups and topics, and there are even private sessions with Battle. 

According to the Camp Careful website, over 9,000 parents and children have attended its abuse prevention sessions through public classes or private speaking engagements since 2008-2021. But why Waco? 

“We love raising our families here,” Battle said. “It’s close to things if you want the big city thing. You can go to Dallas or Austin quickly, but the small town atmosphere is here. And you get a sense of community and not all the headaches of being in a big city.”

Raised in Austin, Battle graduated from Westlake High School and then the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts honors program. She earned her medical doctorate from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 2000.

Waco’s family-oriented yet still exciting lifestyle makes the city the perfect place for Camp Careful to call its home, she said. 

“There’s a million things to do,” Battle said. “From little kids with Cameron Park Zoo to the Mayborn Museum. There’s lots of organizations to volunteer in. There’s lots of churches to join, if that is your thing. There’s great schools all over. We love Waco.”

Camp Careful is one of the many organizations that call Waco its home, however, it is one of the few that deeply protect and advocate for the education and protection of its youth. 

Brittany Tankersley is a junior at Baylor University studying journalism. She is from Tennessee. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.

Entrepreneur applauds & helps Waco business development

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Lakesyn Melia

Veronicka Thompson-Smith came from a small town in Oklahoma to Waco in fall of 2002 as a freshman undergraduate student at Baylor University. The city has made quite the impression on her, as the longest she’s been away since her arrival was a six-month internship. 

Veronicka Thompson-Smith

After graduating, she spent 10 years working in the admissions office for the university. In January this year, she accepted a role as an executive assistant at Magnolia. She is also a board member of the Waco Downtown Farmers Market and the Amberley Collaborative, a local nonprofit that works to strengthen support systems for individuals who face challenges, such as disabilities, in the community.

Thompson-Smith also leads the Waco chapter of TuesdaysTogether, an organization created for creative entrepreneurs to connect and to foster community over competition.

“One of the reasons why I love Waco is just the opportunities,” she said. “When I came here in 2002, Waco definitely wasn’t what it is now. You just didn’t have the growth you have now.” 

As an entrepreneur, Thompson-Smith said she has seen Waco become a hub for people wanting to start their own businesses. She said she believes the timing was just right for the city and Wacoans. The emergence of the Magnolia business has helped, but what the local residents had to offer was the biggest contributor. 

“I’ve seen it go from no food trucks at all to now: Union Hall, Food Truck Park, and all these different generations of Waco and even Baylor,” she said. 

The city of Waco has seen a multitude of locally-owned businesses emerge in the past few years, and Thompson-Smith has been a major part of two of them. She started her own business, Flower and Ink Designs, in 2017 and took the position as community director of WacoWork in 2019. 

After graduating from Baylor with a degree in apparel design, she did not pursue her creative skills until she created Flower and Ink Designs. She has seen support through the Waco community throughout her 18 years living here. 

One of the aspects of Waco that Thompson-Smith appreciates is the size. She said that being able to see people you know wherever you go is comforting, and the community is special. She spent the past few months helping as treasurer for Councilwoman Kelly Palmer’s campaign, an opportunity only a city like Waco would make so accessible. 

Through her involvement in the community, Thompson-Smith has seen Waco in a completely different light. The business opportunities have helped her build relationships with people around her and participate in the continuing growth of the city. Her contributions are just one example of how someone got involved and enjoyed every part of it. 

Lakesyn Melia is a sophomore political science and public relations student at Baylor University, originally from Franklin, Tenn.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at ferrell@prosperwaco.org.