When SueAnn Altman, of Wichita Falls, started her freshman year at Baylor University in the fall of 1990, the president of the university at the time made a prediction.
“We’re hosting lots of mixers, so girls and guys can meet,” Altman recalled the president saying. “Because we know if a Baylor Bear marries another Baylor Bear, they have Bear cubs.”
The children of Bears, according to the prediction, would likely become Baylor Bears as well.
In the Altmans’ case, the president was right about Bears producing Bear cubs.
SueAnn, of Temple, Texas, married native Wichitan and Baylor graduate Brad Altman, and their daughter, Brooke, begins her freshman year in Waco on Monday.
3 generations at Baylor University
The green-and-yellow of Baylor flows freely in SueAnn’s family.
Traditions are so strong that Brooke becomes the third generation to live in the same dorm room: Ruth Collins Hall, room 115.
SueAnn’s mother, Sue Steakley, called room 115 home starting in 1965, graduating with an elementary education degree.
The second generation of Bears, SueAnn, graduated with a bachelor of arts in communications in 1994 and a master of arts in communications studies in 1995, also calling room 115 home.
Now, Brooke, a 2019 Rider High School graduate, follows in their footsteps, remarkably beginning her freshman year in the same room.
Her father, Brad, a Bear, fulfilled his dream of returning to Wichita Falls once he finished law school and joined the practice of his father, former Wichita Falls Mayor Bill Altman.
Family photos detail a connection to Baylor long before Brooke would start deciding on a college for herself. When the time came to visit Waco, the campus was quite familiar.
“Brooke visited several schools but has grown up at Baylor homecoming, football games etc. and it has always felt like home,” her mother said.
Her roommate, Claire Keister, is also a Baylor legacy — both parents, Vicki and Alan Keister, of Amarillo, attended Baylor. Vicki and SueAnn were in the same sorority at the same time and have enjoyed catching up. Claire’s grandmother played basketball for Baylor.
“Baylor is big on legacy and tradition,” SueAnn said. “I think that’s one thing that attracted Brooke to the school. Plus the true Christian atmosphere. At the dance clinic junior year, she came out at the conclusion and said, ‘This is where I want to be, the team led a devotional before the clinic. I want to go to Baylor and be part of this team.'”
‘She’s living the reward now’
Once Brooke settled on Baylor, her mother said, the former Rider Raiderette put a plan in place to reach that goal, not only getting into the college of her choice but making the Baylor Songleaders dance team.
The Songleaders serve as ambassadors for the university in a variety of ways, including performing at all home football and basketball games and pep rallies.
“(Brooke) went into overdrive working on what she needed to make the (dance) team and ACT test-taking to get the score she needed to qualify for the Presidential Gold Scholarship,” SueAnn said. “It was exhausting at times, but she’s living the reward now.”
Brooke graduated from Rider High School with a 4.79 GPA, ranked 13 out of 373.
Ruth Collins Hall hasn’t experienced extensive renovations as some Baylor dorms, SueAnn said.
“But the tradition and community there still make it the most popular dorm for freshmen girls at Baylor,” she said.
The dorm offers community bathrooms, and room 115 is in the corner on the first floor. The building may be the same, but how the girls decorate those rooms has changed through the years.
Brooke’s decorations include grey and rose-colored linens, a plush throw rug, and baskets and lamps accentuating her selected hues.
“I had a black-and-white striped bedspread with a red throw pillow and a bulletin board,” SueAnn said.
“I’m not even sure we had curtains,” she said. “Now there are plenty of resources and dorm decor stores etc., and adding personal touches and decor can really make the room feel cozy and like home.”
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