TJC graduate Julia Boucher is transferring to Baylor University this fall on a full scholarship, and no one is more surprised by that than Julia Boucher herself.
A Whitehouse native, Boucher graduated from TJC in May, with an Associate of Science in biology. She will continue as a biology major at Baylor, with eventual plans to be a veterinarian.
“I had never considered Baylor before,” she said. “It seemed like an out-of-reach thing, it was expensive, and going from Whitehouse to Baylor seemed unattainable. I had already decided that I would attend a university near here and then go to vet school. Baylor came in and wrecked all of that — but in a very good way.”
Since 1989, TJC and Baylor have had an agreement in which one TJC Presidential Honors graduate per year can transfer to Baylor on a full, two-year scholarship.
“Actually, the Presidential Honors program brought me to TJC in the first place,” she said. “I was in the top 25 percent of my high school class and looking for something academically challenging but close to home. The transition from high school to college can be difficult, and I didn’t feel ready to go off to school. TJC was the only school I applied to.”
One would think that her father, Dr. Cliff Boucher — dean of the TJC School of Engineering, Mathematics and Sciences — might’ve swayed his daughter’s decision to attend TJC.
“My dad was a big influence, but he also stepped back and let me do my own thing,” she said. “He let me forge my own path and choose what I wanted to do.”
During her time at TJC, Boucher flourished academically as well as socially. A self-described introvert, she pushed out of her comfortable, reclusive shell and got involved on campus.
In the second semester of her freshman year, she learned about the Baylor Bound application process and began researching the characteristics of past TJC scholarship recipients.
“They don’t have a certain set of criteria, but I noticed a pattern that people who earned the scholarship were active on and off campus and served the community in various ways,” she said, “so I decided to ‘go big or go home’ and make myself a better candidate by becoming more involved.”
In addition to taking all honors coursework, she worked on campus as a biology lab assistant and earned an officer position in the Alpha Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
She also continued her off-campus job as a vet assistant at Kingdom Veterinary Clinic in Flint, a position she’s held for two years.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a vet practically since I could walk,” she said. “My parents always had animals. I was maybe 5 years old when I got my first dwarf hamster. We’ve had a lot of pets. In high school, I showed cattle. Anytime I could dive into anything animal related, I did it.”
She continued, “I earned my certified vet assistant certificate in high school and started working there after graduation. During that training, we did rotations at a lot of vet clinics, so I got a lot of job-shadowing hours and got to see what happens behind the scenes. It was a great way to decide if this is really what I want to do.”
Working 50-plus hours per week at the vet clinic this summer has prevented Boucher from visiting Baylor in person yet, but she’s been keeping an eye on the BU social media.
“I love the community aspect on their Instagram,” she said. “It’s been a good way for me to get a feel for how they perceive their students and seeing their involvement. Now that I’ve gotten involved at TJC, of course I want to transfer and get involved.”
Asked if she has any advice for future TJC students who might be contemplating the Baylor Bound route, Boucher said, “I think the first thing is awareness of Baylor Bound and other transfer scholarships. “It’s such a great thing, I think more students should push themselves to do what I did and get out of their comfort zones, become more involved and apply for things like this. There are multiple transfer scholarships out there and I think they might go unnoticed.”