Profiles: Allyson Cates

The News Magazine of HCU

Learn more about Allyson Cates, HBU director of Graduate Admissions.  

Read about her role, as well as the Graduate School as whole. 

Please tell us where you grew up, as well as a little bit about your undergraduate and graduate years.   

I grew up in Waco, Texas, and spent a great deal of my summer breaks on Baylor University’s campus, as my mom is employed there. As a fourth-generation Baylor Bear, I knew from a young age that I would attend Baylor. I received a BBA in 2007, double-majoring in Business Broadcasting and Human Resource Management, with a minor in Public Relations.  

I spent my last semester in New York with the Baylor in New York program, working as a publicist assistant for an entertainment PR firm in Soho. That experience was an incredible growth opportunity for me spiritually and professionally. It was the first time I had ever lived away from home for an extended period of time, and I was no longer surrounded by the people and places who helped affirm and grow my faith. However, I was surrounded by a new culture, new experiences and new opportunities to develop my character.   

After graduation, I worked in the Baylor Career Services department, and really enjoyed being back on the campus. I eventually moved to Dallas and began working for a global children and family services nonprofit. I received my MBA with a concentration in Management from Dallas Baptist University in 2014. 

Why were you drawn to the education vocation, and in the same vein, what motivated you to pursue a graduate education personally?  

During my time at Baylor, I participated in Student Foundation, an elite group of upperclassmen selected to represent the university at various events, and in several other capacities. Through StuFu (as we fondly called it), I raised funds for student scholarships, and I attended college recruitment fairs with the university admissions team.  

That’s when I got my first taste of the admissions world. I always knew I needed to be in a career that involved interacting with others on a daily basis, so of course, I was drawn to working on a college campus. I did not know that admissions would be where I would end up. The Lord very clearly led me to this role, however, and the opportunity has been an incredible blessing in my life.

Obtaining a master’s degree was always a personal goal of mine for a few reasons. Number one: I wanted to challenge myself; secondly, I love to learn; and thirdly, I wanted to set myself up to be successful professionally, and I knew that having an advanced degree would present opportunities I would not otherwise have encountered. 

How long have you been at HBU, and what have been your roles here?  

I started working at HBU in November of 2013 as the assistant director of Admissions for the Graduate School. Within a year, I was promoted to the role of director. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? 

I grew up playing the piano and participating in musical theater; I still enjoy supporting the arts by going to shows at the Hobby Center or the Houston Symphony as often as I can. I also love playing golf, participating in community theater, being active in my church and spending time with my friends and family. 

What are you most proud of among your accomplishments at HBU?  

The Graduate School Admissions team has experienced many transitions and changes in my time here, including leadership changes, the growth of program offerings, and a complete database overhaul, among others! Through any change, I strive to keep us focused on how we can best serve our students and prospective applicants.   

We achieved a major milestone in the fall of 2017 by enrolling 1,009 graduate students, which is the first time we’ve enrolled 1,000 students! Our graduate enrollment has grown by almost 90% since 2012! During my time as director, HBU also began its first doctoral program, an EdD in Executive Educational Leadership, and I oversaw the application and admissions process for our very first cohort. I was thrilled to be a part of that achievement in HBU’s story! 

What are some recent developments, and what do you see for the future of HBU graduate education?  

More and more, I feel like students are recognizing the value of a graduate education for professional and personal gain, and HBU will be here to help them achieve their goals! HBU has already moved to the next level as an institution, offering everything from certificate programs to doctoral degrees. We add new programs every year, and I’m thrilled to see the growth in our online area as well. With the addition of the Pampell Online Division, HBU is making many of our programs available to students who otherwise would not have attended HBU; we are expanding our reach and reputation far beyond Houston and the state of Texas.  

We now offer more than 25 graduate degrees, 15 certificates, and several state certifications for educators and counselors. All of our certificates, and 11 of our master’s degrees, are offered fully online! It is a very exciting time to be at HBU, and I’m looking forward to participating in the future growth of HBU’s Graduate School!