Derek (D.J.) Baiza '12

Derek Baiza

Derek (D.J.) Baiza ’12, went from a walk on at McMurry University to an All-America punt returner and cornerback, so it’s not too surprising that he has achieved so much since graduating.

Search Baiza’s name and be prepared to spend some time on the internet clicking on all the places he shows up. Baiza earned a bachelor of science degree at McMurry, with an emphasis on exercise science. Today, he is a clinical liaison for Kindred Healthcare in Dallas. But that’s just for starters.

He also founded Above the Line Marketing, a social media marketing company for the healthcare industry; is a “fitness You-Tuber,” writing individual exercise regimens and nutrition programs for people who subscribe to his service (Derek James Fitness), and is a public speaker. How does he manage to do all that? No problem.

“Time management,” he said, “It’s something I learned at McMurry.”

If anyone ever needed time management skills, it’s Baiza. He enrolled at McMurry after graduating from Post High School in 2007 as a baseball recruit before switching to football. At McMurry, Baiza spent hours with the football team, met all his class requirements, helped re-chartered Chi Omicron men’s social club, and was fitness director at Abilene Country Club and Fairway Oaks Country Club.

It wasn’t easy, but Baiza merely practiced the time management skills he learned and lived by a motto he has for everything he does.

“You better give it your all,” he said, “or don’t do it at all.”

Current McMurry students got to hear Baiza speak in October 2017 during the Leadership Excellence and Professionalism (LEAP) conference, which features alumni telling about how their McMurry experience prepared them for a successful career.

For Baiza, an important part of the McMurry experience was developing relationships, whether with other students or faculty like Dr. Cynthia Rutledge, a kinesiology professor.

Baiza is leading a whirlwind life right now, and he gives much of the credit to the relationships he built at McMurry and the education he received. Now, in addition to all his professional activity, he also likes to speak to college students who may wonder what’s ahead. He has an encouraging message.

“There is opportunity everywhere,” Baiza said. “You just have to want it.”

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