Counselor departs, begins retirement
EOPS icon bids farewell after 23 years of service
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 14:01
People who are often in the Student Services Center can easily identify EOPS counselor Ollie Baylis-Payne by her smile, positive attitude and a hint of purple clothing.
While being a part of the Extended Opportunity Program and Services for 23 years, students and staff agree she is truly an example of what it means to work over and above to achieve student success.
Providing hospitality and full support for anyone in need of help throughout her tenure, Dr. Baylis-Payne will retire after this semester.
Faced with the problem of being homeless and a mother, Sharon Payne, no relation, was having difficulties trying to finish school in 1997.
Attending Contra Costa College as an early childhood education major, Payne said she was fortunate to have Baylis-Payne as her EOPS counselor.
“She knew I was struggling. I didn’t have the means to get to class so she would buy me a bus pass every month to attend school,” Payne said. “If I was struggling with homework, she would sit down with me so I could understand and finish it.”
Payne said because of Baylis-Payne, she got the education she needed.
“She wanted me to learn and it was really hard because I had a disability,” Payne said.
“When it comes to personal issues, she tries to understand why you’re not coming to school and figures out how you can attend class.”
Baylis-Payne also keeps in touch students after she finishes helping them with their educational goals, Payne said.
“She doesn’t just walk away after she’s done with you. She will call and see how you’re doing.”
Moving to California from Alabama in 2003, Interim Dean of Students Vicki Ferguson was first hired as a part-time counselor at CCC.
“When I came to California, everyone seemed to be so busy that they forget the etiquette of greeting others,” Ferguson said. “But when I parked next to Dr. B, she would always greet me good morning.”
Ferguson said because Baylis-Payne is from Mississippi, Baylis-Payne’s hospitality was “over and above” and instrumental with the transition of moving from a different state.
“When I first started, she would leave small notes, checked on how I was doing and she even left me an EOPS T-shirt in my mailbox,” Ferguson said.
“Her nurturing my family and providing gifts for my kids during Christmas is a part of that southern hospitality, always thinking of others.”
Including the events on campus, Ferguson said Baylis-Payne thinks of others by providing donations.
“With faculty and staff showing interest in academic work and extracurricular activities, it builds character and encourages leadership and students to be successful,” Baylis-Payne said.
As she walks into her office to start the workday, she is normally found wearing one piece of purple clothing.
“Her favorite color is purple.” EOPS Outreach Coordinator Kenneth Reynolds said. “She always has at least one thing on that is purple.”
With a purple beanie, a purple long raincoat and a black umbrella with purple polka dots, hanging in the corner of her office, Baylis-Payne said she just likes the aesthetic it gives.
EOPS counselor Dionne Perez said with purple symbolic to spiritual healing and good judgment, the color suits Baylis-Payne’s character.
“(Purple) suits her well because she has never been judgmental,” Perez said. “People come in with their own personal issues and Dr. B has been supportive.”