Many young people dream of going to college and getting a solid education at a Christian institution like Baylor. After her dream became a reality, Anita Collier Jones has made every effort to help the next generation's dreams come true.
As a young person in Henderson, Texas, Jones was surrounded by Baylor influences, particularly at her church. Among them was Dr. Jimmy Williamson, BA '57 (later a professor in Baylor's School of Education), who led the church's youth program each summer. However, it was her aunt, Muzette Collier Walters, BS '56, the first in the family to attend Baylor, who held the most sway.
"My interest in Baylor began as I idolized my aunt in those early years of my life," says Jones. "Also, I will forever thank my mother who wanted me to attend Baylor and receive a Christian education. I was the second child in my mother's and my father's families to attend college -- a dream come true for my family."
At Baylor, Jones was a member of the Atheneans, Baptist Student Ministries and served on the Student Congress for two years. She worked for one of her professors in the art department and grew particularly close to two legendary Baylor professors: Dr. Robert and Ann Miller.
"Dr. and Mrs. Miller became like family to me while I was in school," Jones says. "I am sure that this wonderful couple affected more lives than we could ever imagine. I was also influenced by the Millers' dedicated lives to our Lord and their service to Baylor students, whether in the classroom or their home. Seeing them with their children was a beautiful picture of a giving family."
Jones followed her aunt to Baylor, and her younger sisters, Sue Collier Daniel, BA '64, and Lynda Collier, BA '70, did the same. When Sue arrived on campus during Anita's senior year, Jones knew what a financial hardship it was for their parents.
"Both of my younger sisters took out federal loans, but I had not been burdened with a future financial obligation," remembers Jones. "I wanted to help them, but could not immediately as I was simultaneously joining the workforce."
Although she did not have the means to help her sisters pay to attend Baylor, Jones resolved to help others in the future.
"If you give someone an opportunity to improve themselves, it can be passed on from generation to generation," says Jones. "I am thankful if I can assist someone who desires a Christian education.
"Baylor has made a profound impact on my life and my family in so many ways," says Jones. "Even as a young couple, Dale and I recognized that Baylor was not an ordinary university, but one that molds your life and changes it forever. My love for Baylor and my identity in Christ has given me the desire to give back from that which God has blessed me. "
A strong Dallas-area advocate for Baylor, Jones, a full-time volunteer, serves on the Board of Directors for her family foundation, the Barnabas Foundation. She is currently on the Dean's Board of Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Jones also is a past president and Woman of Distinction of the Baylor Women's Council of Dallas.
"It is a treat to be involved in these programs with my Baylor sisters, connecting with ladies I knew during my student years and uniting with other Baylor alumni. Working together to raise scholarships for students and getting to visit with those students at a yearly dinner is a highlight of the year."
Jones also has supported many other Baylor projects, including endowed missions and nursing scholarship funds. She has enjoyed watching her contribution to the Barnabas Success Center prove fruitful for nursing students on the Dallas campus. Since opening in 2008, the center has provided students with important services, including tutoring, academic counseling, mentoring and supplemental instruction.
"When visiting the Paul L. Foster Success Center on the Waco campus, we were told what a significant difference the center had made for those struggling academically," says Jones. "We wanted our nursing students to have the same kind of resource. The Dallas center has been an asset for our future nurses. It definitely contributes to the learning environment."
Jones love of her alma mater has helped make Baylor a family tradition. Both her daughters and their husbands, Lee Anna Jones Lackey, BSEd '90, and Brandon Lackey, BA '90, and Leisa Jones Winters, BSEd '92, and Jimmy Winters, have attended Baylor. All of Jones' grandchildren -- Nathan (15), Jacob (13), and Luke (11) Lackey and the Winters girls, MacKenzie (15) and Maci (12) -- are avid Baylor fans. Jones' late husband, Dale P. Jones, was an Arkansas alumnus and former executive at Halliburton for more than 35 years. He served as a Baylor Regent for 10 years.
"As a family, we are bound up in Baylor and its mission. I am proud to pass this legacy to my girls and their families. I will continue to bleed green and gold and love those Baylor Bears. It is an honor to be recognized with so many I admire as a contributor to Baylor's important mission as a Christian university."