Baylor Payne’s parents married young and sacrificed finishing college to focus on their family, which he says had humble beginnings.
“We were a very low-income family at the beginning,” Payne says. “My parents lived in a trailer, and my dad was selling mobile homes.”
Their lives progressed. His father has worked for the National Federation of Independent Business for 18 years, and his mother has been in real estate since 2007. Payne inherited his parents’ entrepreneurial spirit and knack for sales.
“They’re both commission based; it’s feast or famine most of the time,” he says. “It’s a hard job, but I’ve seen the opportunities it has afforded my them.”
However, Payne’s parents couldn’t share much with him in terms of what college would be like. His father briefly attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his mother briefly attended community college.
“My parents dropped out of college to raise me,” Payne says. “They had very little knowledge about college, but they always had high expectations for me.”
Although not named for the University, Payne chose Baylor after looking at Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University.
“I was attracted by the business program and what it offered, as well as the Baylor’s Christian heritage and culture, and First in Line,” says Payne, who is a part of Baylor’s Leadership Living Learning Center and the Honors College. “And Baylor’s professional sales program is top tier.”
Payne says he was stressed about beginning college, calling it a fresh start in an unfamiliar environment with a lot of unknown people.
“The First in Line Success Academy helped me with that process,” Payne says. “We talked about what college is, what to expect, and what our day-to-day lives would look like. They helped us transition from high school to college.”
That transition included things people from families with a college background may view as routine, such as how and where to buy books and to how and where to register for classes. Payne says First in Line also taught him how to communicate well and how to easily make friends.
“College is, in itself, kind of an animal,” he says. “You have to learn how to do everything. You have to take it step by step.
Payne says his parents are very proud of him, and his mother still calls every day. The conversations often include explanations of college life, including the social element. Payne says he would encourage future first-generation college students at Baylor to take advantage of social opportunities in the first few weeks of the fall semester.
“Especially if you don’t come to Baylor with many friends,” he says. “You make unique connections at Baylor with people who come from all walks of life.”