Giving Back is the Best Thing
Retired teacher BETTY COSTLEY-OYERVIDES remembers the challenges she faced, now she wants to help other women succeed.
Betty Costley-Oyervides (M.Ed., ’79) says that she did not always think she was in the right place at the right time, but she has made it the right place at the right time. Today, at 83, she is enjoying the laurels earned through a lifetime of service.
Part of that service is giving back by endowing scholarships that will help students like she was — a teacher who made it a goal to complete a graduate degree and an educator who took on a challenging assignment.
Costley-Oyervides grew up in a family of teachers and preachers. “I didn’t want to be a preacher because my grandmother was a preacher and dragged me to her preaching gigs pretty regularly. I learned spirituals in Spanish and English. When I get together with one of my longtime friends, we sing those old songs in two languages, to see who sings the loudest!” she says with a laugh.
The octogenarian has seen it all, or most of it, and says exactly what she thinks. “My last name is a combination of my mother’s and father’s names. When I tell people my name is Betty Costley-Oyervides, they ask which of the names is mine. I say, ‘all of them!’ People ask me where I am from and I tell them my family has been in Texas since 1842, but we are all immigrants. I come from Irish and Mexican stock.”
As an undergraduate, she double majored in Spanish and English, and taught high school in Austin following graduation. After accepting a district-wide position in community development, she began commuting to Texas State for a master’s degree in education, specializing in organizational development. Originally established as a model for the college of business, organizational development was then something new to education.
In Austin, Costley-Oyervides was awarded a $12 million grant to assist with desegregation. “When I learned that the school district was spending $25 million to fight desegregation, I decided it was time to get on my horse and leave,” she explains. “I moved to Waco and took a job with the education service center, providing English as a second language and bilingual material and support to 12 counties east and west of Waco.”
She continued commuting to San Marcos for her master’s degree, a goal that took her six years. “While it was a struggle at times, being a nontraditional student was a gift. The other students were so courteous, and the instructors and professors recognized that we were adults trying to do something better.”
Along the way, she shifted gears again and found herself back in the classroom – albeit in an unusual setting. “I took a job with the Windham School District, which was the education system for the State of Texas prison system, employing about 1,000 teachers across the state.”
She began with English, teaching GED-prep and writing, but soon found herself using the organizational development skills she had learned, teaching “Turning Point,” a cognitive-emotional behavior therapy course at the prison. “I taught my students things they would learn if they were getting psychiatric help in the free world, but it was in a classroom setting. I could see people changing as they learned. I have worked in some seemingly futile, impossible situations, but seeing success has always been so rewarding.”
When she retired, Costley-Oyervides wanted to help others who, like her, work full-time and pursue higher education. “I was able to gift the Costley-Oyervides Scholarship to the College of Education. I want to provide a scholarship for those who are working, and who need financial aid to get them back into college this semester and next semester. I worked my way through college as an undergraduate and grad student – and know what it is like to not know if you can afford the next semester.”
She believes that giving this money where it is needed is the best thing she has ever done. “I said, ‘Let’s do this other one. Ten times bigger – 10 times more fun!’ ”
Costley-Oyervides has also named Texas State in her estate plan. She has established The Texas Women’s Endowed Scholarship with preference to junior and senior undergraduates or graduate students, preferably female, with financial need.
“Before COVID, I was invited to an event for donors (in the College of Education). I was able to meet students, see The Wittliff Collection, and visit with professors and staff. I so enjoyed talking with students all over campus. They were so helpful and friendly. They don’t have to be nice to strangers, but they are.
“I don’t know how one would teach this – but it is just the culture of Texas State University. I believe it is taught by example. I am very happy when I am on campus,” she says.
Costley-Oyervides exemplifies the art of leaving the world a better place. In more than 50 years of service in education, she admits that this has been the most rewarding. “I am proud of the Costley-Oyervides Scholarship, and the estate scholarship is even going to be even better. I am glad to be able to help young women who are struggling to balance work and school and are not sure how they are going to get through these last few semesters. There is so much joy in giving.” ✪
By Diana F. Hendricks
Hillviews Magazine, Summer 2021