Alumna and Former Professor to Support Tomorrow’s Teachers

Silvia Harris-Payne and family“Doors opened for me because USF was on my resume. I want to open that door for people of color…”

Silvia Harris-Payne (B.A. ’93, Ed. D ’00) has always been passionate about education. Now she is helping students to receive a transformative Jesuit education at USF. Currently a professor at San Francisco State University (SFSU) College of Business and a volunteer mentor at USF, Harris-Payne has planned to further her passion for education—through a bequest gift she has designated for USF’s School of Education to support tomorrow’s teachers in their pursuit of higher education.

A Guatemalan native, Harris-Payne came to the U.S. in 1970 to learn English. She earned her first degree in liberal studies at SFSU. After graduating and joining the workforce, Harris-Payne felt inspired to advance in her professional career. She continued to work full-time while enrolled in the masters of organizational communication at SFSU.

While attending graduate school, Harris-Payne saw several of her classmates struggle to pay for tuition, textbooks, and course materials, which made it difficult for some to stay enrolled. Since Harris-Payne had secure employment during this time, she felt fortunate to not experience those struggles and was inspired to ensure others pursuing a university degree in the future did not experience these hardships.

Eventually, Harris-Payne moved on to work at Visa International and returned as a student at USF to earn a doctorate in the organizational behavior program. After retiring from a successful business career, she began teaching ethics at USF and later taught marketing management. Though she is no longer teaching at USF, her love for education keeps her deeply engaged and involved with USF students as a mentor in the USF Alumni Mentor Program.

Silvia compares her younger self to some of her mentee students—eager but not yet clear about the steps needed to reach their goals. She finds great fulfillment in guiding each mentee in forming a personal map to their future career path and improvement.

“I am proud to be a Hispanic woman. I am blessed to be working so late in life, teaching and involved with young people,” Harris-Payne said. “If students can afford to go to USF with the money I leave behind, then this bequest is a gift to me.

“Most of my education was completed at USF where I became a more confident, well-rounded person. Doors opened for me because USF was on my resume. I want to open that door for students to have the opportunity for a transformative Catholic education,” she says.

Silvia Harris-Payne has created a legacy to support the educators of tomorrow. Learn more about creating your own legacy at USF by contacting the Office of Gift Planning at (415) 422-4163 or email


I give the residue (or a specific dollar amount ___ or ___ percent of the residue of my estate) to the University of San Francisco, a California nonprofit corporation, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, California 94117, to further the objectives and purposes of the university (or specify the school or program at USF).

The University of San Francisco’s tax ID number: 94-1156628