By Liliana Marquez
After dedicating more than 20 years as an instructor for the East Los Angeles College Computer Applications and Office Technologies Department, Brenda K. Baity decided to retire at the end of the semester.
“Teaching is my life. It’s what makes me happy, for the most part. It’s satisfying and it makes me feel like I’m giving back to the community and to the students,” Baity said.
Baity was hired by former ELAC President Ernest H. Moreno in 1992 and has been teaching full-time since.
The opportunity to apply for a teaching job at the CAOT Department came when a friend of hers got an invitation to apply for the job.
Her friend decided not to apply, so Baity asked her if she could apply instead. “The rest is history and here I am since 1992,” Baity said.
Baity, 67, said she decided to retire while she is still healthy and able to do things. She said she wants to have a bit of a simpler life in terms of responsibilities.
“One of the beauties of teaching is that–after I take one semester off–that’s the state law that requires an instructor who retires to take a semester off–I can come back and teach hourly,” Baity said.
She wants to do some volunteer work and also spend more time with her family, but she said that making that decision was difficult for her.
“Even now I feel a little weird about it and wonder if I should have done this. Especially when everybody is so nice and (ELAC) is just a great place to work. I just love it. I think I made the right decision,” Baity said.
Baity was planning to retire before, but her life took a 180 degree turn when her husband, Glenn Vice, an Economics and Real Estate instructor at Mt. San Antonio College, became ill.
“I had planned to retire five years ago when I was 62 with my husband and just as we were making plans for retirement, he became ill and he ultimately passed away of cancer after a few months,” Baity said.
At that point, she still wanted to retire, but was advised not to make a big change in her life. She decided to stay at ELAC and maintain a normal life.
“When I lost my husband five years ago, everybody just gathered around. I had to stay at the hospital,” Baity said. “Nobody ever said, ‘Get back to work.’ It was just like, ‘Do what you have to do’ everybody has just been so great and so nice to me.”
Baity said that the she is really close to the other six full-time CAOT Department faculty members.
“We work really well together as a team and one of the members of the team is leaving, so somebody new is coming on board and it’s just going to be a big change for everybody,” Baity said.
For CAOT Department Chair Elaine Shibata, Baity has been a lovely, vivacious, friendly and helpful person.
Shibata said that the faculty at the CAOT Department was sad when they heard the news of Baity retiring.
“She’s been very dedicated to the students, to the department and to the college. She enjoys being involved with activities and she gives her whole self to whatever she does,” Shibata said.
For 18 years, she was the faculty chair for accreditation.
“I had many responsibilities. Accreditation occurs on a six-year cycle, so after 18 years it was time for new blood, so to speak, and I think I was just tired of it. It’s a lot of responsibility,” Baity said.
Baity, a native from Salisbury, North Carolina, graduated from Pfeiffer University where she met Vice.
At the time, even though they were not married, she decided to come to California with him, so he could attend graduate school at the University of Southern California.
After she graduated from college in 1969, she went to school part-time to take graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Baity came to California in 1971 and got a job as an instructor, but quit in 1974 to attend California State University, Los Angeles where she got her masters degree in business education.
While at CSULA, Baity was hired to teach full-time by the Office Administration Department to take the place of a professor who was going to be in a sabbatical for a year.
She left CSULA in 1977 and went to California State University, Northridge where she taught for 16 years as a lecturer because she didn’t have a doctorate.
Baity came to ELAC, and for her, it was the best thing she could have done.
“I love the (ELAC) students. They are more appreciative of what we do for them and how you work with them, how you help them and that’s not what I felt at a university,” Baity said.
Although Baity retires from teaching full-time, she plans to come back and teach one or two classes.
“I am actually planning to return next spring, so I am going to ease out. I can’t just sever the tie. I love it too much,” Baity said.