‘Mama Pam’ makes Collins cafeteria a home

Pamela Davis-Silmon stands at the front of her domain, Collins Café. Davis-Silmon has been serving up hot food and a warm smile in the dining hall for nine years.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Alyssa Maxwell

Her booming voice can be heard all the way across Collins’ dining hall. She always wears her hair in a ponytail and greets students she knows with a friendly hug and a kiss on the cheek. Unafraid to speak her mind, students count on this woman for her honest opinion. She influences students’ choices inside the cafeteria and out.

Dining at Collins Café becomes a different experience with Supervisor Pamela Davis-Silmon. Students who know her well call her “Mama Pam.”

Davis-Silmon has been working for Aramark at Collins for nine years. She started out in the dish room and worked her way up to her current position as supervisor of the front of the house.

“There really hasn’t been much change at Baylor, but I think that’s what’s good for them,” Davis-Silmon said. “Decor changes, but the friendly service stays the same.”

She has a close and special relationship with both the people she works with and the students who eat at Collins on a regular basis.

“I love Mama Pam,” said San Antonio junior Xavier Colbert, “and she is always there with wisdom and a kind word.”

Davis-Silmon said she has a special appreciation for the students she works with because she knows they can be relied on to do the work that needs to be done.

“I appreciate worker students a little bit more because they do the impossible, and I ask the impossible,” Davis-Silmon said.

A native Wacoan who lived in Waco her entire life, Davis-Silmon was born exactly where the Whataburger is now located across I-35. She was the oldest of eight children. She has three biological children and three step-children, but also considers her closest students her “babies.”

“Whenever I go to Collins, I search for Mrs. Pam before I do anything,” said Houston senior Mark Williams. “I make sure to say ‘hello’ to her before she starts accusing me of ignoring her.”

Davis-Silmon often interacts with the diners at Collins and is willing to talk with students about anything. She’s never afraid to give advice and is known for telling things as they are.

Students tell her about their lives and even introduce her to their parents. Other students have Davis-Silmon meet their girlfriends or boyfriends and offer them advice.

“I’ll always introduce her to girls I’m talking to,” Fort Worth junior Jonathan Jeffrey said. “She’s like my mom away from home — sweet, nice and won’t sugar-coat anything for you.”

Collins Cafeteria Hours of Operation

She is known for going above and beyond to serve the students she loves.

“One parent was a judge and she called me from the bench and asked me to get her daughter a birthday cake,” Davis-Silmon said.

In the cafeteria, Davis-Silmon sometimes assists with the Tex-Mex line. Although she is experienced in making flying saucers, flying saucers aren’t her favorite food in the cafeteria.

“I’m from Texas, so I love chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans,” Davis-Silmon said.

She even has an impact on students’ eating habits in the cafeteria.

“She will make you eat,” Colbert said. “She doesn’t like the ‘skin hanging on bone’ look.”

Through the years, Davis-Silmon has become a fixture at Collins, as well as a friend to many students on campus.

“Meeting Mama Pam was the best thing that happened to me at Baylor,” Jeffrey said.