Simple gesture of encouragement still impactful years later

By CSU Media | March 5, 2018
Amy Nolan-Roney

When Amy Lewis Nolan-Roney graduated from Charleston Southern University in 1994, she was accepted into a research program at MUSC. 

The biology major had graduated in three years, but even though her grades were obviously good enough, her confidence needed a major boost. “I kept questioning myself, can I do this? Will I be able to hold my own with others from much bigger schools? I had serious reservations,” admits Nolan-Roney. 

In 1999, she earned her PhD as a research scientist. But only recently did she tell the faculty and staff a story of how somebody’s faith in her on the CSU campus kept her constantly seeking her ultimate goal.

It was during her college years, that Nolan-Roney found herself in an etiquette class with Ms. Barbara Mead leading. Mead, who has worked with students for 50 years at the school in a variety of positions, developed a good relationship with Nolan-Roney and often helped her cope with homesickness or on days when she was feeling down. Mead has been the sympathetic shoulder and comforting counsel for many students through the years. In this case, she became even more.

When Nolan-Roney graduated, it was Mead who presented her with a beautifully wrapped fountain pen.  On the pen was inscribed Dr. Amy Lewis. “That will be your title one day,” Mead promised her. “This is in you.”

For the last 18 years, Dr. Amy Nolan-Roney, mother of three and a biology professor, has been teaching at Charleston Southern University. For years, she kept that pen on her desk and looked at it often.  It was more than a pen, it was a reminder that somebody believed in her, even when she doubted herself.

Nolan-Roney has shared her gratitude, personally, to Mead, but until recently, never revealed any of it publicly. “My degree was never designed to bring me back here to teach, but here I am.” 

Simple acts of kindness and encouragement should never be discounted. One never knows how important it can be to not only recognize someone’s potential but also to validate that recognition by taking a moment to communicate the possibilities of success and growth that lie ahead. It’s as if it was written by a pen with ink that never fades.

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