She knows how to read lips. She has to.
Without hearing aids, her world would be silent. At 18 months old, she had her first surgery. Since then, she’s had 20 more. Ask her about that, and she laughs.
That is Mallory Roy.
“Not a year goes by that I didn’t have a surgery,” she says.
That’s how Roy approaches her life – wide open, positive and faith-driven.
She has what one professor calls “quiet courage.” She has excelled both in the classroom and around campus, and she exudes a deep sense of empathy with her sorority and her service work at HPU’s community clinic.
Roy, an HPU senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is HPU’s Extraordinary Leader for the month of November.
Her campus accomplishments got her noticed. She is a Presidential Scholar, a Leadership Fellow, the president of the Kappa Delta sorority, a member of two honor societies and a University Ambassador.
For many visiting families of prospective students, she is the face of the university. But to Anne Staurovsky, she is the face of her favorite grandchild.
Staurovsky coached Roy in soccer. She also coached her in life.
“Be honest with yourself and know you’re capable to do anything,” Staurovsky would tell her.
The Caring Campus of HPU
Roy discovered HPU through her mom’s hair salon and her younger brother’s killer left-handed curve ball.
The Roy family – Jill, a hair stylist; and Eric, a car salesman – were headed to North Carolina to see their son, Foster, pitch in the USA Baseball Tournament 90 minutes west of High Point in the town of Cary.
When Jill told her customers about the trip, she had an HPU parent tell her about the university.
So, on their way to Cary, the Roys visited HPU. Their oldest child, their only daughter, loved what she discovered — the small class sizes, the availability of professors, the well-spoken students and the possibility of becoming an occupational therapist, her professional dream.
But there was also something even more tangible.
“I wouldn’t be another fish in the sea,” she says today. “I saw people cared.”
The Reciprocal Nature of Mentorship
Roy cared about people, too.
Like she did in high school, Roy started a Bible study group. Young Life College, HPU’s largest student-led religious organization, put her in touch with a local high school, and Roy befriended a handful of girls her freshman year.
Every week, they met at a local ice cream shop and talked about faith and purpose.
She also joined Kappa Delta her freshman year and became part of a Bible study group with the sorority. A year later, she became the sorority’s vice president of membership education.
She worked with two pledge classes, and like she did with the high school girls, she mentored her newest sorority sisters. One of her mentoring methods was writing encouraging notes to every pledge class member.
Roy wrote a combined 62 letters. Today, Roy still sees some of those notes stuck to mirrors and corkboards as positive reminders at the sorority house.
But while she encouraged her sorority sisters, they encouraged her, too.
Their support came last year when Roy dealt with the pressures of being the sorority’s president and knowing once again she faced another ear surgery. She hardly talked about it. But she did with Kit D’Anthony and Katherine Dunleavy, two of her sorority sisters.
They lived across the hall from Roy. They talked often, sometimes way past midnight, and D’Anthony and Dunleavy would leave Roy treats once a week in her room to help lift her spirits. Those treats included a chocolate chip cookie cake.
“The most important thing is that they gave me a soft place to fall,” Roy says. “They were there to listen.”
Reaching Out, Helping Others
Like Roy, her parents can’t hear well. Her dad is deaf in his left ear; her mom is tone deaf. She can’t hear beeps. She’s the one who taught Roy how to read lips.
Roy learned the importance of being a good listener at home. It helped her in school, and it helped her with people who could barely speak a word of English.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Roy learned to speak Spanish. She put it to good use in High Point. Last year, she became a translator at the Community Clinic of High Point and helped local Hispanics and local doctors understand one another. She hopes she’ll do it again next semester.
“They would see me, this little blonde girl speaking English, and I’d tell them, ‘No, I can speak to you in Spanish,’ and I’d see their eyes just brighten,” she says. “It gave me perspective of what my faith could be.”
Completing The Journey
In May, Roy will graduate with a degree in exercise science with minors in psychology and Spanish. She wants to become an occupational therapist that treats the population she worked with at the Community Clinic of High Point.
That doesn’t surprise Dan Tarara, chair of HPU’s exercise science department. Roy has taken two classes with him.
But what does surprise him is her hearing problems. He never knew until a few months ago when she asked him to write a recommendation for a scholarship offered by a company that makes cochlear implants.
“My jaw hit the floor,” Tarara says.
“To me, there are two things I love about her story,” he adds. “She came from good people. Her mom and dad have a lot to be proud of, and holy cow, she has such a quiet resilience, a quiet courage.”
In December, Roy will return to the acclaimed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for her third surgery. Her first was in April; her second in May. This time, doctors plan to put bones made of titanium into Roy’s right ear.
The operation is a big deal. Roy hopes she won’t need her hearing aids anymore, and after 21 years, Roy hopes she’ll be able to hear like everyone else.
Quite the journey.
Ask her about that, and she mentions her favorite Bible verse: 2 Timothy 4:7.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept my faith.”