Stephanie Edwards, a 2016 Samford University graduate nursing alumna, established the Kevin Myers Memorial Scholarship for Missions in honor of her father. In her words, below, this is why she believes in Forever Samford:
It was a not a convenient time for me to return to school. My father was battling renal cell carcinoma, and a week before orientation, he passed away.
In the days leading up to his death, my father made me promise that I would fulfill my dream of being a family nurse practitioner. He would always say, “Your education is one thing no one can take away from you.”
You see, at the age of 36, my dad chose to further his education and earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. For six years, he worked full-time night shifts, napping in the college parking lot before attending class for more than six hours a day. He would drive home, take a one-hour nap, only to leave again for work. He excelled as a student, graduating with honors, while still managing to raise his family and be a strong, spiritual leader for his household.
I was only able to attend the first day of nursing orientation, and that was when I first heard about Samford’s mission trip to Honduras. I felt God speak to me in that moment, and I knew even in my time of grief, God had a bigger plan and a greater purpose for my life.
My dad wrote a letter to his family entitled, “God has a Plan.” He reminded us that even through sickness, heartache and yes, even death, God’s plan is perfect. At the time, I was unable to fathom the comfort and peace he found in this, knowing his time on earth was ending soon, but dad was right.
At first, school was a day-by-day battle for me. The program felt endless, and I allowed anger and bitterness to enter my heart. Then, I went to Honduras.
The trip to Honduras confirmed God’s plan for my life. God not only restored peace and joy within my soul, but he also filled the void of loneliness I had felt for almost two years. I was humbled to serve the people. Their joyful spirits were contagious. Despite their troubles, each person was still able to find something for which to thank God.
Yes, serving the people was a gratifying experience; however, that is not what changed me. God had a plan from the very beginning. He knew who was going on the trip and whom I could comfort with my story and testimony. Our group connected immediately, and we quickly developed a sense of family, a feeling and connection I felt I had lost after losing my dad.
Throughout the week, those seeds continued to grow and blossom into beautiful relationships. I no longer felt angry, bitter or lonely. I was happy
The Kevin Myers Memorial Scholarship for Missions is in memory of Kevin Myers, a devoted father, minister and lifelong student, who died Jan. 24, 2014, at the age of 52.
“I found keeping my dad’s vision and passion for life alive provide me the most healing,” Edwards said. “I believe sharing his story of how he persevered despite his illness can provide hope for others who question if pursuing school is the right choice for them.”
The scholarship will be awarded to a graduate student in Samford’s Ida Moffett School of Nursing to help subsidize expenses related to an overseas mission trip.
“Regardless of the circumstance, furthering your education and surrounding yourself with those who immediately take you in as family will always be the right choice. This type of experience is guaranteed at Samford University,” Edwards said.
Edwards and her husband, Ricky, a 2013 Samford nursing alumnus, will travel to Honduras with Samford again in July. Edwards will serve as preceptor on the trip for current family nurse practitioner students.
Sarah Waller is coordinator of marketing and communication for the College of Health Sciences.