It is with great sadness that I write this Editor's Eyeview. Kay Wilson, Psi Chi's Executive Officer from 1991 to 2003, passed away on June 6, 2003, after battling cancer. Kay will be missed greatly by everyone who knew her. She was a wonderful person, leader, friend, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother. We are all blessed to have known her, and we mourn her passing.
In her memory, Psi Chi has devoted this Fall 2003 issue of Eye on Psi Chi to Kay--to honor her and to record for each other and for posterity all the wonderful memories each of us have of her. Kay was a strong leader and a wonderful person who touched many lives. Please read through all the letters, stories, pictures, and comments that were submitted to the National Office in Kay's memory. Anyone who knew Kay and was touched by her will laugh and cry as she is remembered through other people's stories.
In the field of psychology, mentoring is a concept that is strongly recognized. Psi Chi conducts workshops at regional and national meetings regarding mentoring. Professors talk to freshman students about it, and Eye on Psi Chi publishes articles about its importance. Mentoring is not only important to the field of psychology, it is also important in the field of life!
Kay Wilson was my mentor, as well as my employer. I met Kay when I was an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and it was on that very first day that Kay began my mentorship. She taught me the importance of many things, both in my work life and my personal life. I still hear her thoughts and opinions in my heart as I write this.
As a mentor, Kay gave me the greatest opportunity available--a peek inside how a nonprofit company works plus the opportunity to work with an intelligent, sophisticated businesswoman. Kay hired me to work as a part-time merchandise mailer in the National Office, and she allowed Psi Chi to have a major impact on my life from day one. She treated me as a full-time employee and gave me greater responsibility than an average college student was granted. Kay spent three years teaching me all about Psi Chi and about being a career woman. She blessed me with her knowledge of business and later blessed me with a career of my own.
Kay offered me a full-time position at Psi Chi once I had graduated from college. What a wonderful gift--the security of a full-time position and the opportunity to work for someone I admired! After I was hired in a full-time position, Kay continued to guide me--from daily activities at the Psi Chi National Office to issues and decisions that she made as Executive Officer. Kay supported my decision to go to graduate school, and then rewarded me with more responsibility when I graduated. She nurtured me into the career person I am today, and I am grateful for her belief in me. She truly took the role of mentor to heart.
As I write about Kay, I think this is the most difficult writing assignment I have ever received, as an adult or as a student. How do you fully express what a person means to you with words? Kay was an inspiration, a model, and a person who taught me so much without even meaning to. She was my mentor, my boss, and my friend. She was there at my wedding and there when my first child was born. She shared many life experiences with me, and I shared many with her.
I remember, like it was yesterday, the day I returned from my maternity leave. I hadn't slept well the previous night or any night since my daughter was born, but that evening had been especially hard. Kay, with a caring voice, took the time to find out what was wrong. I shared with her how hard motherhood and working was turning out to be, and how I just wanted my daughter to sleep through the night once. Kay listened and tried to offer consoling words for a tired new mother. But what really set Kay apart was what she did the very next day. Kay, so concerned for my welfare (or could it be Psi Chi's productivity?), gave me a book. I looked at the title and saw Secrets of the Baby Whisper by Tracy Hogg. It was about connecting with your child, but it also offered great advice for teaching your child good sleeping skills. Kay mentioned that several people had recommended it and that it seemed to work for them. Needless to say, I didn't sleep that night either--I was too busy reading the book Kay had given me, trying to find the secret to make my baby sleep. That was so typical of Kay--concerned for all those who were in her life. She was selfless and compassionate to everyone.
In the simplest of words--Kay was a remarkable woman. I dread to think that my own writing skills cannot even begin to express how special Kay was and the impact she had on my life. I could cite example after example of how funny Kay was, how she loved great food and would ask for a "to-go" box before she even began to eat, and how at the end of every lunch she would push herself away from the table and ask everyone, "Why did you let me eat all that?" as she laughed, knowing full well that no one spoon-fed her all that food.
I visited Kay just days before she left this earth, and even then she was still thinking of others. I had been explaining to her about my attempt to cook banana pudding and what a disaster it turned out to be. Even with her voice so low and her breathing becoming very hard for her, she said, "Banana pudding--not hard!" I replied, laughing, "Yes Kay, it's hard for me!" And then several minutes later, as I was leaving, Kay turned to her daughter, Kathleen, and asked her to get me the banana pudding recipe from the kitchen. Selfless Kay was worrying about me and my banana pudding while she was dealing with so much more in her own life. How selfless can an individual be? Kay was an example all her own.
Kay was the ultimate southern belle. She was always composed, ladylike, articulate, and well informed about anything and everything. She was a lady in the truest sense of the word. I am thankful that God placed me in Kay's life and allowed me to know one of the greatest women of my life. She was my mentor, friend, boss, and teacher. I miss her greatly and pray for her family members, who have lost a beautiful person.
Picture Caption [above right]: Paula Miller, Psi Chi's Chief Operations Officer, with her husband, Brian, and two-year-old daughter, Olivia.
Fall 2003 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 5-6), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2003, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.