Earlier this year, Dr. Amy Cink, sister to Waynesburg University’s Dr. Christopher Cink, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Biology, Environmental Science and Athletic Training, found herself adding mask-making to her list of hobbies.
“I started making masks when everything was shut down for the pandemic and masks were hard to come by,” shared Dr. Cink. “I wanted to make some to protect myself and my coworkers.”
Before too long, the small-animal veterinarian who works at the Waynesburg Animal Hospital, found herself making fun masks in dog and cat prints in an effort to cheer everyone up.
“I expanded my project when I happened to give one of my masks to a client that I did not know but desperately needed a mask. She was wearing a sock on her face,” Dr. Cink recalled.
Her client’s positive response for the simple gift inspired Dr. Cink to take her mask-making skills and output to a whole new level.
“I have always needed a craft project to keep me busy in my free time, [so] suddenly mask-making became my obsession.”
Her goal was to put smiles on the faces (under their mask, of course) of her coworkers, clients, friends and distant relatives.
When Dr. Cink found a variety of science fabrics, she immediately thought of her brother. Knowing how much more challenging and stressful the pandemic has made teachers’ jobs, she knew individualized science-related masks could be fun way to say thank you.
“In my profession, a simple thank you means the world to me, but that has become so much more important [now],” said Dr. Cink.
Realizing the importance of teachers, especially during the pandemic, Dr. Cink wanted to make sure that Waynesburg University math and science professors knew they were thought of as heroes.
“If I could do something to make some of the teachers on campus feel appreciated, I wanted to try and help,” Dr. Cink shared. “What better way than to give them something they can wear that celebrates their favorite subject?”
In an effort to share that she cares and wants to keep teachers safe, Dr. Cink presented the faculty with personalized masks related to their subject area.
Each department also received a personal note from Dr. Cink that was delivered with the masks, which read:
“I wanted you all to know that you are appreciated. This pandemic has shown that all of you are more important than ever. It is remarkable to me how so many people all over the world have come together with all of their different talents to help overcome this virus and help others, from those in the medical field treating the sick, to those who are creating new vaccines and treatments, to those creating new software to track and trace those who are infected, creating new medical devices and equipment and solving all types of problems this pandemic has created. Many of these heroes have careers in math and science, and they were once inspired and educated by you and your peers. I will never be able to thank all of the people who have done their part to get us all through this. I can, however, thank all of you. Thank you for all of your hard work, for adjusting lesson plans, for learning how to teach via Zoom when it's so much harder to communicate with your students, and for your bravery when you had to go back to class and teach in person, unvaccinated and never knowing if the virus was in the room with you each day.”
Even though her brother knew that she had been making masks for family and friends, he was completely surprised by the work she had done with the specialized masks for Waynesburg University.
“It still caught me off guard,” he shared. “From my perspective, her gift was really a touching reminder of how lucky I am to have her as a sister and how important it is for all of us to care for one another.”
Kathryn Waddel, instructor of computer science, also shared her gratitude for Dr. Cink’s surprise.
“What Amy did was such an incredible act of kindness. In this crazy year, we all appreciate a gentle reminder that there are folks out there with hearts full of love and generosity,” said Waddel.
Throughout the spring semester, the math and science professors of Stewart Science Hall showed off their newly gifted masks.
When asked why this project was important to her, Dr. Cink simply said, “Because we all need more kindness and appreciation, and I love happy surprises!”