Angela Speck, an MU astronomy professor, will not need a brush or a comb or even shampoo for quite a while. This week, in front of students and friends, she shaved her head, all in the name of charity.
On Monday night, Speck sat on a stool at the front of a lecture hall and removed her sweater, revealing a T-shirt that matched the jet black of her chin-length hair. She cracked jokes with the small group of students and colleagues eagerly awaiting the Big Shave.
Speck’s husband, Alan Whittington, an assistant professor of geological sciences, plugged the electric shaver into the wall outlet. The shaver buzzed as Whittington brushed his wife’s hair over to one side and began to shear her tresses just above her left ear.
He was meticulous, pausing every few moments to tie portions of her hair back with a lime-green rubber band before permanently removing them.
Two weeks ago, Speck announced that if she received $500 in donations to the Melvin Y. Mora scholarship fund, she would go bald.
“I was going to shave my head during the Thanksgiving break,” Speck explained. “We decided that, if I’m going to do it, we might as well see how much money we can make for a good cause.”
Her fund raising worked. Since her announcement, she has received almost $1,200 for the scholarship fund.
Melvin Y. Mora, a native of Puerto Rico, died in Iraq on June 6. He was just a few credits away from earning his undergraduate degree in astrophysics from MU. The 27-year-old, a sergeant in the Army Reserve’s 245th Maintenance Company at Camp Cook on the Al Taji Air Base, died when the camp was hit by a mortar attack, according to news reports.
Yve Solbrekken, an MU physics student, said she was deeply shaken by the news despite never knowing Mora.
“I feared that not enough would be done,” she said. “To do something practical is so much more important than to feel.”
Solbrekken immediately started working to create a scholarship in Mora’s name. The fund-raising group, composed of members of the Society for Physics Students, has since received donations from $30 to $1,750.
“I want the fund to reach at least $10,000 by the end of the semester and $100,000 by the end of the (school) year,” Solbrekken said.