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The Ripple Effect

Do you have a mentor? Is there someone in your life that has had a lasting positive impact on you? Have you had the opportunity to pay it forward in what I call the “ripple effect?”

Katie Hart Smith

My husband, Jeff, and I attended the Georgia Gwinnett College School of Nursing pinning and candlelight ceremony last month. We have been avid supporters of the program since the department doors opened five years ago. The history of nursing display honors my grandmother, Gigi, a first-generation graduate, and registered nurse. Her story serves to inspire future generations of nurses at GGC.

Following the beautiful service, students and parents came up to Jeff and me to thank us for our support. One student shared her heartfelt gratitude to our family for our philanthropic work and that they were appreciative of our mentorship. Another student joined the conversation, adding, “I Googled you, read your web bio, and I hope to be like you one day.”

Unbeknownst to them, the past month had been filled with life’s trials and tests. In spite of the speedbumps, we were so joyful to be there for them that evening, cheerleaders amongst their fellow professors, administration, and community healthcare leaders. When her words filled our ears, the magnitude of their comments struck us to the core, and I broke down and sobbed. We weren’t prepared to receive gratitude that evening; we were there to simply give it.

When you throw a stone into a pond or lake, the ripple effect begins. Smaller rings lead to bigger and bigger concentric circles, forever expanding their reach to the beyond.

Later that week, a colleague asked if her friend, also a registered nurse, could contact me to discuss how to explore and expand her career in the nursing field as I had. And, then I received another message to speak to high school students, followed by another call to present at an event. To touch the life of another human being initiates the ripples and more and more will be asked of you. I say, “Take the call and give of your time and talents to another. Be an active listener and an encouraging influence in the life of another so they can uncover the potential in themselves, ultimately finding their joy and calling.”

“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.” — Maya Angelou

I challenge you to lead by example and mentor the next generation in your profession or trade. Reach out and lift another up. Hopefully, they, too, will become a ripple, making the circle infinitely larger and larger with time. 

About Katie Hart Smith
Katie Hart Smith’s column, “From the Heart,” touches the heart, inspires, and entertains. Smith, a published author for over twenty years, believes that words, written or spoken, have power. To learn more, visit