Roger Strickland grew up in Richton as the only child of a farming family. Through his hard work and dedication, he graduated valedictorian of Sand Hill High School. He enrolled at Mississippi State University in 1972 and began his studies with a premed concentration. He earned early acceptance to the University of Mississippi Medical School in 1975 and received the Army Medical Scholarship, which established the beginning of his military medical career.

He completed an internal medicine residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, where he was chief resident. He also completed a rheumatology fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. He subsequently became the assistant chief of rheumatology at Walter Reed, greatly expanding the center’s rheumatology fellowship and training nearly 30 rheumatologists, and also served as an associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

He was a physician member of the Congressional Tour after the first Gulf War and served as chief of medicine at the Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning, Georgia, before being appointed the division surgeon of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. There, he was promoted to his final rank of colonel. Unfortunately, his career trajectory was cut short when he passed away from cancer in 1998 at the age of 44.

Despite their father’s untimely death when they were young, Amanda and Nicole are grateful for the time they had with him.

“He taught us how to ride a bicycle, and he read the Bible to us every night, providing a strong foundation for our Christian values,” Nicole said. “We spent a lot of holidays and summers in Richton at our grandparents’ farm where we were taught how to fish, pick pecans and how to fix things around the farm with our dad.”

Roger traveled all over the country and world throughout his life, however, he considered himself a Mississippian first and foremost. He made sure to share the love of his home with his Texas-native daughters, who agree that some of their happiest childhood memories were made in the Magnolia State.

“Based off our memories of our father along with what our mother told us over the years, we were very aware that our father wanted to give back to this state,” Amanda said. “He experienced a lot of wonderful things and places through his military career, but Mississippi was always home.”

In addition to being where he grew up, Mississippi was also where he met the love of his life, Lucy Tong.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Lucy came to the United States in the fall of 1972 to pursue a degree in biochemistry at Mississippi State University. There, she soon caught the eye of a young Roger Strickland who would eventually become her husband. The two first crossed paths during a freshman honors chemistry course in the Hand Chemical Laboratory, where they were paired as lab partners. Lucy graduated from MSU in 1975 and the couple were soon wed.

While supporting her husband’s medical training and military career, she continued her education at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she obtained an MBA. She later earned a Texas teacher’s certification in elementary education and was proud of her broad-spectrum education.

Lucy spent the last 20 years of her life serving as a substitute teacher in the Killeen, Texas, Independent School District. She touched many lives through her work, treating every student with care and respect.

“For years, students stopped us in the grocery store saying, ‘Your mom helped me keep my scholarship.’ She really played a major role in so many people’s lives,” Amanda said.

However, her lifelong passion and most devoted work was raising her twin daughters—Amanda and Nicole—who shared her love for education and followed their father’s footsteps to become physicians as well.

Amanda and Nicole grew up in Harker Heights, Texas, and graduated early from Texas A&M University with honors in 2011. The sisters then pursued medical degrees from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, earning their medical degrees in 2015. Today, Amanda is an academic pathologist in Chicago, Illinois, while Nicole is a dermatologist in private practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“Our early inspiration to become doctors was from watching our father read health care journals, medical books and other texts every night and remembering his excitement from learning something new,” Nicole said. “As a doctor you are never done learning, and it looked like something fun to do.”

Upon Lucy’s passing in 2022, Amanda and Nicole began considering ways to honor the impact their parents made in their lives, as well as the lives of others. The following year, they decided to invest in a naming opportunity that forever connects the alumni couple to the place their journey began—Mississippi State University.

“We are aware of how long, expensive, and physically and mentally challenging it is to become a physician, and we thought a lot about the support both our parents provided to help us become the health care professionals we always wanted to be,” Amanda said. “Because of what we experienced, we felt that money should be the last reason preventing motivated and talented students from starting their healthcare journeys. There is a national shortage of physicians, dentists, veterinarian physicians and other health care professionals, particularly in Mississippi. We are very honored and pleased to be a part of the solution.”

The Col. Roger W. Strickland, M.D and Mrs. Lucy T. Strickland Endowed Healthcare Conference Room and Library in the Dr. A. Randle and Marilyn W. White Health Professions Resource Center at MSU will serve as a valuable student resource for years to come, providing dedicated study space for future health care professionals. Both Amanda and Nicole carry fond childhood memories of Mississippi and are proud to carry on their parents’ legacy in a meaningful way.

“We are just facilitators to make this happen, and we know our parents would be thrilled to know they are a part of this effort,” Amanda said.

The sisters traveled to MSU last fall to cut the ribbon of the newly named space during a special unveiling ceremony hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences. During their visit, they took time to tour campus and experience some of the MSU memories their parents made together. They also had their first Egg Bowl experience cheering on the Bulldogs and scoped out the classroom in Hand Chemical Laboratory where their parents most likely met as freshmen.

“It is a privilege to do this and to be a part of this,” Nicole said. “We could not be prouder and more honored to help the state that we emotionally call home.”

By Addie Mayfield, Photos Submitted