Cydney Melinda Mizell
Servant Leader – Teacher
Cydney “Cyd” Mizell, a former Hardin-Simmons University student, is remembered for her selfless, Christ-like service. She gave generously to others, leaving a legacy of servant leadership, love for others, and a willingness to go into dangerous areas of the world to help those in need. Her leadership, her love, and her willingness to take risks in service to others ultimately cost her everything in this life. Jesus taught in John 15:16, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In powerful and exemplary ways, Mizell followed these teachings until her final day on this earth.
Cydney Melinda Mizell was born on February 12, 1958, in Eureka, California. She was enrolled in HSU from August of 1976 through December of 1977. As a university student, she was actively involved in campus life. While taking her required courses, she particularly loved music classes. She enjoyed singing and participating in choral activities and was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the professional fraternity for women in music. She and her classmate, Dirk Strickland, were voted “Sophomore Favorites” for the 1977-1978 year. For exercise, she enjoyed running in HSU’s 100 Mile Club.
Later, in 1990, Mizell earned a Master of Divinity degree in biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
During the 18 years of service following her seminary graduation, she worked as an administrative assistant for an international organization, supporting workers around the globe. From 2005 to 2008, she worked in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, teaching English at Kandahar University and giving embroidery and sewing lessons at a girls’ school. She helped young Afghan women learn skills that would enable them to make a living for themselves and their families.
She also participated in irrigation, rehabilitation, health care, and restoration projects as well as other assignments to help Afghans work for food. She was fluent in the language of Pashtu.
One friend recalled, “She loved the Afghan people and had become quite popular with the women she worked among. She adhered to Afghan culture as closely as she could, even wearing Afghan clothing and a burka, and using a driver since a woman would not be permitted to drive there.”
On January 26, 2008, Cyd Mizell’s career and life abruptly ended when she and her driver were abducted and presumably killed by Afghan gunmen.
A very close friend in the United States said, “. . . the shock of the violence of that action – done to such a gentle soul – echoed around the world. In the media, it was headline news, but her kidnapping was much more personal to the countless individuals who knew her . . . who had been helped by her, and who were her friends in the vast network of relationships she invested in throughout the decades.”
Another good friend and former colleague in Texas said, “Cyd was not loud and forceful, nor did she have a personality that sought to draw attention to herself or overwhelm others. There was another kind of force about her. Her spirit of love, grace, kindness, and care drew people to her. She had no need to boast about who she was, nor did she need to argue to prove her point. Her life boasted; her life made the point. Of course, this was not because of an innate forceful personality or unusual strong will.”
“Cyd was Cyd because of years of surrender to Jesus Christ and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in her life. One could see the power of the Spirit in her eyes, her smile, and feel the love of Christ in her touch and embrace. Of all the people I have known in my long life, Cyd exemplifies for me what it means to embody the presence of Christ.”
Mizell was preceded in death by her mother in 1979. Her father died only six months after she was abducted. She was survived by her stepmother, Margaret A. “Peggy” Mizell, of Tacoma, Washington.
For her distinctive and selfless career and for her devotion to serving others, it is a high honor for HSU to induct Cydney M. Mizell into the Hardin-Simmons University Hall of Leaders.