January

Portrait of Ophelia Spencer
Ophelia Spencer shows off some of the products she’s crocheted. Others, such as bedspreads she made for her children, are too big to carry.
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People of the U: Ophelia Spencer

Published on Thursday, January 2, 2020

By: Cynthia Wall, cwall@umc.edu

When things go wrong or when someone needs them to go right at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Mississippi Cancer Registries, Ophelia Spencer, officially an administrative assistant III, is often the one who gets the call.

“She’s the glue. She’s the go-to person,” said her supervisor, Dr. Deirdre Rogers, director of the UMMC and Mississippi Cancer Registries.

“She keeps the departments running. She makes sure everyone has what they need,” Rogers said.

Spencer said the job frequently offers something new, whether it’s finding out how to fix a building problem, helping a co-worker find material they need or working with registrars to help researchers start projects.

For many, she is the calm voice on the phone when they need to reserve a conference room, or the quiet smile that greets them as they enter.

For others, with whom she works, she’s provides stress relief. “She always has a positive attitude. She’ll help in any way she can when someone asks,” said Rogers. “She can lower your stress level in a heartbeat.”

Spencer said she joined UMMC years ago after working in a small office.  “For 18 years it was just me and my boss,” she said. At UMMC, she held jobs as a transcription assistant in the Department of Radiology and an administrative assistant in a diabetes program, jobs that were phased out, enabling her to join the cancer registries in 2008. 

 “Working here I’ve learned how to work with a lot of different people and personalities,” she said.

Just as she likes learning new tasks at work, she does the same at home. There she turned to YouTube to enhance basic crochet skills her mom taught her.

She’s completed a queen size crocheted bed cover for her daughter, 30, who is a Ph.D. student at the University of Mississippi and is working on one for her son, 26, who works in Jackson.

She has other crochet projects too. “Usually when you crochet, you’re not working on just one project,” she said.

Is there anything for her? She laughs. “Do you remember Dr. Who and that long scarf you had to wrap around your neck multiple time? I made one of those but I’ve put it away.”

At her home, the crocheting is for those she loves, including Caesar, a 20-something-pound Terrier X her son brought home from Mississippi Animal Rescue League a few years ago. She crocheted a mat for Caesar so he could lay on the couch beside her.


Every institution is rich with personal stories. We want to know ours.

Do you know a student, staff, volunteer or faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center whose story would make an interesting feature?

Know someone who has a fascinating hobby? Who participates in a remarkable group? Who has accomplished something amazing? Who deserves to be recognized?

We want to learn more about each individual who makes up our extraordinary UMMC Family, and we want to share what makes each person unique in the People of the U section of our dynamic new UMMC Intranet.

To nominate someone to be considered for a People of the U feature, just complete and submit this short form. If that person is picked for a feature, a member of the Communications and Marketing staff will contact him or her to learn more about his or her personal story.

Soon, the rest of the Medical Center will know why your nominee is an outstanding reminder of what makes this place so special – the People of the U